Thai and Vietnamese food are some of my favourite types of food. There is something instantly pleasing about the freshness, the vibrancy, the spice and the colour of these foods from Asia. I’ve not been to Thailand (yet) but I have been to Vietnam and remember quite clearly some of the delicious food I ate there.
This is a book which I bought as a result of that Vietnamese trip with the aim of improving and expanding my ‘Asian’ repertoire from Thai green curry and Pad Thai. Before ever delving into the recipes I knew this would be a book I would want on my shelves. Just look at the cover, its stunning isn’t it? The photographs inside are just as gorgeous and double pages given to glorious images of freshly cooked Asian food. The colour and variety of ingredients lend themselves to food photography.
Asian cooking can sometimes feel a little daunting because of the length of ingredients required. The recipes in this book are all manageable and include ingredients that are easy to find in any big supermarket, and if you are fortunate enough to have asian supermarkets near to you, you will have no trouble at all. I have got into the habit of keeping ginger, chillies and coriander in the freezer so that I always have the basic ingredients when ever a bit of Thai/ Vietnamese cooking takes my fancy. Each of the recipes here are ones I tried for the first time, and without exception I would try them all again.
This is incredibly easy and incredibly satisfying. It’s the kind of dish that can be thrown together in an instant and produces delicious results. Chicken marinated in chilli sauce, ginger, garlic, five spice powder, lemon juice and hoisin sauce and baked in the over for 30 mins. Whats not to like. I served it with a salad of green beans and spring onions which made it feel a little healthier and added a splash of fresh green.
Butternut Squash with a Sweet Sesame Glaze
Butternut squash is a vegetable I adore. My standard ways of cooking it are roasting it with a few spices or roasting it with butter before making it into soup. This squash was cooked in some water, sugar and soy sauce until the liquid evaporated and a sticky sweet glaze remained. It was delicious sprinkled with sesame seeds for crunch and would make a perfect accompaniment to grilled meat with maybe some french beans on the side. I ate it with steamed sugar snap peas which worked well.
Cashew and Chicken Curry
No Asian cook book would be complete without a curry or two and this is one of my favourites. It’s a gentle creamy flavour enhanced by ground roasted cashew nuts is mellow rather than fiery. It went down very well with some shop bought nann bread and tasted even better a day later when the flavours had developed further and melded together.
I made this largely because I had a mango that was on the edge of becoming a bit over ripe, but also because I happen to love the flavour of mango. Warning: It does necessitate the use of gelatine, which always sounds complicated (it isn’t). Miraculously when I decided on a whim to make this I actually had a packet in the cupboard, and it was even in date. The combination of mango, single cream. yogurt, lime juice and sugar was very simple to make and produced a velvety, mellow yellow desert that felt just a little decadent without being overly rich.
This is one of the prettiest and tastiest cook books on my shelf right now and I have lots of other recipes bookmarked for future tastings!
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