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I have mixed feelings about 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach.  At first I was super excited for this cookbook.  It was going to go on my Christmas List**, but instead I got the chance to review it through Blogging for Books.  In general, I’m a fan of Lucky Peach magazine but I’m not totally sure that this book adds enough value to my cooking style.

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The good? The recipes are varied.  Some are traditional, some more Asian American traditional.  And, some of the recipes have the wacky Lucky Peach/David Chang flair like Pesto Ramen or Spicy Mushroom Ragu.

On the to-do list:

Soy Sauce Kimchi
Dollar Dumplings
Com Tam Breakfast (pork sausage with rice and eggs)
Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake)
Scallion pancake
Pad See Ew (Thai noodle dish)
Spicy Mushroom Ragu
Jumuk Bap (rice balls with meat)
Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaves
Miso Claypot Chicken (no claypot)
Egg Custard Tarts

There are a few other recipes I want to try, but the ones listed above are the ones I actually see myself cooking sooner rather than later.

For this review, I picked something easy to try out.  In fact, I pretty much had all the ingredients.  I present:  The Odd Flavor Sauce.

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There’s actually nothing really “odd” about it.  The name hails from its inspiration, a recipe in Irene Kuo’s The Key to Chinese Cooking.  I chose to make it with almond butter and regular black peppercorns but I don’t think either of those ingredients vastly altered the recipe.

In short, it’s an all purpose Asian sauce.  It’s Chinese in influence, but that’s mostly because the ginger-scallion flavors are dominant.  I served it with plain broccoli, and a pork tenderloin that had been simply roasted with salt and pepper.  I wanted to know what the sauce tasted like without too much “outside influence.”

It’s good.  It’s solid.  It’s also nothing I would rave about.  It’s a simple enough recipe to have in my cooking repertoire but it’s nothing I would brag about.  I’ll have to try out a couple more recipes and see if that’s the case with the rest of the book.

The bad?  Honestly, my only negative comment on the book is that I can’t stand the kitschy photographs.  I get that it’s being all cute and 1970s revivalist.  For the most part, I can overlook it.  Ugh, but the picture for the Kimchi Pancake is an orange-tinged pancake against a bright orange background.  It hurts my eyes a bit.  I love kimchi pancakes but this particular image from the book does not whet my appetite.

Do I regret having this book on my shelf?  No.  But between this book and my other recent cookbook, Donburi, Donburi impresses me more.

Reference Links:

http://luckypeach.com/recipes/lucky-peach-odd-flavor-sauce/

http://luckypeach.com/recipes/mushroom-ragu/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/250844/lucky-peach-presents-101-easy-asian-recipes-by-peter-meehan-and-the-editors-of-lucky-peach/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/62092/peter-meehan/

 

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

 

** = Instead, The Food Lab cookbook is on my Christmas List.  Whee!~

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Did you know that David Chang and the Momufuku gang had published a science article on their pork bushi? Yeah, I hadn’t either.

But I found it while researching homemade miso (I’m giving serious consideration to making my own peanut miso).

Here’s the link to the article. It has the outline/recipe, more or less, on how its done.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878450X11000047

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The lecture was split into three parts: Professor David Weitz gave the science opening and explained why, even though oil+water is opaque, Carles Tejedor’s olive oil gelee is clear. (The opacity is due to the mismatch of index of refraction between oil and water. Water has a lower index of refraction than oil. The sugar in the olive oil gelee increases the index of refraction of water almost to that of oil.)

The second part of the lecture was a short food demo by Carles Tejedor in which he plated oil yogurt (made up of 25% extra virgin olive oil, the yogurt was made pretty via spherification) and some olive oil bread (made up of 50% olive oil, I think he said).

The third and longest part of the lecture was David Chang waxing poetic about microbes. (^_^)
It really wasn’t anything that he hasn’t talked about before, so I won’t bother rehashing it. Just enjoy the pictures below.

As for audience goodies, we got to try the olive oil yogurt with olive oil breadcrumbs. We also got about 1/2 tsp of cashew miso, and three vials of mystery liquid. The first vial was cashew tare (the fermented cashew juice that separates out post-centrifuging). The second was olive “soy sauce, which tasted like salty concentrated olive juice. And the last vial was fermented olive juice which was very bitter to due oleuropein, a chemical compound which naturally occurs in olive.

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Subject – Food Microbiology

I don’t think I have much to say about tonight’s lecture. It was more formal than David Chang’s lecture last year, and it was solely about edible bacteria, whether it’s from lacto-fermentation, inoculating fish that has been steamed/smoked/deydrated with koji mold (katsuobushi), dry aged beef, or David Chang’s own invention of pork bushi.

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