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Bill's Everyday Asian is a 2011 hardback cookery book from Australian chef Bill Granger. At time of writing it is available on Amazon for £13.20. Granger is a chef that I have been vaguely aware of as the BBC sometimes shows some of his programmes and he is also sometimes on Saturday Kitchen. I received this cookbook as a present.
It has a loose leaf cover which I always advise to remove when cooking from it in order to make it look pristine on the outside when in your bookshelf (no matter what the inside looks like!)The inside pages are quite glossy which is always useful in a cookbook as it means that any splashes can be wiped away relatively easily.
It starts with a brief introduction by Granger about how this book is inspired by growing up in Australian and also on his travels.
There is then a two page spread called 'Bill's Asian pantry' where he describes a lot of the ingredients that it may be useful to have in your cupboard if you are really interested in Asian cookery. It also contains a really good recipe for Sweet chilli sauce.
To give you a flavour for the book, I will give you some sample recipes from each section. Each section has a brief introduction by Grainger as does each recipe. Most of the recipes have accompanying photographs. The book is also peppered with pictures of Granger and his family.
Starters - quick cucumber pickles, nuts three ways (various spiced nuts), sticky sesame chicken wings, curry puffs, Thai fishcakes, Miso and aubergine dip,
Soups - roast chicken and egg noodle soup, chicken curry soup, duck soup, butternut squash, chilli and coconut soup,
Salads - Prawn and mango salad, Vietnamese chicken salad with carrot and mint, beef salad with orange dressing, char-grilled chicken sald with pineapple and basil,
Seafood - fish baked in a bag with lime butter and potatoes, tuna kebabs with crispy coleslaw, turmeric fish,
Poultry - hoisin chicken with a celery salad, Thai green chicken curry, classic stirfried chicken with basil, cashew and chicken curry,
Pork - pork baguettes with meatballs, pork with peppercorns, spiced slow0cooked pork shoulder with spring onion pancakes, Japanese crumbed pork cutlet with cabbage salad,
Lamb and beef - meatballs with tamarind, marinated Korean-style barbecued beef with miso slaw, black bean beef, Massaman lamb curry, beef rending, lamb cutlets with satay sauce.
Noodles and rice - Hainanese chicken rice, simple egg noodle salad with peanut dressing, pad thai, chilli fried rice with broccolini and tofu, Vietnamese rice noodles with sticky prawns. There is also a section on how to cook 'perfect' steamed, brown and cocnut rice.
Vegetables and tofu - Potatoes with soy butter, Stir fried Asian greens, Thai-style stir-fried butternut squash, salt and pepper tofu with lemon soy dipping sauce
Desserts - mango with sticky rice, Chinese custard tarts, passion fruit granita, ginger fudge, mango pudding, coconut and lime slice
I have to say that I had reservations about this book when I first received it. Although I am a keen home cook with a vast cookbook collection, I have not really dabbled in Asian cookery beyond making the odd Indian or Thai curry. However, when I took a closer look at this book I was surprised at how good it was and have cooked several times from it on a variety of occasions.
My favourite and most used sections are the starter and curry ones. The starters have given me a number of ideas for entertaining - I particularly recommend the nuts and curry puffs as something to put out for people to snack on. The curries are also very good - and use herbs and spices that I think most keen home cooks would have at home anyway. The recipes are explained very well and the end results have always been successful and very tasty which is of course one of the most important things with any cookbook. The sweet chilli sauce recipe in the introduction has been a really pleasant surprise to me as I had never even considered making it before.
I would say that mostly the ingredients that are required here are quite easily accessible. Most decent sized supermarkets are well stocked with most of the ingredients that are included here - pak choi, fish sauce, lemongrass - even panko breadcrumbs are not that difficult to get hold of these days. One of its key bonuses for me is that it has given me more idea of the versatility of a lot of Asian ingredients. Quite often I have had a bottle of soy sauce or miso around and not been quite sure how to use them other than stirfrys, but I know have a bit of variation to do with this.
For the most part this is definitely a book about 'fusion' rather than a traditional Asian cookbook - ( the lovely Mandarin crème brulee being a case in point!) so if you are a purist when it comes to Asian cookery you may not have much interest in what is presented here.
It is a very striking looking book, full of very colourful looking food.
Perhaps one criticism I would make is that although, I do not know whether this has been adapted much from the Australian version of this book - I would say that there are a large number of recipes included perhaps cater more towards a warmer weather climate - there is a great deal of raw and cold food which is not something that really appeals to me.
In conclusion, this is a solid, well put together cookbook with a lot going for it. For the most part the recipes are accessible and relatively easy. Whilst more fusion cooking than traditional, I think that most keen home cooks who are looking to dabble in a new cuisine would find something here to encourage them to explore it further.