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Lady & Pups’ Curry Risotto

Affiliate banner explaining there is an affiliate link for Bookshop.org, an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores, in this article.Mandy from Lady and Pups has been one of my biggest flavor inspirations for years. I think we share a penchant for flavors that pack a punch and innovations that some might consider sacrilegious.

She is also a pioneer in the moody style of food photography I thought I’d end up doing before I turned into a brightly colored butterball. So when her book The Art of Escapism Cooking came out last year, I just had to have it.

A picture of Mandy from Lady and Pups hiding behind a copy of her book The Art of Escapism Cooking

Where Mandy and I drift apart is that I tend to like short cuts where she appears to be a gluton for punishment. The chapter Shit I Eat When I’m By Myself thus rang the most true to me, and this kare (Japanese curry brick) risotto was the first recipe I cooked from Escapism.

What are Japanese curry bricks?

Now you can make your own curry bricks, but Japanese food tends to be high quality at all levels. And making life harder for yourself is so not the point of this dish. So get yourself some bricks.

Because I get greedy when I go to my bigger Asian supermarket, I got a few brands. My favorite was the Kokumaro-brand. The hot version isn’t that hot, and it has a nice creamy edge to it that I get off on.

An example of a Japanese curry brick box by the brand Kokumaro

All the brands I got were hot. Some packed too much of a punch for me, were too salty or too bland. Do with that information what you will. I’d recommend trying a bunch if you can afford to. If not, go with Kokumaro and blame me (no refunds tho).

How do you eat Japanse curry risotto?

This is a very filling main course and it really doesn’t need anything else.

I added frozen peas to mine for some greens. Broccoli would probably also work. But I like all green veggies.

If you have to eat this as a side I would cook whatever greens you are having separately and serve it with chicken or pork schnitzel for Tonkatsu (Japanese schnitzel) vibes and use the recipe below to serve two.

Some things to look out for

I thought I’d get smart and fancy with this recipe and not read the instructions properly, so the first time I made it with arborio rice in my Instant Pot. This was a bad idea.

Curry bricks are an instant cooking solution and don’t need a lot of time to thicken (or burn). Use leftover rice from the day before (or: make sure you have leftover rice at hand).

I have on occasion been out of ginger and curry powder to add and didn’t miss these. I did try and make this without any of Mandy’s additions to the bricks at some point and that was very meh, so please don’t omit too much. Though I also didn’t miss the Parm on days where I’d run out.

What I did miss is this recipe on days where I didn’t have any curry bricks. The egg yolk really is a must-have finishing touch. So on to the recipe.

You can buy Mandy Lee’s The Art of Escapism cooking here if you’re in the US or here if you’re in the UK.

A blue background with a white plate with a black circle on top. On the plate to the right front there is a small brown and wood patterned dish with some grated Parmesan inside. To the back and left on the plate is an oval black bowl, filled with dark yellow brown rice dotted with peas, topped with a golden egg yolk. A wedge of parmesan has been set on it's backend to the right backend of the plate.

Curry Risotto from The Art of Escapism Cooking

Dorothy Porker
A quick and easy hearty and aggressive risotto made with Japanese curry bricks and some extra veg from The Art of Escapism Cooking by Lady and Pups.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine Fusion, Italian, Japanese
Servings 1

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Grater

Ingredients
  

  • 1 c - 250 ml chicken stock
  • 3 T - 45 ml milk most variaties work - more as needed
  • 1 1/3 T - 30 gr Japanese curry bricks whichever brand you like, can find or afford
  • 2 T - 30 gr caramelized onion powder I buy ready-made caramelized onions and grind them up with my pestle and mortar
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 t - 3 gr ginger grated
  • 2 t - 12 gr unsweetened cocoa powder yes really
  • 2 t - 12 gr curry powder
  • 1/2 t - 3 gr Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 t - 3 gr honey
  • 1 1/4 c 160 gr rice pre-cooked, leftover is fine
  • 1 egg yolk you can freeze the whites for up to one year
  • Parmesan grated, to serve
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 c - 125 gr peas fresh or frozen, optional

Instructions
 

  • Combine everything 1 c - 250 ml chicken stock, 3 T - 45 ml milk, 1 1/3 T - 30 gr curry brick, 1 T - 15 gr caramelized onion powder, clove of garlic, 1/2 t - 3 gr of ginger, mustard, honey and the 2 tsp - 12 gr of cacao and curry powder in a heavy based saucepan until everything is thoroughly mixed.
  • Bring to a simmer and stir until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Add 1 1/4 c - 160 gr rice and 1 c - 125 gr peas and warm through. Adjust thickness with milk if so desired.
  • Serve with 1 raw egg yolk on top and lots of the grated Parmesan and freshly ground pepper.

