The Asian Vegan Kitchen: Authentic and Appetizing Dishes from a Continent of Rich Flavors
Hema Parekh. Kodansha International (JPN), $19.95 (191pp) ISBN 978-4-7700-3069-6
Because tofu and other vegan mainstays are part of their larders, and since they tend to be dairy-free by design, Asian cuisines lend themselves naturally to vegan cooking, and this handy cookbook does a beautiful job compiling attractive, tasty and uncomplicated vegan recipes from India to China and beyond. Take Japan's Simmered Mixed Vegetables, a deceptively straightforward preparation made complex with a sauce of soy, sake and dashi, a kelp-based stock that's the Japanese equivalent of chicken broth; exotic vegetables, including taro and lotus root, come alive in the salty-sweet braising liquid. Thailand's Sweet Corn Cakes are another example of simple-on-the-outside, intricate-on-the-inside vegan cookery, an addictive spin on traditional corn fritters spiced with ginger, garlic and coriander, and served alongside chili sauce and cucumber relish. Unfortunately, the cookbook is a bit confusing; the recipes are separated by country rather than, say, main ingredient, and the fine, full-color photographs of the dishes are all crammed in the middle of the book. Though cooks may spend extra time searching for ways to use up surplus zucchini, it's an appealing browse full of tasty diversions.
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008