Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. And reading cookbooks, well, I like that even more. Long before I started cooking I read cookbooks. My favorite was my mom’s gigantic red and white checkered Betty Crocker Cookbook. I couldn’t actually use this oven by myself, but I’d read every recipe in that book, going over the ingredients, the procedure, like it was a fairytale. You might say that Betty Crocker was my first introduction to world of food.
A cookbook, for me, should be more than a collection of recipes. It should be a collection of stories as well. And Christina Sunae’s cookbook “Sabores del Sudeste Asiático” is just that. For those of you who aren’t familar with Sunae, she’s the brains behind the closed-door restaurant Cocina Sunae, which specializes in cuisine for Southeast Asia. If you’re in Buenos Aires, and haven’t gone, do it. Not only is the restaurant itself beautiful, but the food is out of this world.
Sunae does a great job of combining her heritage and knowledge in the kitchen. The cookbook starts off with an explanation of the most common sauces used in Asian cuisine, all of which are hand prepared – no bottled sauces here! She also describes the different noodles and rice used in these recipes, and where to find exotic Asian ingredients in Buenos Aires. Don’t be fooled, just because the corner stores are called chinos, doesn’t mean you’ll find Nuoc Mam there.
Sunae lays out some of the most well-known recipes like chicken satay, pad thai, pho and thai iced tea (eee! I love this stuff!) But she also gives us some new recipes like sweet and sour pork soup from the Philippines or pickled chicken with potatoes – mmmm, make me crazy.
The recipes are clear, well-written and accompanied by mouth-watering photos. The drawback? As with any exotic cookbook, I don’t have most of the ingredients on hand, but thankfully spring has arrived to Buenos Aires and barrio chino is only a short bike ride away.
“Sabores del Sudeste Asiático” can be found in most major bookstores in Buenos Aires. For more information about the closed-door restaurant, Cocina Sunae, visit their website.