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August 2010 Cookbook of the Month: THE COMPLETE ASIAN COOKBOOK

Wow, it could not have been a closer vote, but the winner is THE COMPLETE ASIAN COOKBOOK, by Charmaine Solomon, with recipes and techniques from many different countries.

We'll use this space to talk about the book generally until the threads go up at the beginning of the month. From what I understand, there is not a huge difference between the original edition and further updates.

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  1. I looked for this book on varying web sites (ABE, Amazon, B&N, etc.) and what I saw was a huge variation in price for the book as well as a dizzying array of editions. I went to the eatyourbooks.com web site to see which one they had indexed, and that seems to be the one edition that I was not able to locate! Maybe I'll see if my library has one...

    3 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      I have this edition:

      http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Asian-...

      It's the second revised edition dated 2002, the trade paperback edition published by Tuttle in 2005.

      But I must say, those prices on Amazon are shocking. I bought my copy within the past year and paid $12.45 including shipping for a looks-like-new used copy on Alibris. The book must have gone out of print recently.

      1. re: JoanN

        Yes, given the prices I have found, I absolutely will not purchase this book.

        1. re: roxlet

          I just checked the Tuttle Web site and they have a notice posted that the book will be out of print until October 10, 2010. I'm sure that once the book is back in print those prices will come down again pretty quickly. Doesn't help you for August, but it should be fairly easy to find in most library systems.

          http://www.tuttlepublishing.com/shopp...

    2. I have this edition. Revised edition May 1992. It was a gift from a friend who bought it at a yard sale for $1.00. Lucky

      http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Asian-...

      At Amazon there are several used copies for under 20.00 and more under 25.00

      10 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        I will look in the library, but since I will be at the beach for the second half of the month, I will likely not participate...

        1. re: roxlet

          I, too, will be away much of August. But if our experience with Dunlop is any indication, people will be cooking from this book and posting to the COTM threads for many months to come.

          1. re: JoanN

            I know, August is going to be crazy for me, too. But I hope to get at least a couple of recipes in.

            roxlet, I hope your library has a copy, or you can score a reasonably-priced used copy. When CAC was nominated for LAST MONTH I started tracking the prices on Amazon and Alibris. It seems there are periods of time where a few cheap ones are available, then get gobbled up eaving only the crazy-priced ones. Then more cheap ones come available, and those get gobbled up, and so on. So, just keep your eye on it. I think there are opportunities to snag an affordable one.

            In the meantime, if there are recipes people want to try, I'm sure people will be happy to paraphrase.

            ~TDQ

        2. re: Gio

          Probably the same sellers, but there are 5 used copies on alibris for $20 or under, including one "good" one for $4.

          I've already gone on EYB and done a recipe search on CAC for recipes calling for zukes, cukes, corn and green beans (all coming in my CSA this week and, likely, beyond) and saved them. (I saved them to a "menu" called CAC rather than as "do laters". I wanted them all in one place for immediate access. My "do laters" tend to be "do much laters.")

          I did a search on tomatoes and got 70 hits or something, so, I'll have to circle back to that later. I don't think I'm getting tomatoes this week anyway.

          I also want to do searches for tofu and tempeh, so, I'll see how that goes!

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Taking a page from your book, TDQ, and searching EYB for ingredients on hand. I stocked up heavily for "Cradle of Flavor," got called out of town on an emergency, and never got back to it the way I had hoped. So I've got daun salam, daun pandan, candlenuts, belacan, fresh (frozen) galangal, kecap manise . . . etc., etc., etc. (And you were wondering why I voted for this book?!?)

            But I have a question. I see a lot of Indonesian recipes that call for Laos powder, which is just dried galangal. It's often listed as optional. But since I've got galangal, does anyone have any experience substituting one for the other? I'm guessing I could just use a Chinese ginger grater to get some of the juice into the dish to add that additional flavor element.

            1. re: JoanN

              I'm wondering about the galangal too. In my Introduction to the Revised Edition, it says to use a tablespoon of chopped galangal in brine for a teaspoon of dried laos powder. How much fresh? Also, do I double the amount of fresh curry leaves for dried? TIA.

              1. re: JoanN

                I think the powdered stuff is called for because the fresh/preserved wasn't available outside the origin countries when the book was first published. Laos powder has very little taste, definitely go with the other forms.

