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Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia Hardcover – August 17, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
I was born and raised in West Sumatera, Padang to be exact (this city is mentioned a lot in the book). I got shipped out of Indonesia to the U.S. in my early teenage years. I wasn't interested in food or want to learn to cook then. I took it for granted that I wouldn't miss anything and get used to the American food. It was not until I arrived in the U.S., got homesick, and craved for sambal and rice on a regular basis, that I realized how hard it was to create or get a taste of home. Most Indonesian restaurants here were either Javanese (which is different from spicy West Sumatra's food) or "Americanized". When my mom died, all hopes of learning to cook food I grew up with was gone. Whenever I felt homesick, I'd cook Indonesian food based on recipes found on the web, blogs, and little bits of knowledge that I picked up on my annual visit home. But nothing seemed to taste the way I remembered. That was until I tried recipes from this book. Everything smells and tastes almost exactly as they are supposed to be. The book goes into a lot of details explaining how to handle the ingredients and the step-by-step cooking process, which definitely makes the difference in my cooking. I use this book all the time now, and follow the instructions to the T. The only thing I don't do is adding sugar when cooking main courses. I see a couple of reviews complaining that there aren't many pictures in the book. While that's true, it's not exactly a deal breaker. To get an idea of what the dishes look like, google for images, that should help.
And into the breach steps the intrepid James Oseland, with a masterful introduction to a rich, intensely vibrant cuisine that has yet to find more than a token presence in the United States. With "Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking From the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore," Oseland, the editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine, lays out a vast map of hitherto uncharted culinary territory. The book is not an addition to an existing canon of literature. Rather, for any non-Indonesian chef it will more than suffice as both the first and last word on the subject.
How could an area as vast and populous as the Malay Archipelago escape notice for so long? As one Indonesian acquaintance told Oseland on his first trip to the region more than two decades ago, "We're the best-kept secret in Asia. Too few of us are living abroad to share our cuisine." If you've tasted any food from the region at all, it was most likely cosmopolitan, Chinese-influenced fare from the city-state of Singapore and not the home-style cooking typically found in the far provinces of Indonesia.
"Cradle of Flavor" is more than the sum of its parts.Read more ›
So imagine my surprise when I tried a couple of these recipes and they were actually easy to cook! I'm sure not all the recipes in the book are simple, but even I had success with "Fragrant Fish Stew with Lime and Lemon Basil."
Oseland learned these recipes by working alongside the people he met and befriended in his travels in Indonesia. The are real family cooking, and - especially if you brek them in easy with delicious dishes like Celebration Yellow Rice, your family will love them too! It's also a fun adventure to take the kids to your local Indonesian (or other Asian) market, if you have one. Oseland gives instructions on how to find these ingredients in most areas, and also some suggestions for substitutions for harder to find items.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is yet the best out of several books that have tried to cover all of SE Asian cuisine in one book.Published 1 month ago by Billy Bison
Okay, so I bought this book in 2007. Its taken this long for me to write a review for this gem of a book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Brett Leonard
The first recipe doesnt start until page 119. No photos. However I'm happy with the variety.Published 13 months ago by Joe
We've cooked a few recipes out of this book, and we've found them clear, simple to follow (no complicated procedures), lots of substitution suggestions for obscure ingredients. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is an amazing cookbook. It's a fun read! Some of the recipes take practice. I am a very seasoned cook. Read morePublished 17 months ago by lioness
This I would call the bible of Spice Island / Indonesian cooking. Great recipes and full of ingredient information. A must for anyone interested in this cuisine.Published 20 months ago by Shade
James Oseland has done a wonderful job of compiling a set of representative recipes from a cuisine that is still relatively unknown in the United States. Read morePublished on January 7, 2014 by William L. Farmer
I have only done a couple of recipes so far, but I can see this is going to be a solid and much used addition to my Asian cookbooks.Published on October 28, 2013 by K. L. Gallaher