Every so often a cookbook comes along that truly fills a need in the food world. The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, and More, by Laura B. Russell is one such book.
As soon as this book was released I knew it was special. And I shouted “halleluhah!” As you probably know, Asian food is challenging for those of use who are gluten-free. Conventional soy sauce contains wheat, the other sauces are a minefield of ingredients and may or may not contain gluten, and dumplings and pot stickers look delicious but are off-limits. To be honest, our family stopped eating out at Asian restaurants (other than sushi) years ago—it’s too hard and too depressing. But it doesn’t matter anymore—Laura’s book allows us to make all of our favorites at home. D’Ahub is thrilled because his favorite food of all time is Chinese.
The thing I love about Laura’s book is that it is an excellent cookbook–the fact that is is gluten-free is the cherry on top. Laura knows her stuff (she is the former associate editor of Food and Wine magazine). And, she has done an amazing amount of research and has shared the results with us. Even if you are an experienced cook, Asian food can be a bit daunting to prepare. I can usually breeze my way through just about any recipe, but I find that I start feeling a bit stressed out when it comes to Asian recipes. The ingredients are often unfamiliar, the sauces are varied and overwhelming, and the processes are somewhat confusing. Laura takes all of this information, explains it thoroughly, breaks it down into easy steps, and as an added bonus, lists where the gluten might be hiding in the traditional version of each dish. In fact, her 2 ½ page chart of ingredients, their gluten status, alternatives, and gluten-free brands is worth the price of the book alone. As are the lists of common ingredients, equipment, and gadgets.
On top of all of this, the recipes are wonderful and appropriately detailed–and the photos are beautiful and helpful. She includes techniques for making even complicated recipes easy to do. I could kiss her for demystifying dumplings and for making them gluten-free. And we can now have mu shu pancakes again! So far, every one that I have tried has been perfect and delicious. The book is helpful divided up into chapters devoted to each type of recipe—Sauces and Stocks, Dumplings and Savory Pancakes, Noodles, Rice, Meat, etc. And she includes recipes for vegetarian dishes, as well as dishes containing seafood, poultry, and meat. There is something for everyone in this book.
At the end of the book, she includes a fun chapter entitled, Sips and Sweets. It contains recipes for Asian-inspired drinks and desserts. One of my favorite recipes is the “Blueberry Drinking Vinegar,” which we would call a “shrub” in the United States. It might sound weird, but it’s basically blueberry/sugar/vinegar solution mixed with club soda. It’s the most delicious and refreshing drink you never heard of. All of us at Canning Across America discovered shrubs this summer and couldn’t get enough of them.
Last spring, I was finally able to meet Laura in person and she graciously gave me a copy of her book to share with my readers!
In order to be entered into a drawing to win a copy of this book, leave a comment on this about what you miss about Asian food now that you’re gluten-free. Be sure to comment by 11:59 pm, Pacific Time, on Wednesday, October 3rd in order to be considered for the giveaway. I will do a random drawing of comments and pick the winner with the Random Number Generator. Also, please note that the drawing is only open to readers in the United States (my limited pocketbook won’t allow for international postage).
The winner is Dawn! I have sent her an email. Thank you so much for participating!
PS: As you know, I rarely do reviews or giveaways. But, I have decided to do a few more than normal in the upcoming months to call your attention to books and items that I find helpful or fun or that I like.