A book review by Franz Scheurer
Carol Selva Rajah, chef, consultant, writer, teacher and bon-vivant commands respect in everything she does; so when she released ‘The essential guide to buying and using Authentic Asian Ingredients’ it is not surprising to see that this book, too, deserves respect.
This is a comprehensive guide of Asian ingredients, listing them alphabetically inside categories with concise descriptions, illustrations and showing scientific names, English and appropriate Asian language names.
When I first got my hands on a copy I just returned from a gluttony tour of Indonesia and one vegetable that particularly intrigued me in Jakarta had a texture, shape and taste totally unfamiliar to me. The locals called it ‘kecipir’ but no one knew an English name. It took me barely 3 minutes perusing the Vegetables, Legumes and Fungi category to find a picture that matched, and upon checking the name in Indonesian, to confirm that ‘Winged Beans’ were it.
Now if you already know all there is to know about Winged Beans, Rice Paddy Herbs, Drumstick Leaves, Ridged Gourds, Salak, Duki or Langsat or all the other weird and wonderful items faithfully catalogued and described, then you probably don’t need this book. If however, like me, you think you know a lot about Asian ingredients, then you’ll find out that “Auntie Carol” knows a lot more.
This is an invaluable reference and I am surprised that I don’t see one in every professional kitchen I visit and in everyone’s home. It’s not expensive, it’s easy to obtain; so what’s YOUR excuse? Go out and buy one, now!
The essential guide to buying and using authentic Asian ingredients
Carol Selva Rajah
Published by New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty. Ltd.
ISBN 1 86436 745 8