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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review: 300 best Stir-Fry recipes

(Note: the book that is the subject of this review was provided to me by the publisher for free. I received no other compensation for this review.)
I consider myself a pretty decent cook, and I like Chinese food, but I've never mastered the art of stir frying. I get the general idea, which is to cook one or more ingredients, put them off to the side, and then cook more, so that everything comes together at the right moment of doneness. I just have never had a great feel for which ingredients go in when, and I usually end up with everything cooking together at the bottom of the wok, which defeats the whole purpose of using a wok.
So this book, 300 best Stir-Fry recipes, is a welcome addition to my kitchen bookshelf.  It provides a good overview of stir-fry cooking, and a wealth of recipes.
This is more a recipe collection than a how-to guide. There is a brief but useful introduction with a glossary of ingredients and equipment, but most of the instruction is contained within the recipes themselves.
The recipes are well written and clear. And that's probably all that's needed, since the techniques of stir-frying aren't that difficult; it's mostly a matter of knowing what to add when.
The recipes are broken down into chapters based on the main ingredient:  chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and so on, with additional chapters on fried rice, noodles, and various sides. Many of the recipes are, of course, Asian, or Asian-inspired, like five-spice pork with bok choy and green onions, and Singapore-style noodles with vegetables in curry sauce. But there are a lot of other recipes that marry other cuisines with stir frying, like green beans and hominy with country-style sausage, and a leftover Thanksgiving turkey stir-fry that includes cranberry sauce. There are also quite a few meat-free recipes, with and without tofu (I'm not a fan of tofu, but the other vegetarian recipes look tempting).
Like other cookbooks from this publisher, the recipes are accompanied by useful tips on food preparation, ingredients, kitchen techniques, and so on. Two sections of full-color photographs are another plus.
Author Nancie McDermott's relationship with Thailand began with three years she spent there as a Peace Corps volunteer. Since then she has gone on to write several cookbooks and is a frequent contributor to prominent food-related publications. Her expertise comes through well here, as she provides concise, easy-to-follow directions. With the help of this book I hope to finally get some good use out of that wok on my shelf.
300 best Stir-Fry recipes
Nancie McDermott, author
352 pages
Robert Rose ©2007

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