Notes

Lady and Pups' curry risotto keeps for up to 3 days in the fridge and can best be reheated by coating it in breadcrumbs and shallow frying it.
Keyword comfort food, cookbook recipe, Italian food, Japanese curry, Japanese food, Lady and Pups, The Art of Escapism Cooking

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Kara Age with Ikura and Kewpie

I’ve been a fan of David Chang‘s cooking since I saw him eating raw ramen noodles sprinkled with instant noodle powder in Mind of a Chef. One of the dishes I’ve always wanted to try at Momofuku is the caviar and fried chicken. I’ve never been to New York with enough people, or enough money for that matter. So this feast always seemed out of reach.

Throwback someday to that time I couldn’t find Baohaus the day I’d planned to, so I ‘had to’ 👀 eat there and at Momofuku Ssäm Bar during the same lunch and then they had octopus on the menu so I had to get that as well as some pork belly. 🐙🐷🤤 .

Lady and Pups: Goddess of Aggressive Umami

But then I saw Lady and Pups post about her fried chicken and salmon roe. And I realized, off course! You can make this shit at home! And personally. I prefer salmon roe over caviar anyway, though that might be because I’ve never had the real deal. Either way making something like this at home means you can tweak it to suit your personal preferences.

For those of you who don’t know Lady and Pups, she is by far my favorite food blogger. All her recipes pack a punch and a lot of my cooking is inspired by her. She’s actually got a book coming out this fall, called The Art of Escapism Cooking and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

That said, I’m much more of a lazy cook than she is, so I just pulled together my own version of this dish.

Tokyo Cult Recipes

I got my recipe for kara-age from Maori Murota’s Tokyo Cult Recipes and used Kewpie mayo (extra delicious because the addition of MSG) with either salmon or trout roe, depending on what I can afford and what my fish monger has laying around at the time.

Of course you can also just have the chicken with some rice and pickled cucumber. But if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

What do I eat with Momofuku inspired fried chicken with ikura?

Have it with a nice cold glass of sake and a lightly dressed salad of wakame or cucumber with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds and maybe some fries.

A bowl of Japanese fried chicken with ikura, salmon roe and tufts of Kewpie mayo

Momofuku Inspired Fried Chicken with Ikura

Dorothy Porker
A home-style version of the fried chicken and caviar they serve at Momofuku, with Japanese fried chicken, Japanese mayo and salmon roe.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main course
Cuisine American, Asian, Japanese
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Plate x2
  • Deep fat fryer
  • Paper towels

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 clove garlic finely grated
  • 1" - 2.5 cm ginger peeled and finely grated
  • 1 T - 15 ml sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 T - 25 ml soy sauce Japanese preferred
  • 1 t - 5 gr cane sugar plane will suffice if that's what you've got
  • 5 T - 75 gr potato starch corn starch or rice flour will also work in a pinch
  • 1 t - 5 gr cinnamon yes really
  • pinch pepper
  • 4 pieces chicken boneless, skinless, cut into1.5 inch/ 4 cm strips
  • oil for deep fat frying
  • salt

To serve

  • Kewpie mayo to taste, if you can't get Kewpie, mix some MSG into 'regular' mayo
  • salmon or trout roe (imitation) caviar also works (in a pinch?)
  • 2 medium eggs soft boiled or poached, optional

Instructions
 

  • Mix together 1 egg, 1 clove of garlic, 1" - 2.5 cm ginger, 1 T - 15 ml of sesame oil, 1 1/2 T - 22.5 ml of soy sauce, 1 t - 5 gr of sugar, 5 T - 75 gr potato starch, 1 t - 5 gr cinnamon and a pinch of pepper shallow plate. Add 4 pieces of chicken , cut into strips and leave to marinade for about 30 minutes in the flavored batter.
  • Preheat your deep fat fryer to 180° C/ 360° F .
  • Be sure to set up a plate with paper towels to move your chicken to once you're done frying.
  • Now, stir the chicken and batter thoroughly before you fry the chicken in batches. The starch can sink to the bottom of the marinade and the chicken really needs a good layer of properly mixed batter to crisp up.
  • Depending on the size of your fryer, fry the chicken in small batches until golden brown and crisp. This should take 5-10 minutes depending on the size of your pieces of chicken.
  • Move to the kitchen towel lined plate while you fry up the remainder of your chicken. Finish the fried chicken with some salt.

To serve

  • Plate this however you want. You can either stack all the strips of chicken on a big tray, douse them in Kewpie in a zig-zag or Jackson Pollock-style splatter pattern and then toss all the salmon roe on top in one go, or serve individual portions on smaller plates, mayhaps with a soft boiled egg, to avoid fights. Or serve the chicken, roe and Kewpie separately, and let your dinners 'build their own'. Either way you're in for a very good time.

