Whether you are gluten-free by necessity or choice, The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen by Laura B. Russell is a cookbook that is only sure to delight. It’s a gorgeous new cookbook that’s filled with recipes or alternatives for several Asian dishes and staples, including sauces that usually have wheat hidden in them. I was fortunate to receive an early (review) copy of this cookbook, which is available right now for pre-sale and will be officially released August 22nd.
While much of Asian cuisine is based on rice products, there’s also a good deal of Asian food that is wheat-based including dumplings, such as pot stickers, or gluten hidden in sauces that are integral to make a particular dish such as teriyaki or even something as basic as soy sauce. (Although there is gluten-free soy sauce available, you generally have to request it if you’re eating out.)
Until I read the author’s story – she discovered she was gluten intolerant, experiencing symptoms after the birth of her second child – I simply thought that gluten-free Asian cooking involved using gluten-free soy sauce. Knowing that a lot of Asian foods use rice and rice products perhaps led to this belief, as gluten intolerance and celiac disease seems to be more common in the West as we’re surrounded constantly by gluten-based products. (In fact, celiac disease has been called a Western epidemic in India.)
I made three recipes from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Gingery Pork Pot Stickers, Spring Vegetables Fried Rice, and Lychee Sorbet. All were delicious results; one described as dangerously so by my family. (Honestly, we couldn’t stop eating them!) While some cookbooks have recipes that are only made once, the recipes that I tried are going to be made again and again.
Click after the jump to read my thoughts on these dishes and more info, including a chance to win a copy!
First up, pot stickers. I think I’ve always liked pot stickers, but I remember developing a fondness for them when I saw Disney’s Mulan. Of the three recipes I made, it was this recipe for pot stickers that was classified as “dangerous”. We couldn’t stop eating them! They’re practically indistinguishable from wheat pot stickers. Even my brother, who claimed that he didn’t like pot stickers, had some and was annoyed when he couldn’t have more, since we were saving the rest (four) for my Dad to try. While I was still making the pot stickers, I had to add the water to the pan to steam them, and told my Mum to put some distance between herself and the stove – she didn’t hear; she was too busy enjoying the stickers! It took a second or third time telling her, until she realized.
Making the dough and cooking the pot stickers are time consuming; I spent several hours in the kitchen, though it was completely worth it in the end (and after I got over my terrifying first moment with hot oil and water; it was quite violent).
Hot oil and water, spluttering and spitting. It's absolutely terrifying; my heart's pounding.—
Z's Cup of Tea (@zscupoftea) August 18, 2011
For a moment, I was completely reminded of the first time I fried sausages by myself and only two words can describe that experience: absolutely terrifying.
I’m sure that the actual time it takes to prepare the pot stickers depends on if you’re just a beginner like I was – I’d never made pot stickers before and thus was taking extra care to following the instructions – or if you have had previous experience making pot stickers, or other dumplings, from scratch.
Luckily, once the pot stickers are filled and sealed, they can be frozen and only require cooking. Reheating cooked pot stickers are okay, but generally not recommended. The pork filling could be replaced with a vegetable filling instead for vegetarians or vegans; the dumpling dough is already vegan, using hot water as a binder.
This dish is very simple and fast to make, especially if you have everything prepped in advance. Before the rice and scrambled eggs are added to the vegetables and any seasoning is added, the vegetables smell amazing by themselves. If one is so inclined, the vegetables could just be eaten by themselves and the rest forgotten. Actually, I realized that these vegetables with a side of hot rice and teriyaki sauce (a D.I.Y recipe is included in The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen) would be a home-style version of Edo Japan‘s teriyaki or grilled vegetables.
One of the beautiful highlights of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen is that the recipes are based on simplicity. This lychee sorbet is one of the most simple recipes in the book, using just two cans of lychees and a simple syrup. As my readers know, I usually use honey as a sweetener and I did replace the sugar required for the simple syrup with honey. The canned lychees already contain sugar, so this wasn’t a sugar-free recipe but fresh lychees could probably also be used instead, if preferred.
I used an ice cream maker, but if you don’t have an ice cream maker, it is suggested to freeze the chilled sorbet base in ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, they’re pureed in a food processor or blender and the sorbet is put back in the freezer until ready to serve. I also didn’t fully puree the lychees, so that little bits of fruit was distributed throughout the sorbet (a suggestion in the recipe header) but next time I make it I think I’m going to make it completely smooth.
Since making this sorbet, it’s boosted my confidence in making sorbet and ice cream and I’m keen to make more – really, any frozen treats that require an ice cream maker – but that’s for another post.
More recipes I want to try from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen include
- Teriyaki Sauce
- Thai Cucumber Relish
- Chinese Barbecued Pork
- Japanese-Style Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Carrots
- Pickled Ginger (just because it would be amazing to say, “I made that”)
- Fresh Green Curry Paste
Some of these recipes are also a great base for personal creations. The Spring Vegetable Fried Rice could use other vegetables in addition to or instead of those called for; actually, I used broccoli instead of the asparagus originally called for and it worked.
The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen is available for pre-order right now on Amazon.com or on Amazon.ca. It will be available next week, August 22nd, 2011. You can also visit Laura B. Russell’s website here.
You can also enter to win a copy of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen in a giveaway, hosted by Shirley at gluten free easily. She’s giving away eight different cookbooks!
Although a number of the recipes that have been tweaked to fit gluten-free needs, such as the pot stickers or those that rely on sauces traditionally with gluten, there are also a number of recipes that are naturally gluten-free such as the fried rice I made. I think that even those who don’t eat gluten-free will appreciate this cookbook for its simple and easy recipes.