Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Asian Cookbooks for Beginners


Mottmott
 Share

Recommended Posts

I am not sure whether these will directly assist your friend, but good books are 'Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art' and 'Dashi and Umami: The Heart of Japanese Cuisine'. Both are good to gain an understanding of the Basics and principle of Japanese cooking, Also while some may debate on the style of food the Momofuku Cookbook would be a good start to move forward, its lots of modern fun creative food with asian influences.

'http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dashi-Umami-Heart-Japanese-Cuisine/dp/1897701934/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259021466&sr=1-1'

'http://www.amazon.co.uk/Japanese-Cooking-Simple-Shizuo-Tsuji/dp/4770030495/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259021413&sr=8-2'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think asian is pretty broad, what does she like? I personally have given up on Japanese - that is something that I enjoy at the restaurant but Thai curries or any kind of wok cookery is what I do at home.

I haven't used it much, but the Wagamama cookbook had some fairly simple recipes in it if I recall correct.

Momofuku may be too funky even though it does a very good job getting one exited.

Vongerichtens Asian Flavors was the first book that inspired me to actually run out to an asian supermarket - which I consider is the biggest challenge. If you don't have one or do not get comfortable buying fairly strange and unknown ingredients it will be tricky too cook.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook is a very good, large sample of a wide range of cuisines (from the usual suspects through to Burma and Laos). She has good explanations of pantry staples, typical flavours, and the recipes are fairly well explained. The book is a little old-fashioned in its approach and certainly in its visual style, but it's a worthy starting point for a very wide range of cuisines.

-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

Syrup & Tang - candid commentary and flavourful fancies

"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow thank you for all the recommendations! I like the Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian cookbook but it would be overwhelming for my friend. I have gifted it to several of my other friends, and they loved the book. My friend really likes Japanese and Chinese food, so I will most likely focus on those for right now. I am hoping to expose her to Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, Thai and different regions of Chinese cuisines to see where her interests lie . I might have to check out the Wagamama cookbook. I am really looking for easy basic cookbook, because she is a beginner, in both asian and "american" cookery. Would Vongerichtens Asian Flavors be good for someone who is learning to cook? I have to rely on amazon to peruse cookbook mainly because where I live there isn't a lot of english cookbooks, so any input from egulleters is appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just remembered the thin, "Quick and Easy" or "Quick'n'easy" books for Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and others. They're very pictorial (including ingredients) and might be good as an introduction. Many people overlook these softcover books because of the title, but in fact they're well worth a look.

-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

Syrup & Tang - candid commentary and flavourful fancies

"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For Japanese, A First Book of Japanese Cooking, if you can get it, is a good place to start. There's one that's even better for beginners, but I can't remember the name or author off-hand, and I can't find it on Amazon.

There's also Quick & Easy Japanese Cuisine for Everyone. "Quick & Easy" is a series of Asian cookbooks--Vietnamese, Chinese, etc. I can't vouch for authenticity, but if she's really new to cooking, they could be a good place to start. You can "look inside" on Amazon to see if they may meet your (your friend's) needs/wants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow..I will my homework to do! :) I think I will probably buy one of the quick and easy books since, another friend is being introduced to cooking through quick and easy thai, and I think I will seriously have to have a good look through those. Prasantrin, I really like the explanations in the First look at Japanese Cooking, but I think she needs photographs too, so I was wondering maybe buying one of the Easy books and First look but then again they go over a lot of the same recipes... Maybe I am agonizing over this too much! :P Well I guess I will be taking my time perusing all the suggestions... :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You might also want to think about the Wei Chuan series of cookbooks. They are very good, pictures for every recipe, including pictures not only of the finished recipes, but also of the process and ingredients. Paperback, one recipe per page.

But, for an excellent into to Chinese cooking, don't overlook the masterful "Modern Art of Chinese Cooking" by Barbara Tropp. While this book doesn't have any photos, her explanations are outstanding -- from ingredients to techniques, and it's a book that's appreciated by beginners and experts alike. It's probably the most well-worn book in my collection -- I use it as much today as I did when I could hardly boil water.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a big fan of Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty---it's big on technique and very informative, though only really for Sichuanese food. She has another book on Hunanese food, but I haven't read it yet. Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen is also pretty good. Both of these cookbooks emphasize technique and have long introductions. Not to mention beautiful pictures.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen is also pretty good. Both of these cookbooks emphasize technique and have long introductions. Not to mention beautiful pictures.

The Nguyen book is very approachable, and the dishes I've tried are delicious.

