A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
CHINESE barbecue spare ribs, or paigu, are pictured dark and toffee-like opposite the simple three-step instructions for making them. Chinese barbecue pork is also here in Tom Kime’s AsianBites:AFeastof FlavoursfromTurkeytoIndiatoJapan (DK, $39.95).
However, the main feature of this book, other than its informative recipes and accessible size, is its melange of cuisines: Singaporean murtabak (spicy lamb-stuffed pancakes) next to Korean goenmande (pork and cabbage dumplings), over the page Japanese iri goma tempura (sesame tempura), and a few pages on Sichuan chicken dumplings and Chinese steamed barbecue pork buns.
The recipes are organised by qualities rather than origins (hot and steamy; fresh and aromatic) and interspersed with coloured images of dishes, spices, ingredients and landscape, rice paddies and a sampan laden with greens.
Some of these dishes are restaurant regulars, while others are intriguingly, temptingly unfamiliar. There are notes on key products and brief, atmosphere-setting introductions in this satisfying book, which is much deeper than its deceptively simple exterior suggests.
Kime has perfected his art under chefs such as David Thompson (at Darley Street Thai in Sydney) and Britain’s Rick Stein.
TheCompleteBookofModernAsian (ACP Books, $49.95) comes from the test kitchens of The AustralianWomen’sWeekly , is of encyclopedic proportions (at 490-odd pages) and has that institution’s solid tone, with pictures and descriptions of the basic Asian ingredients and recipes from China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan. With up to two recipes to a spread, faced with beautifully photographed dishes (one for each), what the book lacks in design excitement it more than makes up for in a sense of reliability and even inspiration. Pore over these photographs and you imagine eating the dishes, a short step away from trying them out. There are favourites such as sang choy bow (that fragrant mince in its iceberg lettuce cups), laksas and phos, and less-known dishes such as poached pork with chilli stone fruits. Separate sections cover soups, stir fries, curries, casseroles, barbecues, chutneys and raitas, salads, ‘‘ morsels’’, desserts and more. Judith Elen