Cafe Asia’s top 10 Asian cookbooks

July 25, 2016 10:13 am
Cafe Asia’s top 10 Asian cookbooks

For those of us who love to cook, there’s nothing better than a brand new cookbook. The lure of the front cover, the smell of the pages, the tantalising recipe names and mouthwatering photos… there’s plenty of appeal.

If you’re looking to take your Asian cooking to the next level, here are ten fantastic cookbooks, handpicked by the Cafe Asia kitchen team, to add to your collection. We’ve organised them by country and type of cuisine for ease…

For Indian: An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

Madhur Jaffrey is the queen of Indian cuisine, having published over 40 cookbooks in the last 15 years. First published in 1973, An Invitation to Indian Cooking takes readers on a culinary journey through India’s regional dishes. With a guide to herbs and spices, a glossary of definitions and plenty of recipes for all occasions with handy accompanying tips, it’s a firm favourite amongst the Cafe Asia team – we particularly love Jaffrey’s authentic biryani recipe.

For Chinese: Yan Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook by Yan-kit So

What Chinese cookery expert and food historian Yan-kit So didn’t know about Chinese cookery wasn’t worth knowing. Her 1984 Classic Chinese Cookbook was received with huge critical acclaim, containing visual guides to ingredients and step-by-step techniques to master recipes from Peking and Shanghai, as well as Cantonese and Szechuan dishes. If you fancy making your own spring rolls (rather than buying ours, of course), So’s recipe is foolproof. For us, as the title says, it’s a classic.

For Thai: Thai Food by David Thompson

Published in 2002, Thai Food is one of several Thai cuisine titles from Australian chef and restaurateur David Thompson. His love of Thai food began on holiday in the country where he learned to cook from professional chefs, documenting traditional recipes and techniques as he learned. The result? A truly comprehensive tome about Thai cuisine, which not only includes recipes and menu ideas, but also the history of the country’s food and its role in society. A must-read if you take your Thai food seriously.

For Korean: Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking by Maangchi Kim and Lauren Chattman

Maangchi Kim is a YouTube sensation, whose fans often compare her with Julia Child. We love this book for many reasons, including its easy step-by-step photo recipes, a glossary with photos to explain ingredients, and suggested substitutions for those Korean ingredients that can be tricky to find. Side dishes, pickles, one pots, recipes with just a few ingredients – there’s something to cater for all abilities. We’re quite partial to her authentic bulgogi recipe…

For Japanese: Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji

Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art is widely acknowledged as the bible of Japanese cuisine – and we agree. The 25th anniversary edition was released in 2012 as an encyclopaedia of the country’s food and drink, rather than simply a collection of recipes. It includes a guide to ingredients and utensils, detailed descriptions of preparation and cooking methods, and no fewer than 130 recipes – proving that Japanese food means more than sushi. We love the fact that Tsuji recommends which recipes pair well with others in the book, making catering for dinner parties simple.

For Vietnamese: Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen

We love books that are based on an author’s personal history, and Into the Vietnamese Kitchen is one such title. Nguyen’s family was airlifted from Saigon in 1975, and her mother’s notebook of recipes was one of the few personal possessions that came with them. This book is her own “notebook” that talks the reader through Nguyen’s home country’s foodie traditions. We love the attention to detail, and the fact that readers can learn to make everything from simple dishes to party options for a crowd.

For Southeast Asian: Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

For us, Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet is the perfect blend of travelogue and food title. It follows Alford and Duguid’s journey along the Mekong River, through southern China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. On their travels, they take in the traditional quartet of flavours that make up the book’s name, learning to cook traditional dishes from cooks and market vendors alike. As well as enjoying over 175 recipes, we’re sure you’ll be impressed by the pair’s travel and food photography too.

For vegetarians: Indian Vegetarian Cookery by Jack Santa Maria

Indian food differs vastly from region to region – and as a largely vegetarian country, it’s incredibly easy to find great meat-free dishes when you visit. In Indian Vegetarian Cookery you’ll find just as diverse a range of recipes taken from all over the country. Every ingredient is explained in detail (including information about different varieties of rice), along with plenty of diverse recipes that go beyond the typical vegetarian fare you’ll find in many Indian restaurants. Don’t let the lack of photos put you off: it’s a must-buy for vegetarian fans of Indian cuisine.

For vegans: Asian Vegan Kitchen: Authentic and Appetizing Dishes from a Continent of Rich Flavors by Hema Parekh

Author Hema Parekh teaches vegetarian cookery in Tokyo, and this book focuses on traditionally vegetarian recipes – tweaked to make them vegan if they weren’t already. We love how the book highlights that Asian flavours – from Japanese sushi to Vietnamese spring rolls – can be enjoyed without the need for meat, fish or dairy. If you’re after authentic pan-Asian vegan flavours, we definitely recommend this one!

For coeliacs: The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen by Laura Byrne Russell

For those with coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, enjoying Asian food can be tricky. Noodles, oyster sauce, soy sauce and numerous other commonly used ingredients all contain wheat… so we love how The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen makes it possible to experience the region’s cuisine without health risks. You’ll find out how to identify Asian ingredients that commonly contain gluten so they can be avoided, as well as how to create authentic-tasting sauces, gluten-free dumplings and wraps and more. We love how easy the recipes are to follow too.

Learn more about cooking Asian food on our blog – we’ve covered everything from creating simple Indian dishes to essential Chinese store cupboard ingredients.


Image via Pixabay. Creative Commons CC0.