on January 28, 2011
I often don't know what the heck cook books are telling me to do. I was looking for healthy and affordable recipes that I could actually follow and would have good and interesting flavor, preferably Asian, so I bought this book. My husband is Chinese and his parents are fabulous Chinese cooks. I am not Chinese and I am not a fabulous cook. This recipe book has worked for us and I feel more capable as a cook every time I use it. I've had it for about 10 days and I've made 5 recipes from it. I'm really pretty novice in the kitchen, but Ming Tsai's simple instructions work for me.
What I really like that is unique about this book:
1. It is organized in a useful and intelligent way in chapters based on cooking style rather than meat or dish type. I love that. When I need a quick dish, I look in the wok or high temp section. When I have some time, braise or roast. As I type this, my first EVER braise is cooking away. I'm excited. I've never found a recipe I trusted enough to try braising. I've never BOUGHT short ribs before. The "aromatic short ribs with root vegetables" that is boiling away smells so good. It doesn't smell like my kitchen -- in the past.
2. My favorite chapter so far is the Toss chapter. From this chapter, I've made the sesame chicken cucumber noodle salad, spicy shrimp and avocado salad, and the tofu green goddess salad. These dishes could easily be main courses for many people. I make them as appetizers or lunches for my DH.
3. EVERY recipe has a picture that actually is what you can make. The pictures really help me because, although I don't have the plating gene, with the picture as a guide, I can make these recipes LOOK pretty nice too. It's not like Bon Appetit recipes that I make that NEVER look like the picture. Ming's recipes and pictures actually go together.
I do STRONGLY recommend this cookbook with this one reservation: since it is asian fusion, it does require a few (common) asian spices, sauces, and condiments, so I'm not sure this is a good recipe book for someone who lives in an area that lacks Asian markets or Asian sections in markets. However, if you have access to an asian market, even if going into one is totally foreign to you, his descriptions help tremendously and you'll be able to find what you need.
on November 13, 2010
As a Food Network follower from the early days, I remember Ming Tsai and his soothing, elegant cooking show "East Meets West" from the late '90s. When I saw his familiar smile on the cover of his new book, "Simply Ming, One-Pot Meals", I was intrigued. Upon opening the book I found myself making a dash for the register, salivating over which creation I was going to try first. This book is beautiful and very well thought out. EVERY recipe has a gorgeous photograph to accompany it and the range of recipes is astounding. Delightful beverage pairings accompany each dish. Next up on my list are his "Orange-Ginger Lamb Shanks with Barley" (with a Bordeaux blend, like Chateau Centemerle, Haut Medoc, France) and "Chile Pork Fillets with Garlic Brussels Sprouts" (with a big, buttery California Central Cost Chardonnay like Peter Michael). These one-pot wonders and their pairings are my new entertaining secret!
on April 7, 2012
I've ordered several Asian cookbooks in the past, and been absolutely uninspired to cook with any of them. They all seemed to list either really obscure ingredients they tell little or nothing about, too many ingredients per recipe, or both. And they usually included a lot of steps to do a recipe I had no earthly idea whether I'd even like (because no one bothers to tell you what the ingredients TASTE like, or what they are generally used for!). Ming does list in the front of the book the ingredients his recipes call for--and explains what each one is like, and how to use it--and yes, they are inexpensive ingredients, overall. (A few fancy dishes thrown in in case you want to entertain with ease.) He also goes over cooking techniques in refreshingly simple terms. But what intrigued me was opening to the first recipe to see him describe a Chinese technique for cooking chicken that I've been using for years--having gotten it from an American restauranteur. (And just like the book says--it's delicious!)
Then I looked at the recipes. Oh yeah. Most of them actually use ingredients anyone who has ever done a stir fry will already have on hand--and in combinations I already know taste good, because I use them all the time. But he knows how to amp the volume by adding a few unexpected twists that'll have you drooling. He also describes everything in such simple and non-intimidating lingo that you feel, "Hey--I can DO this!" And pretty easily, too.
I should note that he does have more than Asian recipes--osso bucco, Morrocan, etc.--but most do have an Asian flare. They're also, for the most part, very healthy. I can't wait to try these recipes, and I have no doubt they'll all be good (I'll be updating on that as I make them). Having worked in the past with a Taiwanese chef (sadly, didn't pay attention to the recipes being too focused on slurping them down), I DO at least recall that some truly amazing dishes are really made very simply. And this cookbook HAS everything down very simply. Each recipe seems to have maybe eight ingredients and three to four steps to make the dish--SHORT steps, best of all! These one pot meals really are something special for such an easy method of cooking. (They include some lovely salad recipes too, so don't let the one pot thing put you off--there's a good variety here.)
