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For me, I would rather be eating food than cooking it. I would also rather be watching a cookery programme than trying out the recipes myself. However, it doesn't mean I don't try to be a little adventurous and follow some great recipes I have in cook books, it just means they perhaps aren't made with as much love and attention as I should be giving them.
I have always enjoyed Rick Stein's programmes, me and my partner find it very relaxing to watch him travelling and cooking, and it's always great to see Chalky by his side, although sadly no longer with him. After Rick did the tour of Asia I thought it would be good to have a go at some of the recipes from his book so I bought this book, 'Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey'. It costs £17.50 through Amazon although might be cheaper if there was an offer on in Waterstones.
The book is a very vibrant orange colour and has a nice picture of Rick on the front. There are 320 pages in the book with some beautiful pictures of the recipes interspersed throughout. The book has 7 chapters in it and each one covers a different country/region and the recipes that are from that area. The chapters are; Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Bali, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. There is a written introduction to each chapter about the culture of food within that particular area.
I have tried several of the recipes from the book and I must say they have actually turned out ok! There are a lot of fish recipes and I really like fish so that's worked out well. The instructions are well written and clear to understand. I miss having nutritional information against each recipe as a lot of books have that in now but I can estimate! My favourite recipe is 'Chef Wan's prawn and rice noodle salad' which sounds complicated to do but I do my own simplified version of it!
The only drawback of the book is the amount of ingredients needed for each recipe. Once you have bought a few things it's ok as you can reuse them once they're in your cupboard but it does make it more complicated and expensive the more ingredients you need to add per recipe. You might find you can skip a couple of ingredients though without noticing the difference!
A nice book, especially for someone who is passionate about cooking and learning about recipes from the Far East.
I love travelling, I love food (especially spicy) and I love cooking! Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey series from the BBC was a brilliant travel and cookery show documenting Ricks travels through the exotic locales and cuisines of the east, Id heartily recommend getting the series on DVD to go along with this great book.
All the recipes from his travels and more are included in this substantial tome. The book looks and feels great with great photography of the dishes, its well designed and makes an interesting read even when your not planning a meal.
I think the idea for the series and recipe is to try and get the most authentic tastes of the far east. This for the most part probably isn't for the begginer cook, who may be overwhelmed by the large range of sometimes very unfamiliar ingredients and tastes. Depending on where you live you might also struggle to find some of the ingredients in high street stores and it might be worth buying them on-line, in bulk if they will keep as alot of the ingredients are used in most recipes.
These recipes really are delicious and exciting meals well worth the hassle and will definitely make memorable dishes for dinner parties!
I love cooking, and trying lots of different types of food, seafood being a favourite. It's unsurprising then that Rick Stein is one of my favourite chefs. After bringing us stories and recipes from the UK coast, France and the Mediterranean, Rick's latest adventure was to the far east.
Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey, the TV series was aired on the BBC last year and I was hooked so bought the accompanying book to try these new recipes out for myself.
The book boasts 150 recipes, and though I'll admit I've not tried them all (yet) but I'll think I've tried enough now to qualify me to write a review on it!
The book is split into seven chapters, each with recipes from a different part of the far east. These are as follows - Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Bali, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Each chapter contains recipes inspired by Rick's travels through each place, accompanied by not only mouth watering pictures of the food but also of the area, people and communities. Also, each recipes has a little introduction explaining the story behind it. For those of you who have seen the TV series will know that the show was as much about the places, people and culture of the far east as it was about the food and this book is in interesting read for the anecdotes and beautiful photography as well as the recipes.
So how did I get on with cooking these dishes? Well, with varying degrees of success. I think for someone not in the know, a great deal of practice is needed to get these dishes just right. Not just for the actual cooking of the dishes but for the knowledge of the ingredients, and there are a lot, many I'd not heard of let alone used before.
This book helps with this though. In the back there is an extensive glossary of ingredients, and even a list of stockists. Many of the ingredients I managed to find in the specialist sections of the supermarket however some you will need to search harder for. If you have an Asian supermarket nearby you will be able to get most things there and there are a number of online stockists though these are good for store cupboard ingredients, they won't help you with the fresh stuff. Typically I found I was limited to which recipes I could try out depending on which I had the ingredients for.
Once I'd sourced the things I needed, I read through the recipes I wanted to try a good few times before I started, I always think this is a good thing to do, especially with a type of cuisine I'm not used to cooking. To start with I tried a few of the shorter recipes and my Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk and Stir Fried Prawns with Mango both turned out a treat, however be careful with your chillies. Now I don't mind a bit of heat and like the chilli flavour, but the more I've cooked with this book, the more I've discovered that Rick Stein is an absolute nutcase. I tend to put about a quarter of the chilli he suggest for each recipe and even then the dishes end up with a real firey kick!
I found as I tried more recipes from the book that the amount of words on the page doesn't always relate to how complex the dish is. A lot of the recipes have a huge amount of ingredients, but most of the time you will find these are three quarters spices that just need to be ground into a paste, and once that bit is done, there's little else to it. Either frying with some meat fish or veg or putting them in a pot and letting it bubble away.
I've found also once you have the hang of making these pastes, you can get creative and adapt the recipes a little. The paste is what takes the time in a lot of these recipes and you could make double quantity and keep it in the fridge for making a dish when you have less time.
There are a good collection of dishes in the book, and it's not all seafood. There's recipes in here whether you like beef, pork or chicken too. However, one thing I will say against it is a lack of recipes for side and vegetable dishes. Whilst there are a few, there aren't enough for the amount of main stuff. Ok so I have lovely pork dish, but what would the Cambodians eat with this Rick? I found that whilst I'd made some glorious half dishes I often just had them with boring rice or noodles and the book would benefit from a few more serving suggestions.
Overall, I recommend this book. Once you get over the somewhat intimidating lists of ingredients, the recipes are clearly written and easy to follow. Of course, the more you cook them the easier they become. If you first one you try doesn't work out try again. I've had some simply stunning meals from this book.
The RRP for this book is £25.00 but don't pay that - a lot of retailers will sell it cheaper, so with everything, shop around. I got mine from an ebay seller brand new for £9.50 but even at the time of release a lot of bookshops were selling it at ½ the RRP.