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Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, The

by: Patricia Tanumihardja

Seattle WA: Sasquatch Books 2009, $35.00, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-57061-566-6

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2011 Issue: 18(3) page(s): 16 and 17

Subtitled: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens, this hardbound book has one hundred forty-one recipes, ingredients listed, method in exceptionally detailed paragraphs. Recipe chapter titles include: Tidbits, Purses, and Parcels; Savory Soups; On the Side; The Centerpiece; Feeding a Crowd: Potlucks, Parties, and Festivals; Comfort Food and One-wok Meals; Sweets, Sips, and Slurps. Before them, fourteen pages include an introduction and information about deep-frying, stir-frying, steaming, clay-pot cooking, and using a mortar and pestle.

While the recipes and the grandmothers are not all Chinese, they and the grandmothers profiled are great featuring foods from Japan, China, the Philippines, India, Laos, Hawaii, Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia. Before each recipe, a paragraph tells about it, gives the time to prepare it, and the number it serves.

The detailed pantry items and the recipes makes one want to cook them to enjoy their wonderful tastes. The one for Shrimp and Mung Bean Sprout Omelets has no picture but nonetheless, one can virtually see it because every instruction for it and throughout the book are outstanding. Though in one recipe, we wonder why it takes forty minutes of prep and cook time.

The color photographs by Lara Ferroni tempt; they can almost be tasted. After the recipes, five pages tell about four on-line resources, seven places to mail-order, twenty-five cookbooks to browse in, and conversion tables for measures, weights, volume, temperature, and length.

A seven-page three-column cross-referenced index ends the book. It has one disappointment, it does not list recipes by Asian cuisine. The very end-page provides a few sentences about the author and has her b/w photograph.
Stuffed Egg-crepe Rolls
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound fish paste
4 water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 medium Chinese black mushrooms, soak, stems removed, and finely chopped
2 scallions, cut into thin rings
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with two teaspoons cold water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
dash ground white pepper
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
dash of salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with two teaspoons of water
1. Mix pork, dish paste, water chestnuts, mushrooms, scallions, egg, soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch mixture. Add sugar, salt, fresh ginger, and pepper and make a thick paste.
2. Beat one egg lightly with a pinch of salt.
3. Lightly brush the bottom of an eight-inch non-stick skillet with a little oil, and heat pan for half to one minute. Swirl in the egg to coat the bottom of the pan in a thin layer and cook until surface of the egg is nearly dry (one to two minutes). Turn this omelet over and cook the other side for another minute, then slide it onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Set the egg-crepes aside to cool.
4. Prepare a steamer, bottom pan half full with water, and bring it to the boil.
5. When egg crepes are cool, spread one-quarter of the filling (about half cup) on one of them leaving a half-inch border with no filling around the edge. Then roll it into a fat cigar and seal the edge with a little of the filling. Put this roll seam-side down on a greased pie plate or a heat-proof rimmed platter. Then repeat making the other crepes. Arrange them in a single layer on the plate.
6. Steam them covered for twenty minutes until the filling is firm and no longer pink, then remove and set them aside to cool. 7. Cut the rolls into one-inch diagonal pieces; then heat the drippings and add chicken stock to make half cup, add cornstarch and water mixture, cook until it thickens, then pour over the cut pieces of roll, and serve.

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