Cookbook reviews: Asian specialties and food truck favorites

.TITLE: Simply Ming In Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy by Ming Tsai with Arthur Boehm (Kyle Books, 2013, $35)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: This cookbook may be the beginning of the future of cookbooks. Every recipe includes a QR code that when used with your smartphone, links to a video and a free interactive shopping list. There are 16 free videos, two from each of eight chapters. Others can be purchased from the chef's website. The videos are 10 minutes long. Many of the recipes are Thai- or Asian-inspired and involve seafood or chicken. There are only a handful that use beef, lamb or pork.

FOR: Adventurous cooks, especially cooks who aren't afraid of using new, unusual or hard-to-find ingredients and those who love technology. This cookbook is for someone comfortable working with uncommon ingredients and a variety of techniques.

RECIPES: Red curry braised pork on rice, turkey scaloppini with black bean onion sauce and spinach, pan-roasted duck breast with mushroom fricassee, sambal shrimp gumbo, teriyaki hanger steak with garlic Yukon mashers and apricot lamb lettuce cups with sambal yogurt.

KNOW THIS: If you don't cook many ethnic foods, other than say Italian or French, some of the ingredients, such as rice sticks, may be new to you. Many ingredients will require a trip to a specialty or ethnic grocery. On the plus side, Tsai offers tips for each recipe.

.TITLE: The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and Easy Dishes to Prepare at Home by Diana Kuan (Ballantine Books, 2013, $30)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Many of us turn to Chinese takeout as a dinner solution for busy nights. But for those who want to master some of their favorite to-go recipes at home, The Chinese Takeout Cookbook offers recipes for favorite dishes. And some that might not be so familiar.

FOR: Those who love Chinese food and takeout and want to make it at home.

RECIPES: Chop suey, garlic shrimp with broccoli, Singapore noodles, spicy garlic eggplant, Mongolian beef, orange chicken, egg drop soup, crab Rangoon, pork and shrimp egg rolls, scallion pancakes, hoisin chicken wings, and mango pudding.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: A wok is helpful in making these recipes but you'll also need a blender, food processor and instant-read oil thermometer to name some other equipment. Don't be intimidated, though, there is an entire section of the book devoted to ingredient and equipment definitions as well as other basics of Chinese cooking.

.TITLE: Ride or Fry: The Dante Fried Chicken Experience by Dante Gonzales and the DFC Crew (Sterling Epicure, 2013, $19.95)

GENERALLY SPEAKING: Perhaps it was just a matter of time before we starting seeing food tuck celebrities capitalizing on their fame and writing cookbooks. Gonzales has fed lots of A-listers at underground parties and red-carpet events. If this cookbook is any indication, the famous must be more than willing to wreck their diets for some of his food. Ride or Fry has a fun, whimsical, almost-cartoon look too it. It is not a traditional look in any sense. Scattered among the recipes are author memories and photos through the years. There are also many color photos of the dishes.

FOR: This cookbook will appeal to a wide variety of people. There are recipes for vegan, vegetarian, meat dishes and more.

RECIPES: Drunk Spanish rice, collard green roll upz, cranberry almond slaw, vegan black sesame tacos, DFC steak pie, Cajun smoked tea duck, spicy strawberry baby backs, pumpkin patch fish-n-chips, Guinness BBQ brisket, tofu chitterlings, ginger spice cornbread, orange coconilla pie and fresh corn-n-cucumber salad.

>>MODERATE

Lemongrass Chicken Pad Thai

8 ounces rice sticks noodles (see note)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips

inch wide

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil

4 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, minced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, cut into thin rings

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch slices

2 tablespoons fish sauce

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

Place the noodles in a medium bowl and fill with hot water to cover. Soak until pliable but not completely soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and stir-fry until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Return the wok to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat. When the oil is hot, add the lemongrass, onion and jalapeno. Stir-fry until the onion is soft, about 1 minute. Push the mixture to one side of the wok, drizzle in the 1 teaspoon oil and add the eggs. Stir-fry, breaking up the eggs, until the eggs are cooked through, about 30 seconds. When the eggs are set, stir to incorporate onion mixture.

Return the chicken to the pan, add the bell peppers and stir. Add the fish sauce, lemon juice and zest and noodles. Stir and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary and transfer to a serving platter or plates and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Rice stick noodles are rice vermicelli, not to be confused with cellophane noodles. They are usually stocked near the Asian food in most grocery stores rather than with other noodles or pasta.

Source: Simply Ming In Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy by Ming Tsai with Arthur Boehm (Kyle Books, 2013)

>>EASY

Drunk Spanish Rice

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 ½ cups long grain rice

1 small onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ cup tomato sauce

2 cups vegetable stock

½ cup your favorite pale ale

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

½ to 1 cup frozen edamame, thawed

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a 10-inch saute pan set on medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the rice, stirring to coat. Cook on high for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the onion, garlic, cumin and chili powder and saute for 1 minute.

Add the tomato sauce, stock, beer, parsley and edamame, stirring to combine. Increase heat to high and bring the rice to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer rice for 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid before time is up.

Turn off the heat, uncover the saute pan, season with salt and pepper to taste and fluff the rice with a fork. Re-cover the skillet and let sit for up to 25 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Source: Ride or Fry: The Dante Fried Chicken Experience by Dante Gonzales and the DFC Crew (Sterling Epicure, 2013)

>>MODERATE

Garlic Shrimp With Broccoli

For the sauce:

2/3 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon white rice vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

For the stir-fry:

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, divided

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced or grated

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 cups broccoli florets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, stir together chicken stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add shrimp and cook until the outside is pink but the inside is not yet cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.

In same wok, swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Stir-fry garlic, ginger and onions until fragrant and the onions are translucent, about 1 minute. Add broccoli and stir-fry for about another minute, or until the edges of the broccoli begin to crisp. Pour in the sauce, cover with a lid and allow the broccoli to steam for about 3 minutes, until tender-crisp.

Remove lid and add back shrimp. Stir until well coated with sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Source: The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and Easy Dishes to Prepare at Home by Diana Kuan (Ballantine Books, 2013)

Cookbook reviews: Asian specialties and food truck favorites 02/19/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 3:45pm]

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