Notes

This recipe is not suited for the air fryer because the batter is very loose.
Keyword david chang, fried chicken, Japanese food, kewpie mayo, Lady and Pups, maori murota, momofuku, msg, salmon roe, tokyo cult recipes

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Gochujang and Parmesan Pasta

Nothing pairs better than cheese and gochujang (sorry wine). The first time I learned this was when I made Lady&Pups gochujang, mushroom and cheese pasta.

Some variations on the theme

I simplified it quite a bit and usually skip the shrooms because pasta, but I won’t stop you if you want to add some veggies. I think peas would also go nicely with this.

A plate of Korean inspired pasta with gochujang and Parmesan

Gochujang and Parmesan pasta

Dorothy Porker
This recipe combines the gentle heat of gochujang with the umami of Parmesan for a rich, creamy, spicy and satisfying pasta.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 11 mins
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine Fusion, Italian, Korean
Servings 1

Equipment

  • Large pot for cooking pasta
  • Small skillet or frying pan

Ingredients
  

  • pinch salt for the pasta water
  • 3 oz - 80 gr pasta of choice, I use linguine
  • 2 T - 15 ml olive oil
  • 4 small shallots finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 T - 15 gr gochujang
  • 1 T - 7 gr flour
  • 1 c - 250 ml cream (nut)milk will also do
  • 1 c - 125 gr Parmesan grated, divided in two
  • 1 slice cheese whatever you have laying around, preferably something younger, mature cheeses don't melt as well, if at all
  • ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Prepare your 3 oz - 80 gr of pasta according to the instructions on the packet. I like to cut the suggestions cooking time by a minute to ensure extra bite.
  • Heat 1 T - 15 ml of olive oil in a small skillet or frying pan. Add 4 finely chopped shallots and 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and glaze until translucent. This should take 5-10 minutes.
  • If you're adding a vegetable, now would be a good time to add them the shallots and garlic and cook until soft. This excludes peas, which are best added at the last minute just to warm them through.
  • Stir in 2 T - 15 gr gochujang and 1 T - 7 gr flour for roughly 2-4 minutes and then add 1 c - 250 ml of cream. Keep stirring until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Lower the heat completely. Add 1/2 c - 65 gr of Parmesan and 1 slice of whatever cheese you have laying around. If you're using peas this is the time to add them, I'd suggest about a cup's worth.
  • Your pasta should be done now. Drain and mix in with the sauce to finish.
  • Top with the remainder of the Parmesan and ground black pepper.
Keyword easy pasta, gochujang, korean, korean fusion, Lady and Pups

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Mexican Chorizo Tofu Tacos

Sometimes being stuck indoors brings out the best in you. Or me. As the case may be.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a vegan version of Mexican chorizo for ages. I had figured out the spice mix for Lady and Pups’ chorizo and shrimp burger was the way forward, but the mix itself was too dry and for years I just couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

Then for some reason it hit me. The answer had been right in front of me the entire time. I just mixed it in with some tomato paste, as I do with harissa tofu puffs, and landed on a majestic beast of a sauce.

Chorizo sauce is boss

The sauce is great like this, with tofu mince on a taco. But it also works with fish, mixed with some mayo as a dip and stuck on a cheese melt. Basically I haven’t stopped eating this since I first made it.

Start off with the tacos below and eat your way up from there.

How do I eat Mexican chorizo tofu tacos?

I like to eat two of these as a main course for lunch or dinner, a cold beer would do nicely with this as well.

If you have a bigger appetite than mine and this doesn’t sound like it’ll even remotely do, serve it with an quick coleslaw with store-bought grated red and/ or white cabbage, a finely diced jalapeno and some olive oil, white wine vinegar and maybe even a drop of Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco or two.

What you’ll need

I have also included these recipes in the recipe below, so you don’t have to click back and forth to recreate this.

A bamboo platter on a cement backdrop, on the platter are two fried tacos with minced tofu and a red sauce as well as some pickled shallots and fresh coriander

Mexican Chorizo Tofu Tacos 🌱

Dorothy Porker
A super tasty take on Mexican chorizo, made vegan with tofu mince and a banging sauce that you can slap on pretty much anything.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Main course
Cuisine Mexican, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Heavy pan or other heavy object
  • Kitchen towels
  • Big bowl
  • Sieve, optional
  • Small saucepan
  • Glass jar
  • Small blender or pestle and mortar
  • Two large frying pans or skillets

Ingredients
  

For the pickled shallots, or get store-bought

  • 3 small shallots cut into thin rings
  • 3/4 c - 150 ml white wine vinegar or similar
  • 3/4 c - 150 ml water
  • 1 t - 5 gr salt
  • 1 clove garlic smashed and peeled
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • pinch sugar

For the minced tofu, or get ready-made (vegan) mince

  • 9 oz - 250 gr firm tofu get it from an Asian supermarket and thank me later
  • 1/2 T - 7 gr corn flour or other starch
  • pinch salt
  • neutral oil for shallow frying, I use sunflower

