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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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From Publishers Weekly
Oseland, who has lived in Singapore for 20 years, hopes to help people who haven't had the benefit of a trip to West Sumatra or Kuala Lumpur to discover those places' scents and tastes. Oseland devotes close to half the book to explaining ingredients, techniques and eating traditions as well as relating anecdotes from 20 years of roaming the islands and picking up the natives' cooking wisdom. Many ingredients will require special trips to ethnic markets, though Oseland allows for some substitution or omission of difficult-to-find items like fresh galangal or daun salam leaves. The first chapter covers sambals, every meal's essential spicy accompaniment, as well as other small dishes like the fiery Sweet-Sour Cucumber and Carrot Pickle with Turmeric; he follows with slightly more familiar street foods and snacks such as satays and gado-gado, then rice and noodles in all their guises, from simple, heavenly steamed rice to the zingy Malaysian Penang-Style Stir-Fried Kuey Teow Noodles. Oseland's instructions are detailed, and he makes a convincing case that with a little time and care, the best of these complex, interrelated cuisines can be enjoyed thousands of miles from their origin. Maps and color photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
James Oseland’s writing has appeared in Gourmet, Saveur, and Vogue. He has been traveling to Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia for twenty years. He lives in New York City.
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While these recipes are generally easy to follow it will take some time to get the balance right in many of them. This is home cooking at its best, which means you have to get a feel for it.
Not all recipes are great -- chicken rendang is tough to keep moist. But then there's the nyonya pork and the beef rendang. Absolutely incredible and surprisingly easy. The chapter on vegetables is also a revelation...
It's been said that food is the most apparent uniter of any culture, and that once everything else has been watered down or weaned away completely (think of Greek or Italian immigrants who have come to America), the last cultural identifier that remains is the food. It's so true, and this book absolutely takes you on a cultural and culinary journey. The author's passion for food and for the people of these fascinating countries practically leaps off the pages. The wonder of Indo-Malay cuisine is indeed the best-kept secret in Asia. Any sizeable city in America is likely to be overrun with Chinese and Thai restaurants. Vietnamese food is plentiful, and you can usually find Korean or Japanese food without much difficulty. But try to find an Indonesian restaurant, or a Malaysian restaurant serving up Nyonya chicken. If you do find one at all, it's likely to disappoint if you've ever spent any time in these countries. This book is the cure for what ails you.
Any cookbook will offer a list of ingredients, preparation instructions (in varying degrees of clarity and depth), and occasional notes on the dish itself. This book utterly transcends the basic offering. Virtually every recipe is replete with anecdotes, personal observations, and a truly in-depth guide to making the dish spectactular. I do wish there were more color photos, the few that are included aren't really sufficient, but the quality of the recipes and the fantastic depth of the writing more than makes up for it.
Highly, highly recommended.