I'd also recommend "Harumi's Japanese cooking" by Harumi Kuhihara. Harumi mixes Asian and Western ingredients to great effect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've liked The Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin Fei Lo. One thing to keep in mind is your friend's ability to get some of the more unique ingredients called for in some of the Asian books. My recollection of the Barbara Tropp book, for example, is that the ingredients were pretty common. Fuschia Dunlop's book is a bit more specialized and some things may be harder to find, depending on where she lives and how committed she is to find them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

if she has access to an Asian market, the new Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking is a nice book, lots of instructions. But you need to get quite some things for your pantry.

My first exposure to Asian cooking was Thailand, The Beautiful Cookbook. Most things I found easy to replicate.

There's the cheap Thai and South East Asian Cooking by Hermes House that has a ton of recipes and pix, just not much background. Of course, there's Thai Food by David Thompson, a really great book. Or Hot Sour Salty Sweet, following the Mekong river all through Asia.

But for a beginner, I'd just go to the local bookstore and look at some of the smaller tomes. Once your friend has some of the basic staples it's easy to come up with your own stir fry dishes etc.

Of course, all of the above are great too. Not sure if Chinese would the way to go, a lot of the dishes are a lot of work, Thai is faster. Japanese or Korean are interesting too, but also time consuming.

Always great to get a new cook hooked on the foods of the world, good luck!

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some of the suggestions here are pretty good (I like the series from Japan House and Joie too, though the latter might not be available in the US). Don't overlook the Williams-Sonoma series (Food Made Fast) and Cooking from Above: Asian (published by Hamlyn). I think the Cooking from Above series is a hidden gem- it's cheap, easy to follow (literally every step has a picture), and has a pretty good variety of Asian recipes from different countries.

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your suggestions. I decided to go with A first Book of Japanese Cooking because the explanations were clear. It was a cuisine she is somewhat familiar with, but I am still a little apprehensive.I waffled a lot over this book and the Quick and Easy. I decided also to pick up Cooking from Above asian. DH said I was thinking too much into this, but I cannot help it, as I want to help her become a better cook .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Ching He-Huang's books are also very easy and a good introduction for people who are slowly familiarising themselves with Chinese cuisine. The ingredients she uses are for the most part readily available from your conventional supermarket -nothing too 'exotic' for your Asian cooking-newbie.

I'd recommend both 'China Modern' and 'From China with Love'. Very recently, I've started to cook from her books and they're scrumptious! However, if you're seeking authenticity, look elsewhere. While Ching's recipes still respect the core of Chinese cuisine, her food has been adapted to be healthier and easier.

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bit late to the party here, but I thought I'd toss in Grace Young's Breath of the Wok, a beautiful book with quite straightforward recipes from chefs to home cooks. I would avoid the inconsistent Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, myself: too many misses in my kitchen from that book to count.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

my current favorite japanese cookbook is washoku, which i use practically every week. it is an amazing book for "homestyle" japanese cooking (per what i've read and what my japanese friends have said). the ingredient list can be a bit daunting, but otherwise, it's amazing.

for chinese, i love my betty crocker new chinese cookbook -- it's from the 80s and is definitely americanized, but good.

i also got the seventh daughter, but don't use it much.

for thai, i have real thai and love it. very thorough, excellent recipes, no assumption of methods, but does come with the assumption that you're willing to try the methods necessary to create authentic thai food...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

What do experienced folks think about Barbara Tropp's cookbooks as a launching place for beginners? I'm also trying to wade into these waters and have read good things about her cookbook, especially the China Moon Cookbook.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Barbara Tropp's first book, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, is a wonderful reference with excellent explanations. Her passion exudes from the pages. She was a classical Chinese scholar and it shows in her attention to detail. Personally, I found China Moon "life changing" in terms of my cooking style, but it is not a classical reference. As she states in the book, it is her own brand of Chinese cooking from her restaurant experience in San Francisco, with the bounty of California. I recommend that book just for the side notes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do experienced folks think about Barbara Tropp's cookbooks as a launching place for beginners?

It depends on what kind of beginner they are, I think. I would consider myself a beginner at Chinese cooking, and before moving to China, I purchased "The Modern Art" by Barbara Tropp, Yan-Kit So's "Classic Chinese Cookbook", and Fuschia Dunlop's "Revolutionary Chinese Cuisine".

I never, ever cook from Tropp's book. I have used it only once; to season my wok. For that, it was excellent. In my edition (the paperback) there are no photos, but rather lots of technical diagrams. If you like diagrams, it's the book for you. I get halfway down the page, and my eyes slide away into the ether. I've really, really tried to cook from it. Really. But I get bored halfway through her extremely technical descriptions. I've never read a care and usage handbook for nuclear reactors or a C++ programming guide, but I imagine they read similarly to Barbara Tropp's recipes. I can't help but think it could have lost pages and pages of copy with a few well-chosen photos. Nevertheless, if you're a beginning cook as well as a beginner to Chinese cuisine, then you may appreciate this level of detail. A further photo critique: my copy has no photos, so if you've never made these dishes before, it's hard to guess what a correct finished dish may look like. However, since I think this book dates from the early eighties, it has a lot of substitution-type ingredients. The recipe for dry-fried beans, I think it is, calls for balsamic vinegar if you can't get Chinkiang. Useful if you live in a place where you don't have access to a lot of ingredients. Anyway, I think of this book as Chinese cooking for engineers.