For the Mexican chorizo sauce

  • 3 T - 45 gr tomato puree
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 1/2 t - 7.5 gr chili powder
  • 1 1/2 t - 7.5 gr smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 t - 2.5 gr hot paprika or cayenne more if you're nasty
  • 1 t - 5 ml red wine vinegar Balsamic will also do
  • 1 t - 5 ml tequila omit of dining with minors or people who don't drink alcohol
  • 1 t - 5 gr salt
  • 1/2 t - 2.5 gr ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t - 2.5 gr dried oregano Mexican if you can get your hands on some
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 1/4 c - 60 ml olive oil

To finish

  • 4-8 burrito or taco skins I prefer corn, but you do you
  • sunflower oil for shallow frying
  • 1 t - 5 gr chili flakes optional
  • bunch coriander freshly chopped
  • feta crumbed, optional

Instructions
 

Pickle the shallots, or get store bought

  • You can also use store-bought pickles. If you are making these, be sure to make them the night or morning before so the shallots are properly pickled.
  • Bring 3/4 c - 150 ml white wine vinegar to the boil with equal parts water, 1 t - 5 gr salt and a pinch of sugar.
  • Place 3 sliced shallots in a small jar, make sure you separate the rings out a little before you do this.
  • Poor the warm vinegar mixture in with the shallots. Add the smashed clove of garlic and 3 black peppercorns.
  • Leave to cool on the kitchen counter before moving them to the fridge.

Start the minced tofu, or get ready-made (vegan) mince

  • You can also use store-bought mince of choice, pick up the process for this from step 3 under the header 'Back to minced tofu'. If you do make your own, make sure you start this part of the recipe about 45 minutes before you want to eat.
  • Press 9 oz - 250 gr of tofu by placing it between some kitchen towels and placing a heavy object on top for 30 minutes or so.
  • Now make the sauce so you can mix this in with the warm tofu mince later.

Make the chorizo sauce

  • In a small blender or pestle and mortar mix together 3 T - 45 gr tomato puree, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 1/2 t - 7.5 gr chili powder or flakes, 1 1/2 t - 7.5. gr sweet smoked paprika, 1/2 t - 2.5 gr hot paprika or cayenne, 1 t - 5 ml red wine vinegar, 1 t - 5 ml tequila (if using), a pinch of cumin and 1/4 c - 60 ml olive oil to a smooth paste.

Back to the minced tofu

  • Crumble the tofu into a bowl. The pieces should remain of uneven in size and shape, as if you've fried off some actual minced meat in a frying pan.
  • Thinly coat the crumbled tofu with 1/2 t - 7 gr corn flour and salt generously.
  • Fry the crumbled tofu in a thin layer of sunflower oil in a (non-stick) frying pan. Do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan and ensure crisp. Fry the tofu until golden and partially crisp.

Create your tacos

  • Fry up 2-4 tortilla skins in a shallow layer of sunflower oil. You should end up with four each. You want the edges to be crisp and the centers to remain kind of chewy. You can spice the oil with some chili flakes while it heats up for added oomph. Salt while draining on some kitchen towels post-fry
  • Drain the tofu on some kitchen towels and then mix in 2 to 4 T's of the sauce until the tofu is evenly coated.
  • To compose a taco: place 2 tortilla skins on a plate. Top with a few tablespoons of the tofu mixture. Finish with a generous hand of pickled shallots, some freshly chopped coriander and feta if using.

Notes

The chorizo sauce will keep in the fridge in a well-closed container for about a week. Mix it with mayo or stick it on a cheese melt. The possibilities are endless.
The pickled shallots will keep in the fridge in a well-closed container for about a month. 
Keyword chorizo, Mexican food, tacos, tofu, tofu mince, vegan, vegan mince, vegetarian

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Super Easy Sweet Potato Burger Buns

One of my favorite foodblogs is Lady and Pups, her Mexican Chorizo Burger is especially divine and you should get on that train as soon as you can. I’ve been shilling that particular spice mix to vegans to make a vegan chorizo for years now.

Super easy burger buns

Her recipes pack a punch in flavor as much as they do when it comes to the work that goes into them. I’m a bit lazier. So while I’m super inspired by her I always try and figure out how I can get those flavors without putting the same amount of effort in.

A stack of burger buns with a miniature foodtruck in the right hand corner

My version sweet potato buns are super easy. They freeze and reheat well and are great with any burger. Like my Caesar fried chicken burger or with Korean fried chicken and some spring onions on top. Or served steaming hot and covered in salted butter. So here is my ‘recipe’ for cheaters sweet potato buns.

A stack of two sweet potato buns topped with everything bagel mix and a sweet potato on a bright orange background.

