Pickles and Tea Adventures in Asian American Cooking

Asian Cookbooks for Holiday Gift-Giving

2017 has been a gangbusters year for Asian cookbooks. 

Not only are we seeing more Asian cookbooks being published, the variety and diversity of cultures, cuisines, and topics represented have increased exponentially.

And my favorite trend? All these Asian cookbooks are authored by people of color writing about the cultures they hail from. Plus, the pages are chock full of stories and memories for everyone to enjoy. 

Right after I published The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, I presented my publisher with a proposal for an Indonesian cookbook. He turned it down. And so did a succession of agents and editors. They were all like, “No one in the U.S. knows Indonesian food, no one will buy it.” That was in 2010.  The same could probably have been said for a single topic noodle cookbook or a collection of recipes from an under-the-radar (at least to Americans) Southeast Asian country called Malaysia.

Well, we’ve come a long way since then. And my list below is a testament to that fact. Please note that this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s just a representation of what’s out there. (Don’t forget my latest cookbook: Farm to Table Asian Secrets–Vegan and Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season 😊)

Please join me in supporting our fellow APA cookbook authors and the lovely Asian cookbooks they have produced.


The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles 
by Andrea Nguyen (Ten Speed Press, February 2017)

The doyen of Vietnamese cooking, Andrea Nguyen, has done it again. This time with an entire cookbook devoted to America’s favorite Vietnamese dish—-pho. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, The Pho Cookbook has a pho recipe with your name on it. To give context, Andrea visits pho’s birthplace and gives a historical rundown before teaching you how to make it at home. Options range from speedy weeknight cheats like Quick Chicken Pho and Pressure Cooker Beef Pho, to classic Hanoi-style Beef Pho requiring 4 to 5 hours of your day. Vegetarians and vegans are not forgotten either. The over 50 versatile recipes include companion dishes, condiments, salads and my favorite, Pan-Fried Pho.


The Malaysian Kitchen Cook book

The Malaysian Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Simple Home Cooking 
by Christina Arokiasamy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 2017)

Christina Arokiasamy brings the warmth and heart of Malaysian cooking into the American kitchen with her personal touch. The curries, noodle bowls, stir-fries, and street foods in this book represent a delicious mashup of Southeast Asian and European influences that is Malaysian cuisine. One of the original fusion cuisines, Malaysian cooking borrows from the traditions of Thailand, India, China, and Portugal resulting in dishes as varied as Salmon Tandoori, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Grilled Lamb with Rosemary Pesto, Beef Rendang and Char Kway Teow Noodles.


Bangkok cookbook

Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand
by Leela Punyaratabandhu (Ten Speed Press, May 2017)

Hot on the heels of her first cookbook, Simple Thai Food, Leela Punyaratabandhu’s Bangkok is an ode to her native Bangkok. Encompassing 120 recipes, this tome captures the culinary spirit of the city through the foods Thai people eat every day and spans heirloom family dishes, restaurant classics and of course, street food. Bear in mind that the very authentic recipes—like Boat Noodles, Salted Fish-Pork Patties, Egg-Wrapped Glass Noodle pad Thai with Shrimp, and Durian Ice Cream—may intimidate the cook with only a casual interest in Thai cuisine.


My Mother’s Philippine Recipes: Filipino Cookbook Recipes from Asian in America 
by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, October 5, 2017)

In this special collection of family recipes, Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino, author of the popular blog Asian In America (AsianInAmericaMag.com), shares her mother’s recipes from her childhood in Tarlac. Friends relished the multi-course meals her mother cooked, using ingredients harvested from their backyard and farms, expertly grown by her father. The 30 selected recipes, each with full-color photographs, are punctuated with lovingly-recounted memories. Some family favorites featured include: Pancit Palabok, Street-style Fish Balls, Carne Asada Kapampangan, Lechon Manok, Beef Kalitiran Pot Roast, Pastillas de Ube; and some new dishes like Salted-Egg Potato Chips and Mango Tempura are also included.


My Rice Bowl: Korean Cooking Outside the Lines 
by Rachel Yang and Jess Thomson (Sasquatch Books, September 2017)

I’ve been a fan of Chef Rachel Yang’s ever since she opened her first restaurant, Joule, in Seattle a decade ago. Her inimitable rendition of Korean comfort food has always been innovative, a reflection of her Korean upbringing mingled with the influences of her adopted city and country. After opening four restaurants, Yang has finally released a cookbook featuring recipes for the popular dishes gracing her menus. The dedicated pickles and kimchi chapters are enough reason to buy the book alone! Home cooks can try their hand at making Lamb and Eggplant Dumplings, Seaweed Noodles with Dungeness Crab and Crème Fraiche, as well as Mrs. Yang’s Spicy Fried Chicken with Peanut Brittle.


Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia

By Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy (Ten Speed Press, March 2017)

Every time we visit San Francisco, my husband insists on eating at Burma Superstar, regardless of how long the line is (and it can get VERY long). Thankfully, the wait is always worth it. For those who can’t get to San Francisco often enough, this Bay Area Institution has released a cookbook featuring a sumptuous collection of recipes ranging from their legendary Tea Leaf Salad, Mohinga (fish noodle soup) to the evergreen favorite, Pork and Pumpkin Stew. Since Burmese cooking is influenced by neighboring India and China, as well as Thailand, you may think the recipes complicated. However, the cookbook’s nearly 90 recipes have been updated and modernized, requiring no specialized equipment nor multiple ingredients.


Reprinted with permission from The PhoCookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen, copyright© 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, animprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography credit –studio/food photos: John Lee© 2017. Vietnam location photography courtesy of Karen Shinto

Reprinted with permission from Bangkok by Leela Punyaratabandhu, copyright © 2017. Photography by David Loftus. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Reprinted with permission from Burma Superstar, copyright © 2017 by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.Photographs copyright © 2017 by John Lee