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Cookbook review: The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook

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There's a reason I go out to eat Asian food: I don't have a wok, the ingredients, or the time.

Not only does Asian cuisine require those three things, but you also need someone watching over your shoulder who knows what to do. That's where The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook by Patricia Tanumihardja comes in handy (available in paperback from Sasquatch Books on Aug. 21). In her book, Tanumihardja offers a straightforward approach to cooking elaborate recipes and outlines the ingredients, process, and preparation needed for each. 

Tanumihardja didn't just want to write any ordinary how-to cookbook. She wanted to go straight to the source of Asian cuisine: the grandmother. She claims, “All grandmothers are the keepers of culture and the culinary flame,” and thus proceeds to seek out grandmothers, mothers, and other "goddesses of the kitchen" to record their unique recipes, often only passed down orally. Each recipe has detailed instructions so that even the novice can take a crack at it. The cookbook also includes profiles of the women behind the recipes, some of whom have fascinating stories to tell.

“The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook” includes a myriad of dishes ranging from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, Filipino, and everything in between. Additionally, the dishes allow for a lot of experimentation – if you don't like a certain ingredient or if a certain sauce is too hard to find, you can easily replace it with other seasonings. If you're worried about hard-to-find ingredients, fret not. You can find most of the items at your local Chinatown or Korea Mart, and even grocery stores like Whole Foods have many of the foreign ingredients you will need. 

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