The Exotic Kitchens of Malaysia

Copeland Marks, Author Donald I. Fine Books $32.95 (306p) ISBN 978-1-55611-526-4
Marks (Indian and Chinese Cooking from the Himalayan Rim; Sephardic Cooking) shows how a variety of ethnic groups-- Malays, Chinese, Indians, Nonya (an interracial mix of Chinese and Malays) and Portuguese--contribute to the cornucopia described as Malaysian cuisine. To do so, he presents more than 175 easy-to-follow recipes that reflect and celebrate the bounty of this tropical nation. For starters, there's Tamarind Fish Soup and Steamed Fish Puree in Banana Leaves, both Malay dishes, and Chicken with Brown Bean Paste and Chicken and Pork Curry, both Nonya specialties. Then, consider Indian favorites such as Fish Curry and Rice and Sour and Hot Fish, or Chinese Stir-Fried Beef with Chap Chop (assorted vegetables). Dishes served at a traditional Malay wedding include Red-Cooked Chicken, prepared with ginger, cinnamon, chilis, tamarinds, and a Wedding Vegetable Pickle made of pineapple, cucumber and chilis. Marks's glossary of exotic and unusual ingredients from assafetida (a seasoning related to the carrot) to wood ears (a black fungus) is indispensable, but so would have been a resource list of where some of these ingredients might be found or obtained through mail order. Unfortunately, the introductory material about the individual groups and their cuisine is so brief that Marks's culinary journey reads more like a drive-through instead of the leisurely excursion through the country. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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