Super Easy Sweet Potato Burger Buns

Dorothy Porker
Super easy sweet potato buns, perfect for hamburgers.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Resting time 9 hrs 50 mins
Course Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Side dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10 buns

Equipment

  • Fork
  • Paper towel
  • Microwave
  • Food processor or stand mixer
  • Tea towel or other cover
  • Oven
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pack white bread mix store-bought, yes, really
  • 1 sweet potato unpeeled
  • everything bagel mix or other topping of choice

Instructions
 

  • These wouldn’t be cheaters sweet potato buns if I didn’t also cheat on the preparation of the sweet potato… So take a fork and stab 1 (unpeeled) potato all over.
  • Place the sweet potato on top of a paper towel in a microwave and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Turn the potato over and microwave for another 5 minutes. Remove from the microwave and leave it to rest until it is cool enough to handle.
  • Once the sweet potato has become cool enough to handle, after 10-15 minutes or so, scrape about 9 oz - 250 grams of the flesh out of its skin and add this to your food processor or stand mixer with the white bread mix and the amount of water and other ingredients the packaging tells you to ad.
  • Mix until the dough comes together.
  • Now cover and leave to proof as per the instructions of your bread mix. I like to proof mine twice according to packet instructions, 10 minutes first and then another 40 minutes after dividing and shaping the dough into buns, and top them with flakey salt and everything bagel mix, sesame seeds or whatever else I have laying around.
  • Preheat your oven at 200° C/ 400° F while the dough proofs.
  • Place the buns on some parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Because the dough is quite wet you will want to leave them in the oven with the oven switched off for an additional 10 minutes, and leave to cool completely on a wire rack before biting in to them.

Notes

In my opinion, burger buns are best if you grill them, cut side down, on a dry griddle, skillet or frying pan until there is some color on them. This ads texture and avoids any moisture from your patties or toppings soaking them to a sad mush.
Keyword bread rolls, buns, burger buns, burger rolls, sweet potato buns, sweet potato rolls

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31 of My Favorite Asian Cookbooks

Affiliate banner explaining there is an affiliate link for Bookshop.org, an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores, in this article.
Let me start off by saying I do not like the term ‘Asian’ the way it’s often used. While sometimes it is useful to specify a region, usually when people say Asian they’re talking about a small spart of Asia, or even just one country. I believe specificity matters and trying to talk about a continent that starts to the east of the Bosporus and stretches halfway across the globe to the Maluku islands as if it’s one place with one culture and one people isn’t very helpful.

India, China and Indonesia each could be considered continents with vastly different cultures and cuisines contained within their borders. Never mind what the diasporas have been cooking up.

That said even if this post is a lot of work, this is less work than milking this topic out into nine different posts (though I just might, for the fuck of it).

31 books? Are you sure?

I’ve read all of my ‘Asian’ cookbooks front to back. Some didn’t make the cut. I was left with 31 cookbooks I need to recommend because I want to give you a scope of styles to choose from. To save myself from my own ambitions I’ll try and stick to 1-3 sentences per book max.

I prefer cookbooks with a bit of backbone. Books that either give you a history lesson on a specific culture or a personal history of the author and why they cook the way they do. I also prefer easy recipes over anything too fussy. So that’s largely what you’ll find here.

I have linked to the publishers and/ or personal pages of the authors where possible, if you do buy one of these books consider buying them from an independent bookstore as they could really use our support and can probably recommend you some other wonderful cookbooks while you’re there.

Which Asian regions am I covering?

I was considering organizing this post along the lines of local (i.e. of and living in the country itself), x generation immigrant (2nd myself, hi), whites, etc. But that seemed needlessly complex and hard for you to scan. As conversations around authenticity evolve, who I am to decide what’s legit and who’s put in the work? Though I find you can usually tell if someone hasn’t and is more exploitative above anything else.

I can imagine you have a preference for specific cuisines, so here’s how I’ve organized them, so you can scroll down to the kitchen you’re interested in:

Let’s begin.

My favorite Indonesian and Dutch-Indonesian cookbooks

My grandmother sold snacks on the streets of Jakarta during World War 2, ran a kitchen on New Guinea and sold snacks out of her home in Brabant. Needless to say I grew up with a lot of Indonesian food, which hails influences from the Middle East, Portugal, the Chinese and the Dutch. Despite not cooking a lot of Indonesian food myself, and not having a true need for Indonesian cookbooks, I have mad love for many as a way of connecting with my history and other people with my background.

I’m including a lot of books in Dutch here because there are a lot of Dutch-Indonesian cookbooks and I think it’s a shame some of them haven’t been translated for a bigger audience.

Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from my Indonesian KitchenLara Lee
I love this book because Lara worked with my favorite photography team and because it’s about goddamned time Indonesian food got the international attention it deserves. It’s a great introduction to Indonesian food. For Coconut & Sambal Lara consulted Sri Owen, the grand dame of Indonesian cuisine, who I don’t own any books of yet, but if you can get your hands on one of her books: go for it. Order in the UK or US.

