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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2004
This work happily sits next to better known "classics" on my bookshelf like the Larousse Gastronomique. I can't imagine a better book to introduce yourself to authentic and plainly written recipes from all over Asia, but although it covers such a vast geographical area the attention to practical details is welcome, especially when you're wondering whether to salt the rice or not.
To complain of the dirth of photos is perhaps to miss the point slightly, unlike glossy "occassion" recipe books this is written as a reference to be used for every-day cooking; if you love Asian food you'll find yourself working your way through the recipes rather than flicking until an inevitable brightly coloured stir-fry catches your eye. And if you really do use it daily there is plenty of information to make your life easier, from concise lists of essential ingredients to recipes for time saving generic spice pastes.
There's a lifetime's worth of cooking in this book, I simply couldn't imagine being without it.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2004
I first bought this book 15 years ago and it has been a favourite ever since.
The recipes are amazingly diverse and introduce you to flavours that even now you're unlikely to have come across in the UK. My particular favourites are the Burmese dishes - very simple using every day ingredients, but stunning taste.
I thought I'd lost my copy after a couple of house moves, so I didn't hesitate to buy another (and then sure enough I found the old one, but no regrets - I've got an archive copy and a kitchen copy now!).
This is not a coffee-table book for readers to drool over pictures, it's a hands-on practical book for people who want to cook fantastic food. Do have a go making your own thai curry pastes and coconut milk. It isn't hard and the results are just superb - way way better than shop-bought stuff.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2006
I have been cooking Asian food since the mid seventies when the ingrediants in this book were hard to get, these days every thing, even the most exotic, are freely available. Without doubt this is the best Asian cookbook I have ever used so much so that I rarely use any other. I have used many of the recipes in this book and have not had a failure, they wor. I annot recommend it highly enough.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I love this book and use it all the time. The Indian and Chinese sections are terrific, and I've liked everything I've tried so far. The curried chicken with cashews is divine, though I must say that there are many recipes equally nice.
At the start of each type of cuisine, there is a brief section describing how each is traditionally cooked and eaten in its country of origin, some notes on the types of ingredients favoured, and finally a "storecupboard" of ingredients necessary to prepare that particular cuisine. There are also good substitution tables at the back.
The measurements are in cups, which is a bit of a drag, but easy enough to work out proportionately. This is my favourite international cookbook and I'd recommend it to anybody.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2012
Had this book a year or 2 now, and absolutely love it, so time to review.

The recipes are categorised by country, and then by course of food (rice/noodles, soup, vegetable, fish, poultry, meat, sweets/desserts), which is great if you want to host a dinner party that specialises in a particular country's food. The breadth of this book is amazing, everything from stick schezuan curry, to amazing satay beef and more curries than you could ever wish to eat. Including recipes from more obscure country's culinary culture is great too, being able to cook burmese and sri lankan makes a change from the usual indian/thai/chinese cookbooks. It does a great job of providing as close to traditional recipes as possible, even mentioning what the traditional way is in a little comment before the recipe (generally it comes down to using a special cooking method that is either impractical or not safe to do in a modern western kitchen). On rare occasions the recipe will divert away from the traditional recipe when the author feels it significantly improves the dish, but the only case I've come across of this is one recipe which uses soy sauce in an Indian dish. Being an asian cookbook the sweets and desserts are generally quite sickly (not to my personal tastes), but some of the recipes sound quite unusual to experiment with.

Now the downside of giving traditional recipes is the meal size. Almost all the dishes are made for 6-8 people, even up to 10 in some cases. In the case of meat dishes they usually involve cooking with a whole chicken or a whole leg of lamb/pork, which can be inconvenient if you only want to cook the dish for a few people. for the most part though the dishes are easy enough to downsize, since it's the spice mixtures and cooking techniques that are the important thing. On the odd occasion it can prevent me from bothering with a recipe though.

The other downside of this traditional approach are there are a lot of dishes that require spices you won't find in a supermarket. In the introduction to each country the author does a good job of explaining the characteristic spices that should be kept in the cupboard for the respective country (as well as what a kitchen is traditionally like, traditional cooking methods, any bases that are commonly used in a lot of dishes and any annecdotes the author has about her experience of that country's culinary culture) but some of these are difficult to find even in an asian supermarket! There is the odd occasion where there are so many obscure ingredients in a recipe that it was pretty much impossible to get anything anywhere near resembling the listed dish, but I respect that the book shows how to get the exact traditional taste if you want to go to the effort of finding the obscure ingredients, and it probably doesn't hurt to drop out a spice here or there if you just want a meal that tastes nice.

But back to the positives: this book has a LOT of recipes. It's a lot of fun to flick through and decide what to cook that day. There is some small repition in parts, but this is due to categorising the recipes by country, with a lot of countries having slight variations on a similar theme (e.g. a lot of countries have some form of coconut rice). These variations are distinct enough to warrant a different recipe though, so that's more of a consideration than a complaint (e.g. in the case of coconut milk, different countries use different amounts of coconut milk, different types of rice, and some use spices - so the result will be a bit different).

This is a book that I'll be keeping as my asian food bible. It's a book of substance over style with plenty of recipes to amaze, even though most are pretty simple, it's the spice combinations that are exciting. There are a few drawbacks as I've mentioned, but I've noted these just so people can make a more valid decision in buying the book (I hope this review doesn't come across as too negative!!). The recipes are simple for the casual cook, but contain all the traditional ingredients for the foodie who wants to do things right.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2002
I have had mine for 20 years and have used it often. Follow the recipes and you will get authentic tasting asian food. She is able to give clear instructions, simplyfying steps when possble and yet give fantastic results. Try the Beef Rendang. It is better than many I have tasted ( and I have tasted many as I come from Malaysia).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2002
I first purchased this book twenty four years ago and have used it so much that my original volume is on the point of disintegrating. It contains recipes from every Asian nation from the familiar Chinese to the more unusual Vietnamese and Korean. There is a glossary for unusual ingredients and recommendations for the store cupboard. The recipes are clearly explained and easy to follow. There are plenty of colour pictures. I have subsequently bought more country specific cook books with a larger number of dishes in, but I still return to this book time and time again. An excellent first Asian cookbook.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2009
I bought this book in about 1977 whilst living in Hong Kong and I still have it and use it today. However, after so much use and travel the hardback cover and spine have come off and many pages are stained with spices. The sign of an excellent and well used recipe book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2000
This book was first published in the 1970's and has been in and out of print ever since. It covers the whole range of asian cooking , including indian, chinese and Thai recipes. The sections on 'shelves' ie what you need to keep in your larder for any particular country's cuisine is very useful. Ms Solomon is from Sri Lanka so the section on this country is excellent try the urumas baden pork curry, you'll never go to the take-away again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2008
I have used this book for many years now and have made many of the Indian, Sri Lankan and Chinese recipes repeatedly. The recipes are authentic, clearly explained and turn out perfectly. She explains how to make your own spice mixes as well, which is very useful. I have never been disappointed. For example I made breudher as per the recipe in this book for the first time as a novice cook. It was really very good and well worth the effort..
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