This is a beautifully produced hardback with a wealth of attractive colour photos: a real coffeetable cookbook, which is a joy to flick through. The recipes comprise starters, soups, salads, seafood, poultry, pork, lamb & beef, noodles & rice, vegetables & tofu and desserts. At the beginning is' Bill's Asian Pantry' which is a glossary of ingredients. I found this very useful. And the good news is that there isn't really anything fiddly to get hold of. I was interested to read that Bill Granger contributes recipes to Waitrose kitchen. This book is suitable for the beginner into Asian cookery as well as the experienced cook. It contains classics such as Thai Green Chicken Curry as well as lesser known dishes. There is a good variety of regions such as dishes from Thailand, Vietnam and Korea.
The recipes are all very straightforwardly written. I had success with Panfried Duck Breast with Plum Sauce (page 108). I was amused by the name of Crying Tiger Beef Fillet with Chilli Dipping Sauce. Apparently, this dish is so named because 'the chilli content is so high that it could make a tiger cry.' Maybe I'll give that one a miss.
I was happy to see a section on desserts. I know desserts aren't big in Asia but the Chinese Custard Tarts are delicious. They are just regular mini custard tarts except they are made with puff pastry instead of shortcrust. This is a really interesting variation to try on your friends.
The only drawback is that it's a heavy book to work from in the kitchen and I'd hate to get it splashed so I'd recommend photocopying the relevant page to use as a recipe guide. This really is a beautiful book and would make a great Christmas present for anybody interested in Asian cuisine.
This is my second Bill Granger cookbook, having previously tried recipes from Bill's Basics. That book had an undeniably Asian bias so it's no surprise that he has turned his hand to an exclusively Asian book.
Now Bill is Australian and it shows in his choice of ingredients. They are readily available in Coles supermarkets but may present more of a challenge to UK readers. Mirin, in particular, is simply not a flavour that you'll find in Europe, which is a pity because it adds a big and special sweetness (with a slightly vinegary edge) to a meal. And it seems to crop up in a surprising number of the recipes in the book.
At first, I thought the recipes weren't quite right. In particular, there was a reliance on green beans fried for a minute which left them crisper than I thought was tight. But after visiting South East Asia I can vouch that they are right. If you want the beans softer, just steam them for a bit. Many of the recipes seem to have a lot of things coming together in the last five minutes for which a clean kitchen and a cool head make a lot of difference. It's true that most recipes are one pot, but you need plenty of bowls and boards for the ingredients and if you are preparing more than one thing at once, there will be banging pots aplenty. But of all the cookbooks I have I seem to keep coming back to Bill's Everyday Asian. The recipes do require some cooking skills - especially judging when things are just right, but the flavours are awesome.
I have tried several recipes from the book:
Classic stir-fried chicken and basil: works OK, but is nicer with pork. The chicken mince tends to get a bit claggy and the beans should probably have been pre-cooked a little. One and a half minutes in a dryish pot of mince simply won't cook them.
Stir-fried chilli pork: works very well; rich flavours from the hoisin sauce work superbly with the mirin; the pork absorbs the flavours, turns quite dark brown and the sauce is glutionous. Not sure why the recipe tells you to leave the chilli stalks on as that just means you have to hold the stalks with your fingers and bite off the chillies.
Beef rendang: the recipe says it cooks in 2-2.5 hours. It doesn't. I needed more than four hours to get the consistency right - beef tender to the point of falling apart - because the sauce is quite dry. It also needed topping up with water from time to time, despite being on the lowest simmer heat. The end result, though, was divine - as good or better than any rendang I have had before.
Green bean sambal: a simple recipe that would not work without pre-steaming the beans to lose some of the raw crunch. I don't know how Bill thinks grean beans can cook in one minute of stir frying - and I'm not trying to get soft beans, just ones that don't feel completely raw.
Steamed Asian greens: cooked this with a mixture of broccolini and pak choi and it was superb. The veg, which are blanched rather than steamed, are OK but the sauce lifts the dish into a magical realm. Very rich and sweet with the mirin working wonders.
Pork larb - this Lao dish is a staple - the kids keep asking for a reprise and the fun is enhanced by using the Lao method of eating with fingers, wrapping meat in bits of lettuce.
Fish sambal - works perfectly and the blend of chilli and anchovy in the sambal sauce makes your tastebuds sing.
Coconut rice - the recipe says leave alone with the lid on - this led to burnt rice at the bottom of the pan and the top part of the rice was a bit sticky - the flavour was good and I'm willing to work to make this right.