Rijsttafelen – Lia Warani
While most Dutch-Indonesians grew up with Beb Vuyk (more on her later) I grew up with my grandma and Lia respectively. It was originally published in the 70s, so it’s obviously a little dated, but I couldn’t engage in bouts of nostalgia without it. You can find it in Dutch for around €7.50 in thrift shops and the like. My recipe for perkedel kol bunga hails from Rijsttafelen.

Groot Indonesisch Kookboek – Beb Vuyk
Bij and large the most famous Dutch-Indonesian cookbook. I had not read it before so when I finally got round to it while preparing this post I was amazed by the breadth and scope of the recipes. There’s a few perkedel and an egg rendang in particular that have peaked my interest. It’s been re-released here many times over, if you’re looking for a classic, Beb’s your woman.

De Bijbel van de Indonesische KeukenMaureen Tan
Maureen Tan’s book came out last year and is a real triumph. Recipes are organized by region, with short introductions explaining the history and locality of each dish, to the point of including regional batiks with each chapter. If there is one book that deserves a translation in my opinion this is the one.

Indorock and IndostokVanja van der Leeden 
Vanja shook the Dutch perception of Indonesian food to its core in 2019 with the release of Indorock, which she followed up with Indostok (a book on sate) last year. You can read why and how Vanja decolonized the concept of Indonesian food in the Netherlands here.

My favorite Korean cookbooks

Koreatown: A CookbookDeuki Hong and Matt Rodbard
A combination of recipes and stories from Koreatowns all over the States. The recipes are all solid but the different experienced shared by Korean-Americans are what make this book extra special to me. I live for the Korean fried chicken recipe from Koreatown in particular. Order in the UK or US.

K Food: Korean home cooking and Street food – Da-Hae and Gareth West
This book is rich with Da-Hae’s personal history, from growing up in Korea, to moving to the UK and taking Gareth back with her to visit, a healthy mix of ‘authentic’ and new-fangled takes on Korean food and a little background with all the recipes. Order in the UK though it appears to have a different title there now.

L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My FoodRoy Choi
Roy Choi is one of my heroes because he is so invested in his city and its people. Choi is one of the (if not the) chefs who introduced the world to foodtrucks as we know them now and also the man who put the Mexican-Korean food of LA on the map, so this isn’t a strictly Korean cookbook. It’s also not just a cookbook but also an autobiography of Choi. His food is the best, his life story is goes deep and he’s really something else when it comes to social justice. If you’d like to get to know him a little better you can start by watching The Chef Show on Netflix. Order in the US.

My favorite Japanse cookbooks

Tokyo Cult RecipesMaori Murota 
I won this book a fair few years ago now and it’s never fails me. From kara age (Japanese fried chicken) to the inspiration for taka no kara age-inspired loaded fries. If you’re looking for accessible ‘home-style’ Japanese recipes get this book. Order in the UK or US.

The Gaijin Cookbook: Japanese Recipes from a Chef, Father, Eater and Lifelong OutsiderIvan Orkin and Chris Ying
I love this book because it offers an unapologetic outside-in perspective on Japanese food. Ivan is famous for opening a ramen shop in Tokyo, which everyone thought was a bit like okay bruv, to huge success. He’s invested in Japanese culture and cuisine without every forgetting his place within the whole. All the recipes are delicious but can seem a little cheffy if you’re a lazy homecook like me. Order in the UK or US.

Vegan Japaneasy: Over 80 Delicious Plant-Based Japanese RecipesTim Anderson
Tim Anderson is another chef who is very clear about his outside-in perspective on Japanese food and culture. This book works well because Tim has a clear perspective on how far people are willing to go for a decent homecooked meal. He’ll give you the extra step to make it really good, but will also tell you what you can skip (and remind you that that’s okay too so in the process). In my opinion this is key to making a useable cookbook. I’ve had this for about a week now and I’ve cooked at least three recipes from it. That’s rare and that’s why you need to get this book. Order in the UK or US.

My favorite Thai cookbooks

Night+Market: Delicious Thai food to facilitate drinking and fun-having amongst friendsKris Yenbamroong
Kris Yenbamroong’s Night+Market is such a well written and joyful read. Kris celebrates his grandmother and parents, who launched the first Thai fine dining restaurant in LA, and highlights the regional character of Thai cuisine where usually Thai food is presented as one block. On top of that he tells you how they chef it up in the restaurant kitchen but why (and how) you don’t really need to go there at home. And then there’s wine pairings too. Order in the UK or US.

