Author Chat Mingkwan wrote his Asian cookbook, Asian Fusion, after eating his way around Burma, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Chat Mingkwan's recipes are true to the traditional origins of the food, while at the same time making them accessible to Western cooks who are unfamiliar with Asian style cooking.
He makes his recipes easy to follow and understand with meticulously detailed ingredient lists and clear directions. If you follow his recipes carefully, the results will be extremely delicious.
In testing Mingkwan's recipes, I found that it would have been handy to have an Asian market or two nearby, instead of an hour away.
But even if you don't have access to some of the ingredients or equipment, the recipes are solid enough that the 'omit and substitute principal' works quite well with this cookbook.
For instance, with the Pancit Guisado Noodle recipe, I couldn't find any vegetarian stir fry sauce, so I did a little research, and made up my own.
There were no fermented bean curds either, so I just left them out - same with Chinese garlic chives, and red chili peppers. They're too hot for my taste buds anyway.
In spite of all my omitting and subbing, the recipes still tasted fantastic!
I happen to have a wok, and they are widely available, but if you don't, a heavy bottomed sauté pan will also work well. I don't have a mortar and pestle, or the time & energy to make spice pastes as C.M. describes, but a mini-food processor or baby food mill will also do the trick.
Not being all that familiar with Asian cooking, I found that I needed to read through the recipes several times, think hard, and assemble all the ingredients first, which of course we're supposed to do with any recipe, at least in theory.
Now that I've made 2 of the recipes, and studied the cookbook a fair bit, I can see the patterns and techniques of Asian fusion cuisine, underlying and unifying all the recipes, and I know it'll be easier after this, to dive right in like I usually do with cookbooks.
Chat Mingkwan's exceptional cooking and teaching skills have boosted my confidence, and given me the desire to tackle unfamiliar dishes. I'm thrilled to be able to sample foods that I've mostly shied away from except in restaurants.
I've become a miso soup convert for life, and stir fry noodles and vegetables will be a regular part of my diet from now on. I'm eager to try making sushi, too, because I love it and eat it every chance I get. I also want to try some soups, and Asian desserts, such as Coconut-and-Banana Ice Cream (Thailand) or Spiced Coconut Custard (Sri Lanka).
One big reason that I find this cook book so appealing is that the recipes in Asian Fusion aren't haute cuisine. They're dishes that ordinary Asian people make and eat every day, which is my kind of cooking. Unlike in restaurants, I can adapt the ingredients to my own preferences and circumstances.
It's nice to be able to explore Asian cooking without having to buy numerous specialty cookbooks! And also nice that these are vegan recipes, with no animal sourced ingredients to watch out for.
The only quibble I have with Asian Fusion is that many of the recipes call for generous amounts of oil and salt. But that's easily remedied - just omit and substitute!
I highly recommend Chat Mingkwan's delightful Asian cookbook.