Beef salad with orange dressing - really works, the orange dressing is unusual but had enormous complexity
Salmon and lychee salad - this is a splendid recipe that is full of depth. All of the individual flavours of the fresh ingredients shine through (more so if you use fresh lychees rather than tinned ones)
The presentation of the book is worth mentioning. It's A4, hardback (so it stays open at the right page), bound in pink with an embossed dust jacket with a gorgeous design. It is chock full of photos - most recipes have a photo (which does actually look like the finished product), interspersed with unlabelled double page photo spreads. Most of these are of food, but because it isn't labelled, you can't turn to the recipe to reproduce nice looking dishes. Some recipes are of Bill himself and his daughters. Two double spreads are of the same lake - one with Bill in the foreground and one without. These photo spreads add nothing at all; they just pad out a book and make it more likely that it will be stored on a coffee table than in a kitchen. On the positive side, Bill's Asian Pantry is a useful addition to the book, listing some of the more esoteric ingredients and explaining exactly what they are and what purpose they serve - making substitutions more straightforward. It's also fun to have a book which is prepared to mix and match - having Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malay and Indonesian recipes all in the same book - sometimes in the same recipe.
On balance, this book works. I am prepared to trust the recipes and the whole family love the results. The recipes do require some technique but if you are competent in the kitchen you will be able to get pretty spectacular results from relatively straightforward work. Bill's recipes may not always be traditionally pure, but he knows how to make fresh, good quality ingredients combine to make something that adds up to more than the parts.
My review started out as three star some years ago. Time and use has earned it the full five stars. I recommend this book.
on 6 September 2013
For me this really lived up to its promise. I have never cooked so many recipes from one cookbook before. I am from an asian background and have some experience of cooking asian food, but I really think that the great thing about these recipes is that they are pared down to the minimum number of ingredients and the minimum amount of fuss with no compromise on flavour. Many of these dishes can be cooked quickly after work with little preparation. You do need to have a few asian goods in your store cupboard, probably easily found in one trip to an asian supermarket but these are largely store cupboard goods that will keep.
For anyone who loves asian food, and wants to cook and eat it regularly, this is a great book.
on 23 February 2012
It's so much more fun to write a review of something that you really, really love or really, really hate... well, which is it to be? Hm. Ok, I'll come out with it and say - I LOVE this book. I have never tried any of Bill Granger's other cook books, but I adore Asian food and liked the idea of a book that would make it simple and easy to cook. This really does fit the bill.
The absolutely beautiful photos are what make the book for me. I was so taken with them that I had to go and google the photographer's name and look at their other work. The images really are visually stunning and inspiring. It makes me want to cook the recipes and try to make them as beautifully presented. Some people might think there are too many photos in this book, I suppose. 'Some people' definitely isn't me, though - I love a well illustrated cookbook and find it adds to the experience of using it as it gives me something to aim for with my finished product.
Of course, I should really be talking about the star attraction here - the recipes. This really is a very comprehensive collection. There are the usual suspects (thai green curry, pad thai etc) but there are also many quirkier options such as meatballs with tamarind glaze. The recipes cover a range of different cuisines including Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Malaysian and more. Though probably not very authentic, these are adapted to use easy-to-find ingredients (for example lime and normal sugar rather than kaffir leaves and palm sugar). This makes the book much easier to cook with here in the UK. It also comes with suggested 'store cupboard ingredients' at the start of the book, including suggestions for types of oils. I found it easy to buy everything I wanted to.
I will come out and admit it: I am a vegetarian. I buy cookbooks of all descriptions, but then like to adapt them to be vegetarian (for instance, I'll make the same thing but using tofu instead of chicken). There are some dedicated vegetarian recipes in the book - for example the cubed silken tofu with chilli sauce - and equally many other recipes are relatively easy to adapt.
All in all - I love this book. My mum covets it. Everything I've made from it has been delicious. It's also a fantastic source of inspiration, because it's so beautiful to look at (apart from all those photos of Bill on holiday. Sorry, Bill.)
on 18 February 2012
What a pretty cover for a recipe book, as vibrant as the food; just as pretty without the cover as well (lovely pink). As someone who has a ton of recipe books covering a range of nations I decided "why not" when this came up as a choice for me to review. Having previously reviewed Bill's Basics in 2010, I remembered how good his recipes were to follow. The idea of it being an everyday book means I can have a change from something that I want to cook in the slow cooker for my convenience on a working week to this book where a lot of the recipes can be completed in short times. Yep I know another chef has a range of books covering 30 minutes (and I have that one too) but some of these are even shorter - perfect for after my toddler has gone to bed.
