Watching Asian grandmothers cook is a lesson in learning how the pros do it best. They don’t require recipes or measuring spoons – only the knowledge tucked in their heads from years of experience. Dishes are complete when they look good, smell good and taste good.
The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens (Sasquatch Books; October 2009) is the ultimate cookbook for those who wish to cook authentic Asian food. Author Patricia Tanumihardja compiled 130 recipes in this cookbook influenced by her own experiences growing up in Singapore to parents hailing from Indonesia. She wanted to record traditional recipes that had only been passed down through word of mouth or by example through grandmothers.
She revealed, “Food shapes us as a society and in my case, food together with the values my parents instilled in me shaped who I am. Indirectly through food I learned customs and traditions. All grandmothers are the keepers of culture and the culinary flame for their children and especially their grandchildren.”
Patricia interviewed, cooked with and connected with grandmothers, mothers, and aunties from China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Korea, India, Thailand and more to compile the recipes. There are no modified versions with shortcuts; so while some recipes are quick and easy, others require more involvement and ingredients. The reward is not only in the completed dish, but also in the cooking journey itself.
Unique aspects of the cookbook include profiles highlighting some of the Asian grandmothers who contributed their recipes. These stories provide depth to the reader to understand the tradition and culture behind these culinary delights. Full color, high-quality photos allow readers to “taste” the dishes with their eyes. The cookbook also contains a glossary that explains the ingredients found in the Asian pantry. Other helpful sections of the cookbook include tips for menu planning and an explanation of Asian cooking techniques and equipment.
Recipe flavors meld together soy, ginger, hot chilies, tart vinegars and more. The cookbook includes favorites such as Chinese Garlic Fried Rice, Filipino Chicken Adobo, Japanese comfort dish Oyako Donburi, Burmese Pork Curry and all others Asian children remember growing up with.
The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens should be a culinary staple in any kitchen that embraces traditional Asian cooking. It’s also a great gift idea for the culinary fan at home.
Purchase by contacting the author at email@example.com, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Powell's Books or IndieBound
About Patricia Tanumihardja
Patricia Tanumihardja lives in Seattle by way of Singapore with her toddler son and extended family while her husband is deployed to Afghanistan. She is a food writer who has contributed to Saveur, Sunset, Seattle and Seattle Metropolitan magazines. Follow Patricia via her blog The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, on Twitter and on Facebook
Disclosure: Author was provided a copy of the cookbook to assess. All opinions expressed are solely those of the author.