Rosa’s Thai Cafe: The Vegetarian CookbookSaiphin Moore 
There are quite a number of reasons to love this book. The photography by Louise Hagger and styling by Alexander Breeze is stellar, for one. The recipes are mostly vegan and extremely diverse in scope. But above all, Saiphin Moore has embellished each recipes in Rosa’s Thai Café: The Vegetarian Cookbook with her rich personal history of eating experiences, recipe sources and more. This book gives you a real feel for all the regional Thai cuisines and Saiphin’s past growing up and living in various parts of Asia and now the UK. Order in the UK.

My favorite Chinese cookbooks

How to cook and eat in Chinese – Buwei Yang Chao
This is a book from the 1950s that I found thrift shopping. If you can get your hands on it it offers an extremely interesting insight into Chinese(-American) cooking abroad in the 50s. Buwei Yang Chao explanation of Chinese eating and cooking traditions and how to integrate American expectations of food is particularly interesting and a lot of the recipes have remained extremely useable for every day cooking now.

Eat BitterLydia Pang 
While this is more a zine than a cookbook, I had to include it. It features work from my favorite photography and styling team but more importantly it offers a brief but deeply poetic dive into Lydia Pang’s Hakka roots through food. It was sold at a limited run to support Welcome to Chinatown but I really hope Lydia gets to (and wants to) do a full book at some point because Eat Bitter is truly visionary.

The Nom Wah Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from 100 Years of New York city’s Iconic Dim Sum RestaurantWilson Tang with Joshua David Stein
Nom Wah is a legendary dim sum restaurant in New York. In The Nom Wah Cookbook Wilson Tang paints a history of the restaurants and its surrounding areas, from the 1920’s to it’s most current (pre-Covid) iteration through the stories of the people from Chinatown in New York as well as demystified dim sum recipes. The bright and bold photography by Alex Lau is icing on this very rich cake. Order in the US.

Xi’an Famous Foods: The Cuisine of Western China, from New York’s Favorite Noodle ShopJason Wang with Jessica K. Chou
Xi’an Famous Foods is another, albeit younger, New York legend. This book features stellar photography by Jenny Huang and explores the more personal history of Jason Wang and his father as they try to make it in America. It gives you a look inside the experiences of more recent Chinese immigrants and how the Wang’s have found success providing a taste of home in New York. Order in the UK or US.

The Food of Sichuan Fuchsia Dunlop
Originally released in the early 2000’s, this revised edition of The Food of Sichuan shows why Fuchsia has been such a powerhouse in the promotion of Sichuan cuisine over the past two decades. This book offers a true deep dive. While I normally read cookbooks back-to-front I have to admit I didn’t for this one because Fuchsia takes the time to explain the history and traditions for all of the dishes in this book. The introduction alone is worth its weight in gold and I doubt you will ever be done cooking and learning from this book. Order in the UK or US.

My Favorite Indian Cookbooks

Indian CookeryMadhur Jaffrey
First published in 1982, with an accompanying TV show on the BBC, Indian Cookery is a true classic. Because some ingredients have become more readily available in the UK and here, a lot of the recipes are still extremely useable today. If you’re looking for something more recent from Madhur try Instantly Indian, her Instant Pot book.

India: The CookbookPushpesh Pant
Pushpesh Pant is an Indian food critic, historian and academic who has spent decades researching and collecting Indian recipes. India: The Cookbook weighs 1.5 kg’s, boasting a thousand recipes and is the only other book alongside The Food of Sichuan that I did not read back-to-front because there are just so many recipes. All most all of them with background information. The kothmiratil macchi (coriander fried fish) are a particular favorite of mine. Be prepared to feel slightly overwhelmed. Pick an ingredient, look it up in the index and pick a recipe, is probably the best way to go. Order in the UK or US.

Indian(-ish): Recipes and antics from a modern American familyPriya Krishna
This book is basically an ode to Priya’s mom, who had to invent a life, a career and a way to cook when Priya’s parents first moved to the US. It’s as inventive as you’d expect, mixing flavors from all around the world as travel became an integral part of Ritu’s (that’s her name) life. In turn, reading this I realized Ritu’s cooking has been a part of my life for ages, as she is also frequently referenced as the source of recipes in Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables! If you’re looking for non-fussy flavor-heavy food with hints of India (among others) this is the book for you. Order Indian(ish) in the UK or US.

Burmese, Vietnamese and Malaysian

A lot of regions deserve more books. These are just a few of them.

Mandalay: Recipes & Tales from a Burmese KitchenMiMi Aye
MiMi has written a (for me at least) very relatable personal history on growing up in a diaspora, with all different foods at home from whatever the norm is in the country where you live, hunting down ingredients and travelling ‘back’ (something that wasn’t part of my upbringing) that that entails. Burmese food sounds vaguely familiair to someone with Indonesian roots, which is to say: Burmese food sounds an awful lot like comfort food to me. Please be sure to follow MiMi, who runs a wonderful podcast, talking with various food peeps (the Nigella episode is wonderful) and shares a lot of information on what’s going on in Myanmar right now. Order in the UK.

