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Gail Davis

Gail Davis

Posted July 8, 2010

Published in Add category, Food, Lifestyle

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Book Review: The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray

Read More: Asian cuisine, cookbook, Gail Davis, Taste of the East, vegan

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tasteofeastcover-1.jpgAs soon as I heard about The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East, I couldn't wait to get my hot little hands on a copy. But wait a minute ... did I hear that right? 150 Asian-inspired recipes I can prepare in 30 minutes or less? Am I dreaming? A sharp pinch and a quick skim through the book's 200+ pages of recipes for delectable dishes from Afghanistan to Viet Nam, tells me that I am holding the key to much more than curry in a hurry; it's more like accelerated culinary nirvana.

Indian, Thai, and Iranian foods are among my favorite cuisines and hold a very special place in my heart and at my table. I own several wonderful cookbooks that exclusively feature recipes from these far-away lands. But to have just one book filled with near- and far-Eastern Asian recipes that can be prepared in as little time as it takes to get take-out is nothing short of a godsend.

I am already a huge fan of the authors' best-selling book, The 30 Minute Vegan. Could they possibly outdo themselves with another collection of 30-minute recipes? The minute I honed in on the recipe for Vanilla Cardamom Rose Lassi on page 38, I quickly realized they had.

Vanilla Cardamom Rose Lassi

I suppose it would have been lovely to sprinkle a few rose petals on top, but I couldn't resist placing this rose bud on Mark's glass for an extra touch of romance. Not that this beverage wasn't already romantic. The most enticing ingredients combined to create a creamy drink that was intoxicatingly fragrant and passionately luscious. I substituted So Delicious Coconut Milk Kefir for the coconut milk yogurt suggested in this recipe, with palate-pleasing results. "Suggested" really is the key word in ALL of this book's wonderful recipes. In both 30-Minute Vegan books, authors Reinfeld and Murray encourage readers to experiment, tweak, and otherwise have fun playing with the recipes. While many authors invite readers to create their own recipe variations, in an almost magical way, Reinfeld and Murray truly inspire such creativity.

Like a mystery novel page-turner just waiting to be devoured, Taste of the East excited my curiosity and taste buds. With dishes like Tibetan Dumplings, Tempeh Vegetable Korma, and Arame Lotus Root Sauté, it was agonizingly difficult choosing the next recipe to sink my teeth into. Thoughtfully, Taste of the East is organized by country of origin, not only by course, so you don't have to wait to get to the end of the book to get to the dessert recipes. Within each section, the recipes are listed in the order you'd find them on a menu, from appetizers to desserts. Each section starts with a glossary of ingredients unique to the country's cuisine, and sprinkled throughout the book are helpful boxes with Thoughtful Chef's Tips and Tricks. (What do you do if you tear your nori in the middle of making a sushi roll?) Highly useful appendixes include Preparation Basics for everything from toasting spices, nuts, and seeds to roasting tofu and tempeh.

In the spirit of sweetness, (and because I have absolutely no problem with eating dessert first), I dove straight ahead into these two enticing recipes--Mango Custard Pudding from China and Black Rice Pudding from Thailand.

Mango Custard PuddingIf you like coconut milk, you'll love these desserts. Both were decadently rich, creamy, and sweet.







After satisfying my sweet tooth, it was time to explore more serious fare. Inspired by the red lentil dal I enjoyed so much at Ananda Village a few weeks ago, I decided to try the Indian Dhal and paired it with the recipe for Coconut Spinach Rice.

Indian Dhal and Coconut Spinach Rice
Agonizingly difficult-to-choose quickly transformed itself into incredibly delicious-to-eat. And true to the book's title, once I had all of the ingredients assembled, both dishes went from stove to table in 30 minutes.

Next, I wanted to become reacquainted with a dish I'd only eaten once many years ago. Indonesian Gado Gado is a delightful medley of both raw and cooked vegetables served with a sassy peanut sauce dressing. Although the dish is traditionally made with cooked potatoes, I used yams instead, which together with roasted tempeh, red cabbage, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, red onions, scallions, tomatoes, and cucumbers created a vibrantly delectable fusion of flavors. The dressing blended peanut butter, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, maple syrup, and tamarind paste together and was the perfect accompaniment.

Gado Gado

To get my Thai on, I decided to try a dish I've never had before, Sweet Soybean Sauce With Noodles, better known as Pad Siew. This simple dish made with a soy-sauce marinade and stir-fried vegetables is surprisingly tasty. Among the ingredients is a fish-free sauce (the recipe is in the book!) which substitutes for the traditional fish sauce used in many Thai dishes. It's an optional ingredient in this recipe, but I really do think it added a little pizazz to my Pad Siew. And I appreciate having an alternative to fish sauce on hand for all of my other Thai cooking.

Pad Siew

Whether you want to impress your friends and family with your cooking prowess or you just enjoy eating great Asian cuisine, get yourself a copy of  The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East. It will inspire and delight you and awaken the creative culinary genius within you.