                1. re: buttertart

                  That's just what I suspected. Guess I'll just experiment with the fresh to see if I can even discern it in the dishes the powder is called for.

            2. re: Gio

              The EYB edition indexed is a UK edition published in 1993 by Grub Street. I'm getting the 1992 US Tuttle edition from the library today so I will create a US ingredients version as well. If anyone comes across significantly different recipes in their edition (it's hard to know how many revisions there have been without manually going through every edition) please let me know the ISBN of your edition.

              In my local library system there were 9 available copies of the 1992 and 3 of the 1976 edition so hopefully everyone will find a copy at the library if they don't own it.

              1. re: JaneEYB

                You hve a good library! My library has NO editions, which is strange because their collection is usually pretty good.

                I have no idea which edition I have. I think the 1992 edition, but I suppose I should check.

                ~TDQ

            3. Here are some online recipes that I've found:

              Chicken Curry with Cashews
              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

              Sze Chuen jar Gai (Fried Chicken, Szechwan Style
              )http://www.mike-sheryl.com/hobbies/co...

              Kai Yang (Garlic Chicken
              )Krung Kaeng Phed (Red Curry Paste)
              http://mazirian.blogspot.com/2008/04/...

              Garam Masala
              http://thebarefootkitchenwitch.typepa...

              Mutton Kari (Lamb Curry
              )http://www.barefootkitchenwitch.com/t...

              Also Googlebooks has quite a bit of the book viewable in it's 'preview'. I believe it's the entire India & Pakistan chapter as well as some excerpts from Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Singapore.

              http://books.google.com/books?id=Mdfa...

              5 Replies
                1. re: soypower

                  These look interesting, but definitely recipes I might try once it cools off. Thanks for posting the links!

                  1. re: soypower

                    That chicken curry recipe is terrific with veggies..zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes...anything you can think of.

                    1. re: soypower

                      I made Shiu Ng Heung Gai (Oven-Roasted Spiced Chicken) this weekend for family. I did it as a roast chicken instead of cut-up (marinated in peanut oil, soy, garlic, ginger, Chinese rice wine, Penzey's 5-spice powder).

                      Easy, nice balance of flavors, and a big hit. Even the picky kids went back for seconds.

                      Recipe:
                      http://www.barefootkitchenwitch.com/t...

                      1. re: soypower

                        I found this site which has recipes from Charmaine Solomon's cookbook:
                        http://asiasociety.org/style-living/f...

                        (they are organized alphabetically and according to category - appetizer, dessert etc.)

                      2. Thanks for the tallying, Caitlin. I could see it was close, and I ordered both CAC and Ottollenghi Cookbook. Maybe the second will also become an item again soon.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Bada Bing

                          You're going to Love the Ottolanghi book. We cooked so many recipes that month and several many times over.

                          1. re: Bada Bing

                            Don't forget, there's a ton of great reports to piggyback onto from when Ottolenghi was COTM: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/641730

                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              Thanks! The Ottolenghi book does look amazing. I don't have CAC in hand yet.

                          2. A few more:

                            Bindae Duk (Korean Mung bean pancake)
                            http://www.cooksnotebook.com/recipe.p...

                            Taazi Khumben Alu Mattar Kari
                            (Curried Mushrooms, Potatoes and Peas
                            )http://tenthingsfarm.blogspot.com/201...

                            Tom Kha Gai
                            http://squirrelbread.wordpress.com/20...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: soypower

                              Yum! I love those Korean mung bean pancakes. I made my first batch years ago from the Madhur Jaffrey Eastern Vegetarian Cooking (or something like that - a great book).

                              Yikes, I thought that one of the recipes translated to "squirrel bread" for a moment. Duh!

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                I thought the same thing, but was a little disappointed when I didn't see a baked good w/ a bushy tail. :o)

                                1. re: oakjoan

                                  I thought the same thing! Yikes is the word, alrighty.

                              2. Here's a recipe for Everest Chicken from the Indian food Chapter. http://chubbyhubby.net/blog/?p=221

                                1. My library system has two options. One edition is from 1976, the other from 1992. Which would you recommend I request?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    I suspect there's not a big difference between the two, but I'd order the newer one just in case there were typos or other errors that were corrected in later editions and printings.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      I think that's probably right. I got the later edition from the library yesterday, and while I've done no more than take a quick glance, in the introduction to the revised edition, she talks about the big difference being the availability of ingredients (so, for example, one needn't make one's own coconut milk), and discusses some recommendations.

