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Nov 30, 2010 09:00 AM

Oriental Cuisine Cookbooks - Which are the Best?

My son would like some new cookbooks for Christmas, specifically those for Thai, Vietnamese or true Chinese dishes. Could anyone direct me to some good titles? I'm looking for authentic cuisine with clear instructions and readily-available ingredients. Of course they have to be delicious! Thanks in advance for any and all help.

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  1. The Key To Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo is my all time favorite, but out of print, so you may have to go with a like new or gently used copy. iI's a classic, authentic with clear instructions. Fushia Dunlop (Revolutinary Chinese Cooking, recipes from Hunan Province) or Grace Young (Breath of a Wok, Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge) are other great choices, although the Dunlop book is more geographically specific.

    I'll let other posters recommend Thai and Viet books, I'm not very hip to the latest/best.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Thank you bushwickgirl. I will look for these. Do any of them have Dim Sum recipes in them? BTW, my son just told me he is also looking for Japanese cook books.

      1. re: lattelover

        Dumplings, but not Dim Sum per se, that would be a separate catagory, look for cookbooks specifically on that subject.

        This one is great for all sorts of dumplings from China, Vietnam, Japan, Philippines, India and Korea:

        This Dim Sum book, recently published, got quite good reviews:

        1. re: lattelover

          I know it's an ongoing, yet very friendly, debate on this board, but if I were going to buy only one Dunlop book it would be Land of Plenty, not Revolutionary Chinese Cooking.

          It's new, oversized, and perhaps overexpensive, but if Thai food is under consideration one should certainly look at David Thompson's Street Food as well as his earlier book, Thai Food.

      2. Since your son added Japanese cooking to the list of books in which he would be interested, I recommend highly "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art" by Shizuo Tsuji (Kodansha International, 1980).

        This 1980 cookbook is still in print and may be purchased from Amazon for $19.99, plus shipping, unless you make a total purchase of books from Amazon over $25, in which case you can get free shipping. It is still available in book stores, as well.

        At the time I purchased it (circa 1981), I just bought it because it looked like an interesting cookbook. Since that time, I have read reviews of it and, apparently, it is now generally considered to be a landmark book on Japanese cooking for both Japanese and western readers, the Japanese equivalent of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." To further support my belief about its reputation, note that it has an introduction by M.F.K. Fisher, at least my edition does. I don't think that M.F.K. Fisher would have lent her name to a book lightly.

        It has color plates, line drawings, and detailed instructions about how to cook Japanese food. The first part of the book is a compendium of the "why" of Japanese cooking techniques. The second part is recipes. All of this sounds dense and difficult, but it is not. It is very clearly and simply written. Your son will love it!

        1 Reply
        1. re: gfr1111

          I also recommend this book for Japanese cooking. This is by far my favorite and most used Japanese cookbook. The recipes are well written and I have only success with everything I've tried from the book. It is a comprehensive guide to traditional Japanese cooking and it is a big book (which I like). If a big book seems overwhelming, Elizabeth Andoh's Washoku may be more manageable. Harumi Kurihara's books are another option. She focuses on contemporary Japanese cooking.

        2. I like the big picture books published by Hermes House (HH on the spine). I find them for under $10 in the clearance section or Half Price stores. They have a section at the start describing the main ingredients (with pictures). Some volumes have step by step pictures, others just the final product. There are volumes with '500' recipes for the whole region, and others focusing on specific countries. One of my favorites is 'Malaysia & Singapore' (150 recipes, 600 photos).

          1. If you are just going to give ONE cookbook, my vote would be for one of the Fuschia Dunlops. I think her recipes reliably deliver genuine tasting chinese food out of an American kitchen and they are not fussy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jen kalb

              Thanks, everyone for some excellent suggestions. I will get on Amazon and buy a few. He should be delighted.

            2. The original comment has been removed