Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes, by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach, (Clarkson, Potter), 272 pages, 100 color photos, release date 27 October, 2015
Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes is a winner thrice over. First there are the recipes: all of them reasonably easy, interesting, and with small touches that make even familiar dishes taste new. Second, there are the photos: spend any time leafing through this book and you’ll find yourself planning all sorts of meals. Third, there’s Paul Meehan’s witty, irreverent commentary, which makes reading the book an absolute delight. Lucky Peach has passage after passage that begs to be read aloud to any friend or relative sitting nearby.
Meehan’s story of the St. Paul Sandwich is typical of the humor and knowledge he brings to Asian cooking:
Chinese immigrants build railroads across the continent. Egg foo yung—which is not quite a Chinese dish but has become this iconically Chinese dish to Americans—travels with them as they settle. Somebody in St. Louis, Missouri, liberates and egg foo yung pancake from the brown sauce hell it was doomed to (EFY traditionally being these little egg pancakes ensconced in cornstarchy brown sauce like saber-tooth tigers in a tar pit) and sticks it in the sort of sandwich setup more often reserved for fried chicken cutlets or sliced ham. The results are inarguably good, and somehow get attributed to someone from St. Paul, Minnesota, where the sandwich is entirely foreign.
This book would make a great holiday gift for anyone who enjoys good food—whether or not they’re experienced cooks. The recipes are clear and easy-to-follow, and Meehan will have cooks laughing throughout their time in the kitchen.
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