His introduction isn't too much of a waffle and it is followed nicely by the chapter Bill call's his Asian pantry and lists a range of ingredients used in the recipes and explains what they are their flavourings - such as in the recipes themselves he uses light-flavoured oil and whilst I have a range of oils available it was nice to refer to this section of the book for a more detailed explanation of which oil and why. Before even getting to the recipes I've tried (six of them), the photographs needs a mention. The photography is excellent - including that of the places mentioned in the collection. Using the photographs with the recipes gave me an idea of serving; they are clear and such good quality.
Right, the recipes. As I said, I've tried six of them: red fish curry, turmeric fish, stir-fried Vietnamese lemon grass chicken, spa-style poached chicken with sesame bean salad, Japanese curry and black bean beef. All of these were straight forward to make ranging from about 15 minutes through to the curry which simmered away for two hours. Whilst I really didn't like the turmeric fish - it looked awful and just was a bunch of nothing on the plate - the other five have been good. I might not have the poached chicken as it came like that, but I would be happy to use the separate components to make another meal. We'll definitely be going on to try more of the recipes in the book. I do think this book would make a good gift for a foodie because it isn't complicated and where he appreciates some of the ingredients are harder to acquire, he also offers alternatives.
on 30 January 2012
The recipes in this book are varied and incredibly easy to make. My husband has made 3 of these dishes since we got the book a month ago. He never cooks but he loves his spicy food, and this is the best way for him to produce man-friendly food often in around 20 minutes without using every pan in the house. There are photos of each dish although not always on the same page as the recipe. Most pages have one recipe per page which just looks nicer and less cluttered.
There are no impossible-to-source ingredients. For example, the thai recipes use limes and regular sugar instead of the more exotic (admittedly more authentic) kaffir limes and palm sugar. My shopping list for many of these recipes is just one type of meat and a veg or two, everything else is already in the cupboard. There is a good range of courses (soups, salads, veggie food, meaty mains).
LOVELY TO LOOK AT
Aside from the wistful pictures of Bill in various Asian locations, the photos are of food looking gorgeous and uncomplicated. You look at the pictures and think 'I could totally make that'.
LOVELY TO EAT
I have no idea how authentic the dishes taste, but they definitely taste delicious. A lot of the recipes recommend serving with plain rice which is ideal as there is a lot of flavour packed into these meals. Several of the main courses are surprisingly dry which was unexpected. It's a bit of a revelation not having a big saucy Asian dinner and we're total converts now.
I definitely recommend this book. A good present for boyfriend/husband or not-so experienced cook who might like to impress someone in the kitchen. Great for post-work dinners as a lot of recipes hardly take 30mins to cook.
Bill's Everyday Asian is the kind of the book that will make you want to go shopping for ingredients to try out the recipes -- or at least find a friend who will.
People nowadays are a lot more familiar with Asian cooking -- and this includes Asians getting to know other Asian cuisines. But this familiarity can be limited and often comes from eating out at the local Asian restaurant or ordering takeaway. This book takes that familiarity to the next step of having a go and cooking some of those dishes at home. It starts by listing ingredients and advising you on stocking your cupboard, then it distils the recipes into accessible propositions. In some cases, Granger suggests substitutes, especially where an ingredient is hard to come by, and he usually explains, which helps: what flavour you get from this or that, what colour or texture you can expect at such and such stage in cooking, why you do a certain something for this recipe, even how or when it's usually eaten and how he eats it. It's not necessarily prescription either; Granger's style is so approachable and encouraging that you take his introducations and asides as suggestions and openings into possibilities. You get the sense that you don't have to eat it in just one way just to be authentic -- just enjoy it.
The photography is bright and attractive -- familiar in that it is of a similar standard and style to what you will usually find in glossy magazines and cookbooks and making for a well presented cookery book. I would've preferred one or two more recipes in favour of one or two less photographs, but then it is handy for not having to turn the page when you're cooking from a recipe. And it does make for a book nice enough to give as a present. All in all it's enough for me to try and find Granger's other books to see how he treats other kinds of cookery.
Not being a great lover of Asian food,although I do enjoy some of it,I thought I would let my son have the book to review as he is definitely an Asian food expert.