So if, like I was, you're looking for a cookbook that will inspire you to cook and not intimidate you out of the whole process, I can recommend this one, right out of the gate. WAY beyond what I hoped for. P.S. A few recipes the book includes: Kung Pao chicken, oxtail & shiitakes with quinoa, curry beef with potatoes & onions, beef, shiitake and broccoli stir-fry, pork kimchee with noodles (OMG! Can't wait to try that one!), scallop and bacon fettucine, lamb chops with eggplant & lemongrass tzatziki, asian spaghetti, asian sloppy joes, soba noodle carbonara (wow!), thai basil shrimp risotto, lemongrass scampi with papardelle, mushroom chicken fricassee with edamame, ginger-orange duck 'cassoulet', jerk chicken with mango, morrocan spiced lamb with bell pepper couscous--and LOTS more. Pretty close to a hundred, I'd guess, and I didn't see one that took up more than one page for both ingredients and directions to the recipe. You can't lose with this book. Ming Tsai kicks butt!
on November 29, 2010
This book is awesome! I've made the moroccan lamb dish twice already, both to rave reviews. We had a vegetarian over for Thanksgiving so I made the crispy tofu w/ miso butter and she loved it so much she left with my ponzu sauce! There are loads of easy to follow recipes and the photography is amazing. I've already bought 2 more as gifts and so should you.
on December 13, 2010
I really like the ease of the recipes in this book. Each one fits on one page and has a picture. The instructions are clear, easy to follow, and best of all, quick to make. I am especially happy that my children really like the meals that I have made so far from this book, even some with ingredients that they have never eaten before.
on August 18, 2011
I have to start by saying that I never write reviews on anything unless the product is REALLY horrible or REALLY amazing. I had to write a review on Simply Ming because it is definitely one of the BEST cookbooks I've ever found. I've made several recipes from this book and they've all turned out great! I've never found any other cookbook where every recipe I tried was not only delicious but also turned out to look just like the picture in the book. The food I made tastes like it came from a restaurant! The majority of ingredients were available at a typical grocery store (although there are some that you have to go to an Asian market to find), the recipes were easy to follow, and the pictures are very helpful. If you love Asian cooking, you will definitely not be disappointed. I highly recommend this book!
Ming Tsai has the philosophy that more would cook at home if receipes were simpler. These are not the simple throw it in a pot comfort food, but do require some preparation - mainly chopping, but seem to be pretty easy to cook and relatively quick. There is an Asian tendency to many of them, but just enough to give a different taste and a diverse way of meals for you. They are divided into 7 methods: braise, wok, sauté, roast, high temperature, soup and toss (salads). They are main meals, even the soups and salads. Most are meat, poultry, seafood based, although there are a few vegetarian recipes.
Each recipe has a picture and is done on one page, easy to read and for many tips are included, such as how to dice the potatoes. For most a wine suggestion is made.
These are not the normal foods you might have cooked for your family, but they would still most likely be enjoyed and give a variety. There are some ingredients used such as pork belly and ox tail.
So... to try diverse main meal cookbook, this would give ideas to use.
on April 20, 2014
We became fans of Ming while watching him on PBS. He makes really tasty dishes that are healthy, not because they replace unhealthy items with the low-fat version, but because the real recipe starts out healthy and pure. His recipes are great because they appeal to people with high-brow tastes while being easy to make (as opposed to say, some fussy French recipe). His recipes have a wide appeal, I would serve these to my pickiest relatives as well as the down to earth ones.
The book is beautifully put together. The recipes all have full-page photographs of the meal. What I love is that he recommends a wine/beer to go with every dish. You'll be able to achieve the right pairing the first time you make the meal, without having to taste it first. I am no chef, but I do love to cook; I find myself having all of the tools necessary to make the meal, the only issue I have is finding the ingredients. Granted, I live in a suburban area of a boring city, but even if I moved back to a major city, I wouldn't know off the top of my head where to get oxtail. The harder to find ingredients don't make me like this book less, because I feel it rounds out my recipe collection, but I was surprised that the meals in this book contained more hard-to-find ingredients than his show does. That is the only reason for four stars. I will likely look for others of his cook books to try to find more of his recipes that contain ingredients I am familiar with cooking. In addition to the drink pairing tips, Ming provides lengthy descriptions of the meals, so that you can imagine what you are about to make and know how to aim for that end. He gives tips at the bottom of the page about, for example, handling various meats or cutting a certain vegetable.
Examples of some of the recipes are:
- Star anise-ginger "braised" whole chicken
- Red-roast duck legs with sweet potatoes and daikon
- Oxtail and shiitakes with quinoa
- Aromatic short ribs with root vegetables
- Curry beef with potatoes and onions
- Orange-ginger lamb shanks with barley
- Garlic with osso buco with celeriac
- Pork belly with jalapeno-pineapple salsa
- Chicken and tri-bell pepper chow mein
- Kung pao chicken with house rice
- Beef shiitake and broccoli stir-fry
- "French Dip" orange beef
- Green peppercorn beef with asparagus and rotini
- Pork kimchee with noodles
- Gingered pork with leeks
- Scallop and bacon fettuccine
- Clams with pork and jicama
- Black bean scallops and zucchini
- Black pepper sake mussels with granny smith apples
- Mirin clams and leeks
- Sweet and sour mango pork
- Beef and onion "sukiyaki"
on December 8, 2015
Is Ming looking for a New Home? Pick-me, Pick-me!
His cookbooks are something that is a MUST. They are so special & so "to the point". I mean, do you know the feeling of Too Many ingredients in 1 recipe? But Every Recipe of Mings is Wonderful!! I love this Hard Cover Book.
on June 1, 2015
Ming doesn't give actual times for making these recipes. That's because they take forever. The preparation of the ingredients alone can often take over an hour if not hours. Also, the directions for some recipes have you do ridiculous steps in order to make the recipe conform to the "one-pot" only concept (e.g., cook a grain and set it aside for many HOURS before the rest of the recipe is ready to mix together, just to use the grain pot for preparing the meat). On a positive note, some of the flavor profiles are yummy (e.g., bouillabaisse). However, many of the dishes simply taste like one-note casseroles with a slightly "Asian" flavor.