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Cook the Books: Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen

I buy a bunch of new cookbooks and cooking magazines. I read them, cook from them and let you know if they are worth your purchase or not. Read on for my review of a newer favorite of mine, The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen. 

I had this cookbook on my Amazon wish list since it showed up in a “You might also like” list. I just always was afraid that cooking Asian cuisine was outside of my reach. I am an Irish – German – British girl, and spicy in my house is black pepper or ginger if you are really wild. There are spices, equipment and eating utensils that are all different from what I am used to. It was outside my comfort zone by a mile. But I miss Chinese takeout. None in 8 years. It took about 5 minutes of paging through the cookbook to decide that I needed to make about half of the recipes in it.

The book just looks like it has a lot going for it. It has stunning photography (don’t page through the book if you are hungry) and a super clean design that is what you want for a cookbook – recipes are easy to scan and read. There is useful information accompanying each recipe such as what to serve the dish with or little tips to help make cooking easier (such as freezing meat for 20 minutes will make it easier to skewer). Ingredients that you need to make sure that you have purchased a gluten-free variety of are highlighted in the ingredients list in red with a bold GF next to it to give you an instant heads up. (Other GF cookbook authors take note, this is a great idea!)

The book is broken up into 11 sections based on the main ingredient. There are chicken dishes, noodle dishes, tofu & veggie dishes, and even drinks. There is even a recipe for home made tamari (I am all for making your own everything, so that is pretty awesome!). Every recipe calls out if you need to figure in the prep for other parts of the dish or if there is a lot of waiting involved. There are also helpful hints with each recipe to help ensure that you cook a successful dish.

The first chapter of this book is expertly written and contains all the information you need to become comfortable with unfamiliar ingredients and shopping in asian markets. Great care was taken in the explanation of the ingredients and what substitutions you can and cannot get away with (like those no calorie noodles, you are informed, will not have the right texture in any of the dishes). There is a table that tells you how likely an ingredient is to have gluten and what the alternatives are and if there are any gluten-free brands available. Immediately following that she offers a guide for where to buy those ingredients (grocery stores, natural foods stores, asian markets) and indicates if you need to be extra vigilant for shopping.

Blondie and I have made the Kung Pao Chicken a couple of times (after the first time I put in less chili flakes than called for because it was still too hot for me even though the author calls it toned down and family friendly). It was fairly easy to make and I couldn’t believe the results. It was flavorful instead of just hot and it was (I thought) the most flavorful Chinese food I have ever eaten.

We made the pot stickers once (and he keeps asking for them again) on the recommendation of someone on twitter and I fell in love. She suggests freezing any you don’t plan to eat before cooking and I say make a double batch on a Saturday (they take a lot of work) for your freezer and you can have them ready any time you need something fast, easy & delicious and way better than takeout.

The last dish I tried was the Chilled Tangy Soba Noodles. I love the slight sweetness from the sugar and the flavor from the rice vinegar. I might throw in some extra veggies next time I make it, but only because I need to eat more of them not because the recipe needs me futzing with it.

Author:Laura Russell
Format: Full color cookbook with matte finish (also available in several ebook formats)
Stars: 5/5*
Buy it or Forget it: Buy it. Especially if you miss chinese takeout.
Must try recipe: Kung Pao Chicken & Gingery Pork Pot Stickers

*Read more about my cookbook review criteria.

NB I received a copy to review in October (yikes!) but lost it in my move (I really hope it turns up when I empty my storage locker). I went and bought another copy so that I could make pot stickers again.

** If you like the recipes that I develop and share, please consider purchasing my gluten-free cookie ebook. It is only $3, and it has my favorite cookie recipes as well as substitution information and tips and tricks. It is pretty awesome.

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