World Cuisine

noodleseveryday.jpgNoodles Every Day features quick and easy recipes. For these recipes you will need the basics of an Asian pantry which are explained in detail in an early chapter. All are available at an Asian grocery store or online. However a few recipes have some more exotic ingredients like garland chrysanthemum leaves or silver pin noodles. All the recipes are titled descriptively so Pad Thai becomes Stir-Fried Rice Sticks with Tamarind Sauce, Dried Shrimp, Tofu, Sprouts, and Eggs.

Over the years I've had very good luck with author Corinne Trang's recipes and this book is no exception. Her Somen Noodles with Shrimp Curry and Peas uses less than 10 ingredients and is the perfect kind of one pot meal you'll likely be able to make with peas and shrimp in your freezer and without a trip to the store. The book is divided into sections based on the type of noodle you are using--egg, rice, buckwheat, etc. and it also has a section on buns, dumplings and spring rolls.

Street food of MexicoHugo Ortega's Street Food of Mexico rocks! And if you are planning a holiday cocktail party and want a break from pigs in blankets and crab cakes, this book is all you need!

One cannot be in Houston without swooning over a Hugo Ortega restaurant. Delicious evenings can be spent at the foodie delight, Backstreet Café, or his original - Hugo’s, but my favorite is Caracol – the best Coastal Mexican restaurant in the world. (See One for the Table review in archives)

Mexican street food, in this book, is not just the simple taco that comes to mind. Ortega traveled the breadth of Mexico re-discovering the local foods of his homeland, giving us delicious and unexpected recipes. Just scanning the pages of Street Food of MEXICO is a sensual treat.

I have never seen a book with more surprises: Mitchelada con camarones (Spicy Beer Cocktail with Shrimp), Salbutes con pato en recado negro (Thick Tortillas Topped with Duck in a Black Seasoning Paste), Guajolotas (Tamal Stuffed Sandwiches from Mexico City}, Ensalada de jumiles con nopales (fresh Crawfish and Cactus Salad), Camotes Poblanos (Sweet Potato Candied Rolls)… it goes on of course!

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where chefs eatWhen my lovely daughter, Hillary was a Malibu pre-teen, I gave her what I thought was a total slam-dunk-she-is-going-to adore-it-Christmas present: A beanbag sofa in the shape of a large sneaker bought from the Neiman Marcus catalog. Fortunately, Neiman’s has always been gracious about returns, but my daughter still hesitates before she opens a gift from me. Bill and I on the other hand bask in the unexpected delights of her choices… though, how does one carry a 1000 page book (in small print yet) in a back pocket?

Please understand, this is not just your ordinary gift book; this is a bible - a primer from the Real Experts, and it is Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs' Favorite Restaurants (2015).

The cover is a visually busy almanac-styled side show tent chock full of promises: “Where to Eat, When to Go, What to Order, From more than 600 of the best chefs, From Fast Food to Haute Cuisine, A Truly Global Guide, Expert Local Knowledge. Forget the restaurant guides compiled by a panel of mysterious experts, this international guide is by the real insiders, over 600 of the world’s leading chefs. From Late-Night Hangouts to … (but we will never know as there is a big faux sticker saying … Brand New) If that is not enough to stuff this tome of tomes in one’s back pocket, try cruising the contents. Oh Boy, this beats the original Preppy Handbook for feeling in the know!

I mean, really, I know all the cool spots in Auckland, Shanghai, London, Berlin, Estonia, Latvia and The Russian Federation, Cyprus, Istanbul, West Hollywood and Tanzania – just to name a few. So, if you want to name drop where Daniel Boulud, David Chang or René Redzepi or Yotam Ottolenghi hang, then this book is for you… and you… and you. (OMG It even has maps!)

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takashisnoodles-1.jpgFirst up is Takashi's Noodles. They say if you get just one great recipe from a cookbook, it is worth the price. In that case, let me tell you about Spicy Eggplant Ja-Ja-Men Udon. Chef Yakashi Takashi, owner of Takashi's in Chicago describes this dish as a Japanese version of spaghetti and bolognese sauce. It's basically a spicy eggplant and ground pork sauce over noodles with peppers, spicy notes and a creamy sauce that is enriched with sesame paste.

The recipe has 18 ingredients but I skipped a few altogether and used substitutions for a couple more and can't imagine it made any discernible difference. I didn't bother with the 1/2 cup dashi, 1/3 cup canned bamboo shoots, teaspoon of cornstarch or 3 Tablespoons of sake. I used Chinese chili garlic paste instead of a Japanese variety and Chinese sesame paste instead of tahini. I had to buy exactly 2 ingredients to make the dish, green peppers and ground pork. I could eat this dish every week.!

srirachacookbook2.jpgI would love to take a moment to review The Sriracha Cookbook that arrived last January. I would also like to take a moment to tell you how much I love the book. But I can’t. I won’t. Why? Because I’m too busy stuffing my face with this recipe.

Let’s say this will be the shortest book review in Mattbites’ history. I’m going to be lazy and point you to what others have said about Randy Clemons’ book appropriately titled The Sriracha Cookbook from Ten Speed Press.

(It’s a fantastic cookbook, and if you’re crazy for the flavors of that certain chili sauce then you really need the book. Really. It’s wonderful.)

But about this pork. Oh damn, this pork. Forget calling this  “slow-cooked”: you’ll need an overnight brine plus an additional 12 hours of cooking time. Let’s try “half-a-day-cooked-but-well-worth-the-time-invested”, ok?  But Randy lets us know there are no shortcuts to these types of flavors and he’s right–it’s worth it. 

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