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Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes - Book Review by Sally McKenna

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The history of the cookery book recalls various titles that have come into vogue as wedding present gifts - books that endow the young couple with the skills of the kitchen. The first of these was probably The Joy of Cooking, published in the Thirties, by Irma S Rombauer. Others have been the magnum opii of Mrs Beaton, Anne Willan, Delia Smith and our own Darina Allen.
It is in this stable of textbooks that Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes should belong.

Authentic? Nah - “We are acutely aware that Asia’s size and complexity are so vast that it is a ridiculous idea to reduce its cuisines … down to 101 Recipes. Completeness is an impossibility, and not our goal.”

Easy? Yeah! – “We all work long hours and come home hungry to cold kitchens, or have kids to feed, or want to cook because, when days are chaotic, there is a restorative beauty to the order and purpose of cutting things up and turning them into sustenance. For whatever else you can’t control, you can put dinner on the table.”

So here we have recipes for Soy Sauce Kimchi, a make-ahead salad with kimchi flavors, “not the deeply fermented funk that scars Korean-American children’s memories of opening their lunch boxes in grade school”; Lamburgers - “being American means never apologising for burgerizing something”; Mall Chicken - “to pretend that 90 percent of what people order at Chinese-Asian establishments isn’t some variation on this would be to deny the truth. So in an inclusive act of recognition, here’s our goopy take on this montherless dish”; Omurice - “Most cooks and chefs say that the simplicity or the cleanliness or the precision of Japanese cuisine is the beacon that drew them to it. For me it was learning that the Japanese believe it is 100 percent okay to absolutely house your eggs in ketchup.”

And on it goes, every page witty, and delicious. Packed full of info and shortcuts: “Sticky rice is the only one you don’t cook in a rice cooker.” “At Lucky Peach, we have one intern whose only job is to harvest sesame seeds off the top of a few dozen Big Mac buns every week for the test kitchen. If you don’t have the means to hire a sesame intern, buy yours in small quantities, as nobody, not even Ronald McDonald, likes rancid old seed.”

101 Easy Asian Recipes is compiled by Peter Meehan, the guy, with David Chang, responsible for the Momofuku Cookbook and Lucky Peach Magazine. If you yearn to cook Massaman Curry, Cold Soba Noodles, Thai Herb Fried Rice, Kung Pao Shrimp, Vegetable Dumplings, Scallion Pancakes, Miso Claypot Chicken (No Claypot), then buy one copy for yourself, and at least one copy to give away as a gift.

This is a classic cookbook.

Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach is published by Potter

Instagram your recipes from the book using the hashtag #101ezazn

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