Monday June 20, 2011
Ramsay's Asian recipes
GORDON RAMSAY'S GREAT ESCAPE SOUTHEAST ASIA:
100 OF MY FAVOURITE SOUTHEAST ASIAN RECIPES
By Gordon Ramsey
My first impression when I received this book was, “Oh great! Gordon Ramsay. Yay.”
Then I saw the second part of the title, 100 of My Favourite Southeast Asian Recipes. Dang! What does a mat salleh know about cooking Asian recipes.
However, Gordon Ramsay is a celebrated chef, owner of several Michelin star restaurants around the globe as well as a TV host and presenter of several award-winning cooking programmes in Britain and the US.
Who knows, he may have some secrets up his sleeves. And with that in mind, I buried my nose in the book and never looked back.
The book is a hardcover edition, and offers recipes from four diverse Southeast Asian countries – Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia.
There are 100 recipes in total, some recipes are traditional while others are Ramsay's own interpretation of the local dish. The book is divided into 10 impressive chapters of curries and stir-fries to snacks/appetisers and desserts/drinks.
Ramsay decided to venture on his “Great Escape” to Southeast Asia because he “finds that the best way to understand the food of another nation is to experience it in the country itself”.
YUMMY: The Claypot Chicken Rice which I tried.
And true to that belief of his, Ramsay experienced the cultures and traditions in the four countries he visited – he learned the influence of religion in the food in Thailand, ate exotic tarantulas and duck egg foetus in Cambodia, trekked through caves in Borneo to search for ingredients, and learned the art of nose-to-tail cooking in Vietnam.
The book features stunning photographs of not only the food but also the way of life of the people in the four countries. A feast for the eyes, indeed!
Preceding each recipe is a short story or anecdote of the dish, how the recipe came about and Ramsay's experience cooking it.
What I also like about this book is that Ramsay offers alternatives to his readers from the western world as some Asian ingredients are hard to source in their home countries.
For example, Ramsay suggests phyllo pastry sheets as an alternative to beancurd skin (which is used for loh bak) while macadamia nuts can replace candlenuts as they have similar texture.
There is also a “basics” chapter in the book which Ramsay provides some foundation recipes such as chicken stock, chilli paste and crispy shallots which are used extensively in the other recipes.
Some Malaysian recipes featured in the book include Curry Puffs, Chicken Satay, Curry Laksa, Char Koay Teow, Kapitan Curry, Ikan Bakar and Nasi Lemak, just to name a few.
I could not decide on which recipe to try as I wanted to find one that I am comfortable cooking and am familiar with the taste.
Kapitan Curry is delicious but I have to go spice hunting, so that's a no. Then I decided on Nyonya Fried Chicken but that is a little unhealthy so I finally settled for Claypot Chicken Rice.
I have most of the ingredients at home, plus it's a great opportunity for me to try my newly acquired claypot. Excellent!
The recipe is easy to follow with clear instructions. I measured every ingredient as precisely as possible and ended up with a good pot of chicken rice, with flavours similar to what we get at the numerous hawker stalls in the country.
If you are a fan of Gordon Ramsay, I would recommend adding this book to your collection. Its stunning visuals will definitely inspire you to cook.
Nevertheless, do keep in mind that these are Ramsay's recipes, not your grandmother's.
Kuali and MPH are giving away five copies of Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape Southeast Asia: 100 of My Favourite Southeast Asian Recipes. Click here for details.