From chef James Syhabout of two-Michelin-star restaurant Commis, an Asian-American cookbook like no other--simple recipes for cooking home-style Thai and Lao dishes
James Syhabout's hugely popular Hawker Fare restaurant in San Francisco is the product of his unique family history and diverse career experience. Born into two distinct but related Asian cultures--from his mother's ancestral village in Isan, Thailand's northeast region, and his father's home in Pakse, Laos--he and his family landed in Oakland in 1981 in a community of other refugees from the Vietnam War. Syhabout at first turned away from the food of his heritage to work in Europe and become a classically trained chef.
After the success of Commis, his fine dining restaurant and the only Michelin-starred eatery in Oakland, Syhabout realized something was missing--and that something was Hawker Fare, and cooking the food of his childhood. The Hawker Fare cookbook immortalizes these widely beloved dishes, which are inspired by the open-air "hawker" markets of Thailand and Laos as well as the fine-dining sensibilities of James's career beginnings. Each chapter opens with stories from Syhabout's roving career, starting with his mother's work as a line cook in Oakland, and moving into the turning point of his culinary life, including his travels as an adult in his parents' homelands.
From building a pantry with sauces and oils, to making staples like sticky rice and padaek, to Syhabout's recipe for instant ramen noodles with poached egg, Hawker Fare explores the many dimensions of this singular chef's cooking and ethos on ingredients, family, and eating well. This cookbook offers a new definition of what it means to be making food in America, in the full and vibrant colors of Thailand, Laos, and California.
- ISBN-13: 9780062656094
- ISBN-10: 0062656090
- Publisher: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco
- Publish Date: January 2018
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.5 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.64 pounds
- Page Count: 368
Cooking: Simple sophistication
Everyone knows that pasta needs accompaniment, and just about everyone can make a quick sauce—or at least open a jar of the stuff. But when it comes to making a sauce to dress up a sautéed chicken breast or to add some zing to vegetable sides, all too many of us think it’s above our usual kitchen paygrade and better left to a trained chef. Lorilynn Bauer and Ramin Ganeshram’s The Art of the Perfect Sauce is a game changer, a reliable guide that can turn you into a super saucer. In it you’ll find 75 recipes, each with foolproof instructions, divided into sauces for poultry, fish, meat, veggies, dipping and dessert, plus a Sauce Table that shows you which sauces can do double or triple duty. A divine Coconut Cream and Turmeric Sauce pairs perfectly with chicken or can be spooned over a baked fish fillet. Miso Brown Butter Sauce is simple to make and enhances everything except dessert. Go forth and sauce—your meals will be a little lusher and a lot more vivid.
BEYOND PAD THAI
Hawker Fare is James Syhabout’s homage to his Isan Thai and Lao heritage, his immigrant parents and the food his mother cooked. Don’t know much about Isan (the northeastern region of Thailand) or Lao food? No worries. Syhabout, the chef and owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant Commis, takes us with him as he reflects on teaching himself to cook the food of his childhood by taking trips to the “motherland,” partaking in tutorials with his Thai mother and delving into his own memory. To dive into this intriguing cuisine, unaltered for American taste buds, Syhabout suggests that you build a pantry (a shopping list is included) and learn to make sticky rice and padaek, a Lao fish sauce, before you consider the recipes. I’d start with the more familiar, like redolent Fried Lemongrass Marinated Beefsteak or aromatic Fried Chicken with Charred Chile Jam, then onward to the more daring.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
I was charmed by the title of JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls’ debut cookbook, Between Harlem and Heaven, but a bit puzzled by its subtitle: “Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day.” Grits with bamboo shoots? No way—Johnson, a brilliant chef, and Smalls, a restaurateur and Tony and Grammy award-winning opera singer, are both stars of the flourishing Harlem culinary scene. In this book, they offer their fascinating take on the heritage food that reflects the extent of the African diaspora, intricately crisscrossed with a story of Asian influence. This is food with authentic soul, made with spices that can be traced from India to West Africa and Barbados to the American South, brushed with contemporary creativity and burnished with the finesse of a classically trained chef. Try the Cinnamon-Scented Fried Guinea Hen, put West African Peanut Sauce (aka the Mother Africa sauce) on everything, serve up elegant Curry-Crusted Cod with comforting Hominy Stew, and you’ll delight in dining on food with a rich cultural history.