Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore

James Oseland, Author . Norton $35 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-05477-4

Oseland, who has lived in Singapore for 20 years, hopes to help people who haven't had the benefit of a trip to West Sumatra or Kuala Lumpur to discover those places' scents and tastes. Oseland devotes close to half the book to explaining ingredients, techniques and eating traditions as well as relating anecdotes from 20 years of roaming the islands and picking up the natives' cooking wisdom. Many ingredients will require special trips to ethnic markets, though Oseland allows for some substitution or omission of difficult-to-find items like fresh galangal or daun salam leaves. The first chapter covers sambals, every meal's essential spicy accompaniment, as well as other small dishes like the fiery Sweet-Sour Cucumber and Carrot Pickle with Turmeric; he follows with slightly more familiar street foods and snacks such as satays and gado-gado, then rice and noodles in all their guises, from simple, heavenly steamed rice to the zingy Malaysian Penang-Style Stir-Fried Kuey Teow Noodles. Oseland's instructions are detailed, and he makes a convincing case that with a little time and care, the best of these complex, interrelated cuisines can be enjoyed thousands of miles from their origin. Maps and color photos not seen by PW . (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/10/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
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