Cover of Taste of the East

Title: Taste of the East
Author: Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murry
266 pages; Softcover $18.95 US/$24.00 CAN
Publisher: Da Capo Press Lifelong Books, 2010
Reviewed by, Sarah A. Kurobe, November, 2010 The review---

Veganism is a diet that excludes all animal products, differentiating from vegetarianism in that vegans also exclude dairy and have a much more strict and rigid diet. This cookbook has various recipes of Asian cuisine that are transformed into vegan meals in excitingly new ways. This cookbook is comprised of five main parts: The cuisine of India, The cuisine of Thailand, The cuisine of China, The cuisine of Japan, and Asian Fusion. There are a lot of recipes in this book, but it is also important to note that most of these recipes need various ingredients that may not be found in the common kitchen. For each cuisine, “The Asian Pantry” is an index that explains ingredients that are listed in the recipes. This index makes it helpful for cooks who may not be familiar with Asian ingredients. That being said, unless one has access to an Asian market, it may be very difficult to find the ingredients in your everyday supermarket.

The recipes themselves are organized in a clear and concise format. There are chef’s tips listed at the bottom of many of the recipes, which can be helpful for newer cooks. There are 14 color photographs of various dishes created from the recipes. The photographs are attractive and of good quality. Based on the selection of photographs, I decided to try making Lotus Root Salad and Tempura Vegetables. When making the lotus root salad, I found that the lotus root itself was hard to locate in a grocery store and I found myself having to go to three different stores before I finally found it. The rest of the ingredients call for everyday supermarket ingredients such as ginger, orange juice and sesame oil. The dish was quite easy to make, although I thought that the end result could have had more flavor. I think it is important when cooking vegan cuisine to add as much flavor as possible and to incorporate some type of meatless protein. The vegetable tempura was very similar to the ones I’ve eaten back home in Japan. The vegetables used in this recipe were onions, zucchini, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms, which were very easy to locate. The end result of this recipe was crispy golden brown pieces of vegetables that are much healthier than most fried food with no cholesterol or trans fats. Overall, the cookbook lends an informative guideline to those who are new to being vegan. However, for non-vegans the recipes may be a bit bland and overly difficult in terms of locating ingredients.
Tempura Vegetables
Photos Copyright
2010 by Sarah Warfield, Sarah Joy Davis.
Tempura Vegetables

Though deep-frying and healthy living do not go hand in hand, we think you may enjoy this recipe every now and again And choosing the best-qualy ingredients makes a big difference.

Cut the vegetables as flat as possible this makes them easier to fry in shallow oil. You may wish to lightly pre-steam harder vegetables such as potatoes, squash, or car ram. Please keep in mind that the smaller variety of vegetables you use, the quicker the preparation time will be. Serve with soy sauce, Sweet and Sour Sauce (page 103), Ponzu Sauce (page 148), Mango Ginger Sauce (page 61), or one of the following dipping sauces.

Serves 4

4 cups mixed vegetables
(onions, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, etc.)
2 cups safflower or sunflower oil or other oil for frying (16 fluid ounces)
2 1/2 cups flour (try wholewheat or white spelt flour
or for gluten-free tempura use brown doe flour)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups sparkling water

1. Cut the vegetables and set aside near the stove. Pour the oil into a large, deep sautee pan, pot, or wok. Heat the oil over medium heat for a few minutes while you prepare the batter.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour and salt. Add the sparkling water and stir again to combine. Test if the oil is hot enough by dripping a little bit of the batter into it. If It'sizzlles and the batter remains at the top, you can begin.

3. Dip the vegetables in the batten shaking off the excess if necessary, and use tongs to place them into the oil one by one. Fill the pan with as many as can fit without sticking together.

4. Fry on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with the tongs, allowing each piece a few seconds to drip off excess oil. Transfer to a baking tray lined with paper towels. Serve immediately.
Lotus Root Salad
Photos Copyright
2010 by Sarah Warfield, Sarah Joy Davis.

Lotus Root Salad

The root of the majestic lotus flower, prevalent throughout South and East Asia, is perhaps equally captivating in the culinary world—as far as unique shapes go. When you slice the root, an intricate mosaic pattern is revealed. It is crispy, slightly starchy, and slightly sweet in flavor. Serve on a bed of thinly sliced naps cabbage and grated purple cabbage Fora colorful presentation.

Serves 4 to 6

1 large fresh lotus root, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups) (see below)
1 carrot, peeled into thin ribbons or sliced thinly on the diagonal
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons feshly squeezed lemon or orange juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sesame oil or 2 tablespoons of water for an oil-free version
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder, optional

1. Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and gently mix well.

2. Allow it to marinate, tossing occasionally, until ready to serve. The longer the dish has to marinate, the more flavorful and harmonious your dining experience will be.

Chef's Tips and Tricks

Lotus root contains a lot of fiber, which can be a bIt'starchy and slightly bitter. Here is a tip for working with, this fascinating ingredient. Peel the root, slice, and place it in a bowl of water with a few drops of vinegar to prevent discoloration. We actually enjoy the root In its raw form. However, remove some of the bitterness you Can steam the root for 5 minutes, or boil it for a few minutes in the water with vinegar.
From the book The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2010.