Ăn Ăn: Vietnamese familiereceptenMai Nguyễn
As luck would have it when I was looking for a Vietnamese cookbook Mai released Ăn Ăn. The book offers a beautiful personal history from Vietnam to the Netherlands, alongside many easy recipes that you can recreate at home with relative ease. As luck would have it I live only a brisk walk away from Mai, so I haven’t cooked a lot from this as I can just order take-out from her on Thursdays and Fridays.

Amazing Malaysian: Recipes for Vibrant Malaysian HomecookingNorman Musa 
I’m always curious why Malaysians and Indonesians seem to avoid mentioning one another when the overlap between our cuisines is clearly pretty big, though maybe there’s your answer. Either way, Norman offers a great look into the Malaysian kitchen and all the outside influences that have touched it, while keeping recipes nice and simple for actual home cooking. Order in the UK or US.

My favorite ‘Asian’ cookbooks

I own two cookbooks that I really like that cover a wider range of Asia, here they are:

Jackfruit & Blue Ginger: Asian favorites, made veganSasha Gill
If you’re looking for a broader vegan Asian tome, Sashi Gill is your woman. In Jackfruit & Blue Ginger: Asian Favorites Made Vegan Sasha shares well-beloved classic Asian dishes from India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, China and Japan, made vegan, as well as some basic techniques to veganize recipes of your own accord. Order in the UK or US (though it appears to have been released there under a different name).

Hot Pot: De lekkerste hotpots uit China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea en VietnamBas Robben
Bas Robben is a prolific Dutch cookbook author who has written books about acid and fat (separately, before it was cool) and sous-vide before and has now tackled hot pot, after being introduced to many variaties of hot pot during his visits to Taiwan, where his fiancee is from, among other places. The book is beautifully photographed and styled and Bas takes great care in sharing his personal affinities and encounters with hot pot as well as the way hot pot is enjoyed and prepared in the various regions this book cover. Hot pot is a social event and Bas hasn’t shied away from naming Covid and explaining that maybe now is not the best time for a proper grande ol’ hot pot get together and how you can enjoy it in a Covid-safe fashion, which I really appreciate as a lot of books seem to skirt around this issue.

My favorite ‘proudly inauthentic’ cookbooks

There are a few cookbooks I absolutely adore that take inspiration from such a wide range of cuisines, as I tend to do. So if you’re really into what used be to referred to as ‘fusion’, though this is a more informed version of its original iteration, these are the books for you.

Season: Big flavors, beautiful foodNik Sharma
Nik Sharma is an Indian home-cook now living in the States, the reasons for which will become clear if you read his book. After working as a scientist for a few years, he decided to follow his passion and focus on food. He developed a very unique and beautiful style of photography as well as a very unique and informed style of cooking as well, something that reaches a new pineacle in his second book The Flavor Equation. Because Nik explains why he mixes certain flavors and techniques Nik’s books are perfect for people who want to understand the why of cooking. Order Season in the UK or US.

Jikoni: Proudly inauthentic recipes from an immigrant kitchenRavinder Bhogal 
Ravinder was born to Indian parents in Kenya before moving to London as a child so you can imagine the amazing flavors she is able to bring together in this book. If you’re up for a revolution in your mouth, with beautiful, soft, glowing photography, this is the book for you. Order in the UK or US.

Soul Food: Eigentijdse recepten voor verslavend lekkere klassiekersDe Vrouw met de Baard
De vrouw met de Baard (the bearded lady) is a restaurant/ catering company (now take-away and pop-up) in Amsterdam, run by Dutch-Indonesian lady and a Moluccan guy with a beard. Together they concoct exciting flavors, taking influences from both their heritage and their travels. They’ve invested a lot of time maximizing flavors and tweaking iterations of a variety of classic dishes while inventing new ones. This book had me drooling cover to cover.

The Art of Escapism Cooking: A survival story, with intensely good flavorsMandy Lee
If you’ve been following me for a while you know I love Mandy, who has been the source and inspiration for many a dish on this website, the way her mind works and the way she puts flavors together is just mindblowing. I don’t think there’s anyone who goes through a more grueling process of recipe development, perfecting flavors and techniques to a t. So while a lot of these recipes may seem involved, there is an entire chapter of recipes Mandy eats when she’s by herself and those are all quick and easy. Order in the UK or US.

The end

So that’s it. My favorite 31 Asian cookbooks all in a row. Recommendations are of course welcome in the comments and I will be keeping a more up-to-date list on my Bookshop.org shops (yes there’s two, one for the UK and one for the US).

Zoek je de Nederlandse versie van deze post? Ga dan naar vettesletten.nl voor mijn 31 favoriete Aziatische kookboeken.

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