Yan-kit So does employ a lot of photos, to great effect, I think. She has a pictorial guide of ingredients in the front which I find extremely valuable for visits to the market. The only criticism I can level is that I wish she'd included their names in characters and in pinyin, but this is of minor importance if you'll be shopping in an English-language environment. Her recipes are written simply, and are easy to read through at a glance. I find with her recipes, I got an immediate sense of how the dish would be cooked from start to finish, and after reading two or three recipes, I could see a common method emerge for a lot of the dishes. I'm sure that is there in Tropp's book, but because I have the attention span of a gnat, I was completely disinterested in following through her recipes to find it. I don't actually find myself cooking from this much, but I do use it as a reference book. Chinese cooking for people who don't want to spend a lot of time reading tomes of information.

I do cook quite a bit from Fuschia Dunlop's book. I'm not sure exactly why - whether I find the photos more inspiring; or perhaps it's because there are fewer seafood recipes in this book than in So's book, as my husband doesn't eat fish or shellfish. Either way, I probably cook from this once a week. Like So's book, the recipes are easy to read through and grasp the method. Additionally, there are many photos of finished dishes to grasp the idea from, as well as details about the back story of each dish and lots of Chinese "atmosphere". However there's not a great deal of method discussed compared to Tropp's book. Cooking techniques and ingredients are discussed in the first section, though without the technical diagrams of Tropp or the helpful photos of So. Chinese cooking for an intermediate cook who really wants to get on a plane but is using this as the next best thing.

To sum up, I'd say that if you're new to cooking in general, Tropp's book will hold your hand, but won't give you a lot of visual inspiration. So's book will hold your hand and give you more pictures to get you started. Dunlop is probably a good choice if you're confident in your basic cooking skills and feel comfortable with new ingredients, but are looking to expand your horizons a bit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was first learning to cook Chinese, Yan-Kit So's "Classic Chinese Cookbook" was, more than any other single book, the cornerstone of my education. It's not perfect, and it's not comprehensive, but what's there is very good indeed, and ideal for a serious beginner. Dunlop isn't quite so beginner-friendly to my mind.

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally, I found China Moon "life changing" in terms of my cooking style, but it is not a classical reference.

Exactly! One Christmas, years ago, a friend brought me some buns made from that book. She had made them, herself. I could not believe an ordinary person could do that! I got the book and made the oils at the front of the book. Certainly "life changing" for cooking. Snowy day today, maybe I'll get it out.

Would not recommend it for a real beginner though.

First books were a spiral series: "By The Editors of Consumer Guide" Wok Cooking Class, Chinese Cooking Class and my first introduction Japanese Cooking Class. Copied from an Australian series it appears.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By ojisan
      Does anyone have any thoughts about Alice Waters' new "40 Years of Chez Panisse"? Not a recipe cookbook - more of a memoir/history/picture book.
    • By Rushina
      What would you like to be included in a cookbook you classify as a "good cookbook"?
      Rushina
    • By Multiwagon
      Other than the three written by Michael Ruhlman, which I have read and loved, what other books are out there that are about cooking, but not cookbooks?
    • By OliverB
      I just received a copy of "The Cook's Book - Concise Edition" edited by Jill Norman, and now I'm curious, what's the difference to the full edition? Supposedly it has 648 pages compared to 496 in this edition, and it appears to be much larger in size if the info on us.dk.com is correct. Other than that I can't find any info what the difference might be. It's a neat book with lots of photos about techniques etc, and lots of recipes. As with any DK book production values are high.
      If the contents are the same, I'm happy with the smaller version, but I'd really like to know what I might be missing on those 150 or so pages. If it's just filler, I don't care. If it's some fantastic recipes, I do care....
      Anybody here know both editions? Google was so far of no help. Lots of the full edition are to be had used as well, I'd be happy giving this one as a gift and ordering the full edition, if it's worth it.
      Thanks!
      Oliver
    • By devlin
      Say you were rounded up with a group of folks and either had a skill to offer in exchange for a comfy room and some other niceties or were sent off to a slag heap to toil away in the hot sun every day for 16 hours, what 3 books would you want to take with you to enable you to cook and bake such fabulous foodstuffs that your kidnappers would keep you over some poor schlub who could cook only beans and rice and the occasional dry biscuit?
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...