Asian cuisine can seem so ubiquitous. Everyone has their favorite restaurant on speed-dial, and already knows what they want to order: everything, with a side of egg rolls, please. And yet, who among us dares to actually home cook these family favorites? It can be a messy affair. Soggy fare because the pan wasn’t hot enough, or just traversing the international store for ingredients can be a scary prospect. Are these real Chinese dishes, or just Americanized recipes? Is fish sauce even necessary?! Luckily, Peter Meehan is here to answer almost none of your questions with his book Lucky Peach presents 101 easy Asian recipes.
Lucky Peach is an artsy magazine and website that explore food and lifestyle through food. Meehan helped create the magazine and is currently in charge of the production. This book stemmed from the annoyance of cookbooks produced wherein there is no way for a regular home cook to recreate the presented recipes. “Why not make a cookbook full of simple, flavorful recipes that may or may not be authentic?” someone must have asked Meehan. And this book is the result.
Whether or not the recipes themselves are authentic, the flavors definitely are. Meehan leads you through a pictorial expression of equipment and ingredients necessary for cooking, from the absolute necessary to the champion level Chinese pantry. And though the recipes presented were made with all ingredients expressed, Meehan does list adequate and easier-to-procure substitutes.
The recipes themselves are generally exactly as listed: rather easy to make, and probably just as technically inauthentic as mentioned on the back of the cookbook. But the ingredients lend themselves to the Asian flavors. The honey-coated Lacquered Roast Chicken is reminiscent of virtually all Chinese-restaurant chicken dishes (sesame chicken, honey chicken, lemon chicken) and incredibly easy to make.
Does this tickle your flavor palate? Check out Simple Asian Meals : irresistibly satisfying and healthy dishes for the busy cook, by Nina Simonds for easy Asian cuisine. Alternatively, if you are determined to keep to Chinese restaurant meals, try The Chinese takeout cookbook : quick and easy dishes to prepare at home, for the home cook. For more Lucky Peach publications, look to The Wurst of Lucky Peach : a treasury of encased meat by Chris Ying for talk on sausages and more. And happy eating!