In­ter­na­tional (and some celebrity) ap­peal

From Filipino fin­ger food to Chrissy Teigen’s de­li­cious ap­peal, there’s plenty to whet the ap­petite (and the eyes) this month.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste -

Bek­woh Au­thor: Bryan Koh Pub­lisher: Xochip­ili Price: RM139.90

I EAT two break­fasts, and al­most non­stop, when­ever I am in Kota Baru, so I was in­trigued when I came across post­ings about

Bek­woh in a Per­anakan food group on Face­book.

There hasn’t been much doc­u­men­ta­tion of the food of the east coast, and Sin­ga­porean au­thor Bryan Koh gives a com­pelling tour of eat­ing in Ke­lan­tan, Tereng­ganu and Pa­hang.

Koh’s fas­ci­na­tion with the food of the east coast comes through in his food es­says. They are writ­ten with an out­sider’s cu­rios­ity about the lo­cal cui­sine and in­gre­di­ents, but told with a sure grasp of food re­search and knowl­edge, all of it sprin­kled with his gen­tle hu­mour.

Through the es­says that in­tro­duce each chap­ter, Koh re­lates the char­ac­ter­is­tics and in­flu­ences in east coast food. He has named each chap­ter us­ing lo­cal food de­scrip­tions, so the chap­ter on break­fast is called “Ber­lauk”, on Per­anakan food “Kam­pung Cina” and on kuih muih (cakes) “Two Princesses In A Room”. The nar­ra­tions of his eat­ing ad­ven­tures are evoca­tive but he has also paid at­ten­tion to de­tails such as giv­ing the lo­cal names of in­gre­di­ents and food, and also in­cluded the generic terms that are more fa­mil­iar to read­ers gen­er­ally.

The most im­por­tant doc­u­men­ta­tion in this book are the recipes. He has in­cluded home food such as lem­peng niyor (co­conut pan­cakes) and fa­mil­iar dishes like lak­sam, but there are also many recipes that are not so well-known, such as genang bawang, or deep­fried stuffed onions. There is also an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of kuih­muih recipes, some with Koh’s tweaks.

Some of the recipes call for in­gre­di­ents that are hard to get out­side the east coast, or are sim­ply un­known to me, such as fin­ger­roots (krachai) and sare (seaweed).

But even if you never at­tempt the recipes, this is a book that’s a plea­sure to read and a cul­tural ex­plo­ration via food.

It might just in­spire you to go on an eat­ing trip along the east coast. – Ivy Soon

Crav­ings: Hun­gry For More Au­thor: Chrissy Teigen Pub­lisher: Michael Joseph Price: RM98.95

YOU ei­ther de­spise Amer­i­can cook­book au­thor-model-TV host-Mrs John Leg­end-Trump-hat­ing Chrissy Teigen or you love all of her. There se­ri­ously is no in-be­tween.

I for one en­joy her snarky, sharp sense of hu­mour, and it’s cer­tainly on show through­out her sec­ond cook­book. And then there are the mouth-wa­ter­ing recipes that en­cour­age me to en­ter the kitchen.

Even if you are a new­bie, Teigen’s recipes are easy to fol­low, with nary a com­pli­cated list of in­gre­di­ents any­where or te­dious prep or cook­ing meth­ods to get in the way.

Some of the recipes are fa­mil­iar, es­pe­cially the ones in the “Thai Mom” cat­e­gory ded­i­cated to dishes pre­pared by her In­sta­gram sen­sa­tion mum, Vi­lailuck Teigen, but you just know that Teigen has in­jected her own style into them.

There are recipes for the com­mon pork larb, tom yum noo­dles, and crab fried rice, all of which I am sure you can eas­ily find on the In­ter­net – but I am ex­cited to try the Teigens’ take on th­ese pop­u­lar Thai dishes. How does Leg­end like his tom yum, I won­der?

There are many fun “West­ern” recipes to make as well, such as Steak Di­ane – Teigen says she is try­ing to make “Di­ane” into some­thing cool that does not re­mind one of one’s frumpy aunt – Spicy Jammy Drum­mies (chicken drum­sticks) and Peanut But­ter Choco­late Chip Blondies.

The book is a fun read, as Teigen walks read­ers through her thought process be­hind each dish. Ev­ery recipe has a story to tell, and they are mostly heart­warm­ing with a good dose of that Teigen hu­mour.

With Crav­ings: Hun­gry For More,

Teigen proves that she is no one­hit-won­der cook­book au­thor – her first, Crav­ings, was pub­lished in 2016 and was a hit too.