                                    2. re: smtucker

                                      For what it's worth, mine is the 1993 edition, apparently reprinted in 1993.

                                      The list price then was $39.95

                                      ~TDQ

                                    3. Oh no! I have this book but it is sailing on the high seas right now in a cargo shipment as I have recently undertaken an international move. I will have to try the library. I have a very old copy that I bought used many years ago. I love this book, and it is one of the first cookbooks I owned and first sources from which I learned about the Asian cuisines I love to eat. I MUST participate in this COTM review, it would be a lot of fun.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: luckyfatima

                                        Happy Happy here luckyfatima. So glad you'll be joining us. We'll help you any way we can.

                                          1. re: roxlet

                                            Khalaas, we have left. I am in Texas right now.

                                          2. re: luckyfatima

                                            I managed to get a copy from the local public library. I am so happy. I noticed that some of the pictures are different than from my ancient copy. I can't wait to try some recipes!

                                          3. That is a great book. I've had my copy for almost 30 years now. Her Encyclopedia of Asian Food is well worth a look if you can find one cheap.

                                            1. I love this book! I have a 1992 edition, which I must have bought in 1996 based on a recommendation from a friend. I mostly use it for the indian recipes but recently tried a few of the Korean ones.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                Awesome! I hope you, and OnkleWillie who posted above you, join in this month. It's a definite "the more the merrier" kind of project.

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Thanks! This will be my first time in a COTM thread. I'm afraid I will sound like a broken record with this book. I can't think of a recipe that I've tried that I didn't like....I will have to think harder.

                                                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                    I join TDQ in welcoming you! I spent the better part of today planning my first 2 weeks worth of menus. Originally I thought I'd dedicate one week to one country beginning with the Phillipines but soon realized I needed more vegetables so went in search of recipes from other countries which influenced Phillipine cuisine.. This book is going to be a wonderful introduction to food I've never cooked.

                                                2. re: gimlis1mum

                                                  We get some Korean recipes? BONUS!

                                                  1. Hurray! M found my copy which I thought had been buried in the book boxes exiled to the basement when we moved (he shelved the books and has a photographic memory for things like that - I had surveyed the shelves and just could not see it anywhere, hence lay low on the voting since I didn't know if I could put my money where my mouth was if it won). I'm in!

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      Congratulations on finding it! I got a copy from the library a couple of days ago (2002 second revised edition) and I must say it looks gorgeous. Brownie points for every single picture being identified and the glorious introductions to each chapter. And more brownie points for very specific quantities for such things as herbs and spices. No guesswork there, as seems to be the case with the current COTMs.

                                                      I've got my eyes on the Phillipine chapter...Adobo here I come.

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          I once worked with a girl whose mother used to make lumpia Shanghai by the jillions for parties - each one no bigger than my little finger and delicious.

                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                            I had a friend whose mom who made them every time I came over to her house. I never knew if she was making them for me, or if they just always had them, the same way they always had rice.

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              Not always, just for special in the case of my colleague's mom.

                                                    2. Darn it - I missed the vote! Due to a week in Italy with no internet connection at all (it's like the Dark Ages, wi-fi speaking). I would have gone with Ottolenghi, for the record, but I'm not unhappy with CAC.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        That would have resulted in a tie and thrown us into in complete chaos (although, I'm sure Caitlin would have corralled us all in some brilliant way). :).

                                                        Welcome back!

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                            Oh poor thing. Italy for a week. You need a week to recuperate before yiou plunge headlong into Asia. Taste buds be damned.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              I know - it was terrible. I managed to smuggle back some buffalo mozzarella, smoked provolone, pancetta, sopressata and salted anchovies, together with two bottles of good oil and some limoncello. That will help with the withdrawal symptoms.

                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                It's not even 9 am here, and after reading about your goods (esp about that buffalo mozzarella and meats), I'm now STARVING. Welcome back.

                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                  The buffalo mozzarella you get in Campania is still warm when you buy it. Amazing stuff. I was a bit worried because I had to put it in my suitcase because of all the liquid, but it was worth the risk!

                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          welcome back and looking forward to hearing how it went on ITALY board!

                                                        2. This book has been my Asian cooking "bible" for upwards of 25 years - love it. It is well worth buying when it comes back into print (which it will as there have been innumerable reprints)