11 Asian Cookbooks We Recommend for Beginners
Looking to explore Asian cuisines and don't know where to start? We've got a list of Asian cookbooks for you to read, learn from and fall in love with!
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By Jet Tila
If your taste buds had a bucket list, 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die is the book they would refer to. Chock-full of tasty and flavorful dishes from celebrity chef and restaurateur Jet Tila, this gastronomic encyclopedia is a must-have for anyone looking to dive into Asian cuisines. Traverse through rich curries, warming soups, savory stir-fries, springy noodles and more.
Notable recipe: Sweet chili Sriracha hot wings
Forget the store-bought bottle! Chef Jet’s quick and easy homemade Sriracha recipe will change your life. With equal parts spice and sweetness, your next batch of hot wings will never be the same.
By Marion Grasby
Asia Express: 100 Fast and Easy Favorites is a fun, wide-spanning collection of classic and Asian-inspired dishes from Thai-Australian cook Marion Grasby. Whether you’re cooking a meal for two or looking to entertain a party of 25 or more, this book has the range and whimsy to impress you and your dinner guests.
Notable recipe: Prawn cakes with chili lime sauce
Nothing screams zest like seafood and a spritz of citrus. These tasty prawn cakes served with chili lime sauce are a definite hit. Marion’s recipe is no-fuss, direct and batch-cooking friendly so you can enjoy bursts of lime, coriander, chiles and mint whenever you want.
By Andrea Nguyen
In Vietnamese Food Any Day, award-winning author Andrea Nguyen blends her years of experience with tidbits of her mother’s advice to gather the invigorating flavors of Vietnamese food and transport them to your kitchen with ease. With an emphasis on easy-to-find ingredients, Andrea crafts pathways to achieving restaurant-level results in your home regardless of how close you are to an Asian grocery store.
Notable recipe: Sizzling rice crepes
Known as bánh xèo, these golden parcels teeming with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts are best served with douses of nước chấm sauce (fish sauce, garlic, sugar, lime, chiles) and a spread of fresh vegetables.
By Priya Krishna
No singular cookbook could contain the plethora of dishes and cooking styles that exist across the many states of India. What Indian(-ish) does beautifully is take inspiration from different elements of India’s rich cuisine and reimagines them within the landscapes of Indian-American diaspora cooking. With fun and clever fusions like roti pizza and “Indian Gatorade” (salty-sweet limeade), Priya pays homage to her mother’s colorful journey of raising her children at the intersections of different palates and cultures.
Notable recipe: Dahi toast
Thick slices of sourdough bread, creamy spiced yogurt and cilantro chutney meet in this tasty sandwich. Fresh curry leaves, red onion and chiles amp up the spice in each bite.
By Maangchi and Martha Rose Shulman
Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking is truly a testament to multitude of delicious recipes encompassed in Korean cuisine—meat dishes, stews, noodles, banchan (side dishes) and beyond fill its pages. With thorough overviews of special ingredients, easy-to-follow instructions and helpful cooking tips, this book makes Korean dishes for all occasions simple and accessible for everyone.
Notable recipe: Bulgogi with noodles
One of the most popular Korean dishes, bulgogi is a marinated meat dish known for its sweet and savory flavors. Maangchi’s recipe pairs bulgogi marinated with pureed pears and onions with chewy sweet potato starch noodles—it’s a marvelous yet unexpected combo.
By Atsuko Ikeda
Of course, there is a whole world of Japanese food that exists beyond sushi and ramen. Within the pages of Atsuko’s Japanese Kitchen, the delicate and soothing tastes of comfort foods from various regions throughout Japan come to life. Simple yet informative details outline the mechanics of Japanese cooking to open up Japanese cuisine to anyone looking to try it.
Notable recipe: Matcha tiramisu
In Atsuko’s rendition of tiramisu, the light, earthy bitterness of matcha—a type of green tea powder—is artfully meshed together with the fluffy egg sweetness that we all know and love. In the battle of coffee versus tea, it’s hard not to be conflicted on which does it better.
By Kwoklyn Wan
Short on time and ingredients, but still craving your favorite takeout dish? Kwoklyn Wan’s Chinese Takeaway in 5 is overflowing with flavorful, easy-to-prepare recipes that can be made with only five ingredients and a basic assortment of pantry seasonings and spices. Try your hand at egg drop soup, lemon chicken or a refreshing lychee crush.
Notable recipe: Sweet and sour pork balls
Crunchy on the outside, yet juicy on the inside, these golden pillows of pork are one of the most recognizable Chinese takeout menu options. Drizzle them with some sweet and sour sauce and serve with steamed or fried rice.
By Sarah Tiong
It is no secret that Southeast Asia boasts some of the most colorful and tasty street food in the world. In Sweet, Savory, and Spicy, former Masterchef Australia finalist Sarah Tiong presents an entire collection of delicious bites from marketplaces and food carts. From decadent Malaysian kuih keria (sweet potato donuts) to steaming bowls of Cambodian kari sach ko (beef curry), this volume brings some of the region’s best meals to your home kitchen.
Notable recipe: Malaysian drunken clams
This dish—a favorite among Malaysian-Chinese foodie circles—has a burst of salt, spice and citrus in every bite. Sarah’s recipe switches out cooking wine for a can of beer and features chiles, caramelized garlic and shallots. It makes a great starter or a delectable full meal when paired with sticky rice.
By James Syhabout
In Hawker Fare, Michelin star chef and restaurateur James Syhabout marries together stories of growing up as a Thai and Laotian refugee in Oakland, California, with a selection of recipes from his restaurants. With detailed explanations of the nuances of both Laotian and Thai cuisine, Syhabout packs in all the joys of both countries’ food traditions in a singular text.
Notable recipe: Khao mun gai (poached chicken and rice)
Despite its seeming simplicity, khao mun gai, or KMG, is a cult favorite for many. The poached chicken, gingery fermented soybean sauce and rice cooked with chicken fat all melts together. It’s served with a side of aromatic chicken broth and a fan of cool cucumber slices.
By Kris Yenbamroong
Whether you’re looking to learn the classic dishes of Thai grandmothers, transform ingredients you already have on hand, or spice up your party appetizers, Night + Market has you covered. From pad thai noodles to funky crispy catfish tacos, Kris’s collection of recipes truly captures the immense diversity of Thai foodways, traditions and fusions.
Notable recipe: Pad kee mao (drunken noodles)
Although arguably lesser known than pad thai or pad see ew, this thick, savory, fried rice noodle dish completes the Thai noodle trifecta. Night + Market uniquely features pastrami as the protein of choice, but this recipe is easily customizable for any dietary restrictions or personal tastes.
By Lara Lee
Part cookbook and part personal cultural journey, Coconut and Sambal celebrates the various Indonesian recipes that Lara Lee’s grandmother prepared for her while growing up in Sydney, Australia, as well as the newer dishes she encountered during her travels in Indonesia. Featuring spicy sambals, homemade snacks and a variety of beloved dishes like nasi goreng, Coconut and Sambal blends childhood culinary nostalgia with Lee’s fresh take on Indonesian cuisine.
Notable recipe: Sate ayam madura (chicken satay with peanut sauce)
Blending the nuttiness of peanuts, the sweetness of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and bursts of lime, this dish pushes the boundaries of meals “on a stick.”