This book is a fantastic guide to the cookery of the countries visited by Stein on his TV show of the same name; namely Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh. My friends more in the know than I am tell me that the recipes described here are common, day-to-day dishes representative of their countries.
While Stein tries to suggest substitutes for many items, we found that a trip to a specialist asian supermarket was a must to find some of the ingredients, particularly the fresh turmeric Rick seems to fall in love with during the series. It's also worth the trip to buy items like fish, soy and sweet chilli sauce in bulk rather than the tiny supermarket bottles, as they turn up in almost all of the recipes.
The recipes are generally fairly simple, but do require quite a bit of ingredient preparation beforehand--a warning if you're averse to chopping! You can make and store in advance many of the most time consuming parts of the dishes--particularly all the pastes. even so, however, there seem to be few very quick suppers. We've averaged an hour a dish, I estimate.
We've found the results worth the time spent on them, and it's great fun to have a few friends round for dinner and divide up the chopping, speeding things up significantly :)
A final plus for the book is the healthy nature of many of the recipes, particularly the Cambodian and Vietnamese dishes. If you find typical low-fat stuff bland, these should be right up your street.
Overall, the book lived up to my expectations from the series--with a little bit of effort, it's possible to make some pretty authentic dishes, with all the spice and sharpness you'd expect from the Far East!
One person found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?