Here is his review:-
Bill's Everyday Asian is a well presented hardback cookbook. The photography is top notch, the page layouts are easy to read with nice clean typographical treatments. The book is weighty and feels contemporary clean and fresh, much like the recipes presented within. The book also sits open on the bench easily, allowing you to refer back to the recipe whilst cooking, all cooking books should sit open easily, as in my opinion there's nothing worse than having to thumb through your recipe book in the middle of food preparation with your greasy fingers.
The book contains hundreds of quality recipes from the cuisines of a range of Asian cultures taking in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. The recipes themselves offer a slight twist on the classic Asian variants, no doubt reflecting Bill's Australian heritage, with each recipe feeling a little more fusion than classic Asian.
Bill's twist in this cookbook is presenting Asian food as a family meal option, showing that strong flavoured Asian cuisine prepared with fresh ingredients can tempt the taste buds of anyone. I think the book succeeds only partly in this respect, as Asian food and the strong flavours therein, may be too much for younger children of western cultures, particularly families in areas without diverse melting pot cultures."
While I am a big fan of Asian food, I enjoyed these recipes very much, the meals are tasty and easy to prepare, however, I would not recommend it for first time Asian food cooks, the flavours, while toned down, are still very powerful and this may put off the novice Asian food fan.
Recommended for fans of Asian cuisine looking for a book containing ALL the classic recipes albeit with a modern antipodean fusion twist.
on 18 November 2011
I loved this cookbook for many reasons:
- healthy ingredients
- appealing photos that appeared natural
- one paragraph of background info on the left
- on the right ingredients and the instructions
And PLENTY OF WHITE SPACE to write comments on what the cook and his/her guests thought about the dish and also comments on changes to the ingredients, etc which I consider a must with a cookbook. A cookbook is going to get stained whilst cooking so why not write in it as well - really personalises the book and it is great to look back on. So white space is very welcome.
I particularly liked the section on desserts because I don't always associate Asian food with desserts and so this was a novely section for me (perhaps not for other users). I tried Chinese Custard Tarts which were easy to make and they were delightful. Lime Jelly with lychees caused a stir amongst my friends (might have been the vodka ingredient which is optional!).
The soup section also had its delights - as the author says sometimes the soup is the main event in the meal rather than a prelude. Roast chicken and egg noodle soup was delicious whilst duck soup was heaving with flavour.
Apart from the Soups and Desserts sections there are sections on STARTERS, SALADS, SEAFOOD,POULTRY, PORK, LAMB & BEEF, NOODLES & RICE, VEGETABLES & TOFU.
Generally there are quite a lot of ingredients to collect before you start a dish but it is worth trawling around for those special ingredients. The recipe instructions are concise and easy to follow and the resulting dishes are divine to the taste buds.
The book states that the recipes are for the EVERYDAY and if you have most of the main ingredients in your kitchen cupboards (see the two-page section on Bill's Asian Pantry on pages 14 & 15) then they can be and the recipes can be available to us even whilst we are leading hectic lives. The photos in the book feature children enjoying the food as much as adults.
Recommended to boost the immune system - healthy Asian recipes that will have your taste buds reeling!
I cannot stress enough how beautiful this book is to look at. The cover is gorgeous and this is a really luxurious coffee table book. It's a good sized quality finished hardback with good photography.
The recipes tend to be Far eastern cooking such as Thai, Chinese and Korean (Yum!)rather than Indian or Balgadeshi. There is a glossary that lists all pantry items you'll need for this and you'll be pleased to know that if you already cook asian food regularly that these is nothing hard to find or daunting in there. It tells you what the ingredients are and what they're used for, as well as suggesting altrnatives if you cant get hold of the specific ingredient - which is handy.
Now for the recipes; You are treated to delectable favourites such as 'Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings' (which are fantastic as a starter or for summer Barbeques), to 'Vietnamese rice Noodles with sticky prawns', and my all time favourite; 'Crying tiger beef fillet with chilli dipping sauce' - a dish so simple it's prepared in minutes but with a massive 'yum' factor! :) There are also some lovely deserts great for dinner parties such as Coconut and lime slice, Banana Batter Cake with coconut caramel sauce, and also a selection of delicious Asian sweets.
The recipies are very simple but delicious with no faff (I like that!. this book gives you the means to turn ordinary ingredients you'd eat as part of your normal diet into something very special.
This is a stunning looking book too and l'd recommend this book as a gift - although I'm sure you might think twice about giving it away!