And if you have any feed­back just head to her In­sta­gram ac­count (@chris­syteigen) to air your griev­ances. Just be pre­pared for Teigen’s come­back – fans will know, she doesn’t al­ways play nice! – Sharmila Nair

Pu­lu­tan! Filipino Bar Bites, Ap­pe­tiz­ers And Street Eats

Au­thor: Marvin Ga­pul­tos Pub­lisher: Tuttle Pub­lish­ing Price: RM67 ALTHOUGH South-East Asian cui­sine has been grow­ing in promi­nence and pop­u­lar­ity all over the world, Filipino cui­sine hasn’t re­ally been given a seat at this ta­ble.

Well-trav­elled palates can ap­pre­ci­ates the sub­tleties of Thai tom yum, Malaysian laksa and Viet­namese pho, but few are even aware of the ex­is­tence of Filipino sta­ples like pork sisig or adobo.

With Pu­lu­tan!, au­thor Marvin Ga­pul­tos aims to change this and el­e­vate aware­ness about Filipino fin­ger foods, oth­er­wise known as pu­lu­tan. This is Ga­pul­tos’ sopho­more book, fol­low­ing the suc­cess of his first ef­fort, The Adobo Road

Cook­book (2013). Ga­pul­tos is also a sea­soned food blog­ger who started Los An­ge­les’s first Filipino food truck, The Manila Ma­chine, so he’s very well-versed in the cui­sine.

In this cook­book, he of­fers recipes for fin­ger foods like chick­en­fried eg­g­plant, pineap­ple pigs in a blan­ket, grilled chicken livers, and vine­gar-poached sar­dines. The recipes look in­cred­i­bly in­ter­est­ing and be­cause Ga­pul­tos pref­aces each one with en­ter­tain­ing sto­ries and anec­dotes, there is added con­text to dishes that many peo­ple will no doubt be un­fa­mil­iar with.

There is also the fact that Ga­pul­tos – a Cer­ti­fied Ci­cerone (some­one who has pro­fes­sional beer ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise) – has pep­pered the book with beer pair­ing sug­ges­tions, a win for peo­ple look­ing to match food and drinks.

On the down­side, the pho­tog­ra­phy (which Ga­pul­tos did him­self) is a bit hit-and-miss – some pic­tures are ap­peal­ing, some are de­cid­edly less so.

Ul­ti­mately, though, this book will find fans in those look­ing for an easy-to-read, in­tro­duc­tory guide to Filipino food. – Abi­rami Durai

Sim­ple Au­thor: Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi with Tara Wigley & Esme Howarth Pub­lisher: Ebury Press Price: RM162.90

THE recipes I tried from Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi’s other books have not only turned out well, but they have also been in­ter­est­ing and de­li­cious.

The Is­raeli-British chef, restau­rant/cafe owner and writer has gar­nered a cult fol­low­ing in re­cent years with his in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Mid­dle Eastern flavours and veg­etable-cen­tred food. But it’s not al­ways easy to cook from his books be­cause his recipes re­quire long lists of in­gre­di­ents, some of which are un­com­mon.

Ot­tolenghi ac­knowl­edges this dif­fi­culty, and thus Sim­ple was de­vised to help read­ers make meals with “min­i­mum has­sle and max­i­mum joy”, while still be­ing dis­tinctly “Ot­tolenghi”.

“Sim­ple” is, how­ever, rel­a­tive, and the recipes have been placed into th­ese cat­e­gories: “Short On Time”, “10 In­gre­di­ents Or Less”, “Make Ahead”, “Pantry”, “Lazy”, and “Eas­ier Than You Think” (yes, the cat­e­gories make up the word “sim­ple”).

The recipes are cer­tainly more ac­ces­si­ble in Sim­ple, with shorter in­gre­di­ent lists and eas­ier tech­niques, as well as beau­ti­ful pho­tos to in­spire you. Com­pared to his other books, this one is geared for home cook­ing and din­ner par­ties.

There are, of course, a lot of Mid­dle Eastern in­flu­ences in the recipes, but also quite a num­ber of Asian flavours. Desserts are also do-able, with recipes such as mint and pis­ta­chio choco­late fridge cake that re­quires no bak­ing.

Some of the recipes I have ear­marked are cauliflower tabouleh; baked rice with con­fit toma­toes and gar­lic; and chicken with miso, gin­ger and lime.

You might still need to make a trip to a Mid­dle Eastern gro­cery or spe­cial­ist sec­tion of a su­per­mar­ket to stock up on Ot­tolenghi’s pantry sta­ples such as sumac and harissa, but it’s worth mak­ing the ef­fort to try out the recipes in Sim­ple.

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