The Authority on Asiatic cooking methods...
August 21, 2012 1:45 AM   Subscribe

Larousse Gastronomique and Julia Childs cookbooks are in some sense considered reputable authorities on French Cooking, similarly The Silver Spoon is a reputable encyclopedic study of Italian cuisine and cooking. Are there similar reputable and exhaustive books for various Asiatic Cuisines such as; Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, South East Asia etc?

I'm particularly interested in Chinese and Japanese cuisines as these are more familiar to me and my attempts at home have been rather pathetic. Also Korean classics would be good - I love a good Beef Bulgogi.

Generally the cookbooks I"ve seen are a bit well dubious and seem to focus more on odd westernized interpretations. That I wouldn't trust if I was reading the equivalent of this for French or Italian cooking.
posted by mary8nne to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
I remember David Thompson's huge, bright pink edition of Thai Food hitting the shelves when I was working in a bookshop. Negative reviews seem to bitch about him only using authentic ingredients. If you have access to Thai produce, you may enjoy this. From what I recall of it, it isn't just recipes but an introduction to the elements and balance needed in Thai food. The editorial reviews tell you more than I can.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 2:41 AM on August 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

I have no idea if this is seen as canonical any more, but I certainly got a lot out of Barbara Tropp's Modern Art of Chinese Cooking.
posted by sagwalla at 2:59 AM on August 21, 2012

There are some useful answers on Chinese and Korean cooking over at Chowhound.

tl:dr -

Chinese - not really, because it is so diverse and was never attempted historically
Korean - "Growing up in a Korean Kitchen"
posted by MuffinMan at 3:07 AM on August 21, 2012

I don't know of any books for that region which have the same level of authority as Escoffier or Larousse, but I've found the following to be pretty good and well regarded for their breadth and authenticity:

Classic Food of China by Yan-Kit So
The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller
Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible by Madhur Jaffrey
posted by MrBear at 3:13 AM on August 21, 2012

Best answer: Sichuan Cookery, by Fuschia Dunlop. You won't find a better authority on Sichuan cooking.

The Ultimate Curry Bible by Madhur Jaffrey. Jaffrey can be hit and miss (and goddam, american cookbooks, get some pictures for every recipe already! I would rather 50 pictured recipes than 500 no pictures, grrr), but the authenticity in methods and provenance in all the recipes in this is unquestionable. Jaffrey tracks down the history of dishes and relates it in addition to the details. Good stuff. Try the duck vindaloo, you will not look back.

Dakshin - Vegetarian Cuisine of South India by Chandra Padmanabhan. Even more authentic. For Southern Indian/Sri Lankan cuisine you won't find better. You need to like lentils and spices quite a bit, I do, so it's heavenly.

(On the web, Manjula's kitchen is also 100% authentic Indian cooking. Be aware, however that India is a big country, and her cuisine generally only covers one regions cuisine and in addition she is Jainist [or her cooking is] which is another subset of cuisine.)

A Korean Mother's Cooking Notes by Chang Sun-Young. Traditional to a fault. This is real home cooking stuff and exactly what would come out of a Korean mother's kitchen (on the web, Maangchi is a terrific resource for Korean cooking).

The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore by Grace Young (her other books are reasonably authentic and thorough as well).

Chinese Cuisine by Su Huei Huang. Out of print, but truly doesn't get much more authentic. These are often sold in Asian grocers, so you know it's the real deal.

The Songs of Sapa by Luke Nguyen. Not exhaustive by any means, but captures a very nice cross section of Vietnam, accessible but authentic, and beautifully presented.

Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji and Yoshiki Tsuji. Just published an update 25th anniversary edition. I wish more canonical books did this.
posted by smoke at 3:16 AM on August 21, 2012 [40 favorites]

Oops, broke my link for Sichuan Cookery - there it is!
posted by smoke at 3:17 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

For Sri Lankan food, the only one recommended to me was this one - Ceylon Daily News Cookery Book, but it dates from 1929 and covers everything from obscure tamil recipes through to how to make a cucumber sandwich.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:18 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just Hungry is a great Japanese food blog
posted by JABof72 at 3:35 AM on August 21, 2012

Just Hungry Sorry
posted by JABof72 at 3:36 AM on August 21, 2012

+1 for Tzuji & Tzuji for Japan.
posted by cromagnon at 3:47 AM on August 21, 2012

There was a previous AskMe on international standard cookbooks that you may want to check out.
posted by alms at 3:55 AM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:31 AM on August 21, 2012

Look up "Rasachandrika" by Samaj Saraswat Mahila for the acknowledged encyclopedia of Saraswat cuisine.
posted by aramaic at 6:00 AM on August 21, 2012

Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni (now in its 42nd printing!)

It taught me the Indian-style cooking technique of sauteeing the butter or olive oil with the spices first, then combining with lentils and veggies that made my daals more authentic.
posted by Pocahontas at 6:22 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

For Tamil Brahmin cuisine, you cannot get more authentic than the Cook and See (Samaithu Paar) series by Meenakshi Ammal. I doubt you'll find a proper Tamil Brahmin household without at least one (well-loved, well-used) copy.
posted by Tamanna at 8:18 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Diana Kennedy was awarded the Order Of The Aztec Eagle, by the Government of the Republic of Mexico for her contributions to the documentation of regional Mexican cuisine.

Some of her books (nearly all of them can be had for next to nothing used on Amazon) include:
The Art of Mexican Cooking (1989)
Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico (1978)

I own about 4 or 5, and they are good in laying out fundamentals, but they can come off as dated since no one called Tomatillos "Green Tomatoes".
posted by wcfields at 10:55 AM on August 21, 2012

Oops, thought you were asking for authority of all general ethnic cuisine.
posted by wcfields at 10:56 AM on August 21, 2012

Seconding Cook and See ("Samaithu Par" in Tamil). The best Tamil Brahmin (or South Indian vegetarian) cookbook there is. It is routine to give these books as gifts to newly weds.
posted by thaths at 5:39 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Regarding Fuchsia Dunlop: Land of Plenty is the American edition of Sichuan Cookery. There are differences between the two editions; in addition to the expected differences in measurements, Land of Plenty is about 100 pages longer.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:59 PM on August 22, 2012

For Japanese cooking, anything by Elizabeth Andoh (, or Harumi Kurihara (, . Their recipes are awesome, honest, and delicious.
posted by reddot at 6:45 AM on August 25, 2012

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