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Asian Vegetables: From Long Beans to Lemongrass, A Simple Guide to Asian Produce Plus 50 Delicious, Easy Recipes Paperback – June, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A guide to shopping for Asian vegetables (which often appear under many different names), this book also helps browsers figure out what to do with them once they're sitting on the counter. Deseran, food editor of the house organ Williams-Sonoma Taste, organizes her recipes according to the types of produce they require: leafy greens (Steamed Halibut with Sweet Miso Wrapped in Cabbage), roots (Crisp Taro Pancakes with Hoisin-Lime Dipping Sauce), squashes (Stir-Fried Luffa Squash with Diced Shrimp and Garlic), beans and other miscellaneous vegetables (Sukhi Singh's Bharta), and herbs and aromatics (Grilled Lemongrass-Tamarind Pork Chops with Chayote Slaw). For each vegetable, she covers alternate names, varieties, uses and storage for example, the many varieties of bok choy, or Chinese white cabbage, are described, along with such recipes as Braised Short Ribs with Hearts of Bok Choy, and Bok Choy, Water Chestnut, and Bacon Chow Mein. Deseran's tone is light (long beans look "like a vegetable out of a Dr. Seuss book"), and she can be charming even in defeat, as when admitting her failure to interest her husband in bitter melon. Richard Jung's color photographs are clear and appetizing, and make identifying the vegetables that much easier. Deseran's book is a handy, practical companion to a shopping trip to Chinatown, and her recipes are terrific. (June 1)Forecast: This attractive paperback will do particularly well in urban areas where a diverse selection of vegetables is more common. Although it may be less comprehensive than the recent The Asian Grocery Store Demystified, it has more recipes and a better layout.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Sara Deseran is the food editor of 7x7 magazine in San Francisco. She has contributed to such publications as Saveur and The San Francisco Chronicle as well as serving as food editor for Taste magazine.

Richard Jung is a San Francisco-based food and travel photographer whose previous books include Balsamico.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811827593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811827591
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,547,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sara Deseran, a longtime food writer and San Francisco magazine's editor-at-large, is the co-founder of Tacolicious along with her husband Joe Hargrave. Sara's magazine writing has been featured in multiple Best Food Writing anthologies and she's contributed to publications such as Food & Wine, Sunset, and Food Arts. The author of three cookbooks, and the keeper of the Tacolicious blog (tacolicious.com), she lives in San Francisco with Joe and their children. Joe and Sara's most recent restaurant is a Mission District-based Chinese dumpling and noodle joint called Chino (chinosf.com).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a good guide to the produce you'll find in an Asian market, and it gives you a decent idea of what you can do with that bitter melon or mustard cabbage after you've brought it home. It's a good book -- but I can't work up my enthusiasm for it.

For one thing: even though the photography is attractive, it's not terribly useful. Presumably to both save money and to give a sense of size-and-scale, most of the vegetable photos have several items in the same picture (Chinese broccoli next to choy sum next to mustard cabbage), with little circles (TOO-little circles) indicating the item highlighted in the text. The veggie photos are also smaller than the recipe photos; personally, I'd rather a good hard look at a healthy bunch of greens than a full-page picture of Asian gumbo with mustard cabbage and chinese sausage (however appealing that recipe might be).

The information given is also... well, not quite minimal, but far from exhaustive. While the entry for Lotus root in Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini is two or three pages (plus recipes), there's really only 3 paragraphs devoted to it here. It's good information, mind you, just not that much of it.

But note that I do give the book 4 stars. If you're completely new to Asian cooking, then this inexpensive book may be helpful (and a fatter book would be overwhelming).
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Format: Paperback
This book would've ordinarily been a very good book, however, with a few of the same kinds of books available at the same time, I believe that you should shop around before purchasing this one. I have looked at several with the same theme and have found that "Asian Greens" is more concise and lists 3x more vegetables than this book and offers 30 more recipes than this book. Yes the pictures are very beautiful but so are the ones in "Asian Greens". For an informative guide, I would have to go with "Asian Greens" -- unfortunately, I picked up this one first and have since bought "Asian Greens" to help me pick Asian vegetables at the markets.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`Asian Vegetables' by first time author, Sara Deseran is a lightweight entry into the world of books about Asian cooking. While there may not be as many heavyweight classics as there are in English for Italian, French, or Mediterranean cuisines, there are important classics against which one's efforts must be measured. The heavyweight in the area of guides to Asian ingredients is `Bruce Cost's Asian Ingredients', updated in 2000.

For starters, for roughly the same list price in paperback, Cost's classic has twice as many pages, covers all ingredients, not just vegetables, and presents vegetables and all other products in a greater depth than Ms. Deseran's book. For starters, Deseran does not include the Latin scientific names for her vegetables, which is doubly annoying as she herself says, most of the vegetables have different names, even in different parts of China, let alone different names in Japan and Thailand. So, the only way to be sure we are talking about the same thing is to give the one name that is guaranteed to be the same across all books.

Ms. Deseran has one opportunity to gain a march on Cost's book by providing color photographs of almost all of the plants she discusses, but this feature is, to my mind, done poorly. In an attempt to compare and contrast the appearance of related vegetables, the photographs are all `family pictures'. Thus, for example, one picture of four oriental members of the cabbage family is so small that I am very hard pressed to see the differences between the four vegetables in the photograph, and I am hard pressed to see the difference between choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage) and the Mediterranean veggie, broccoli Rabe (rapini). This brings up another weakness with the book.
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Format: Paperback
Next time I go to my local farmer's market I will take this book with me to share with the other shoppers who stand puzzled in front of the Asian vegetable vendor's table. In addition to a complete guide to Asian vegetables with great pictures, this book is full of recipes that are clearly explained and good to eat. The author's style, something one doesn't always notice in a cookbook, is personal and fun to read.
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