I love when a cookbook has a creative concept, so when I was given the opportunity to review Building a Perfect Meal by Michelle Tchea I knew it was going to be a fun adventure. I might add that when the creative concept is combined with Asian cuisine, well, it doesn’t get much better.
The cookbook cover reads:
“The concept of this cookbook is simple: start with a basic recipe and then elevate it into something spectacular…”
The book starts with a helpful explanation of ingredients including things such as red beans, taro, daikon and luffa. After the knowledge building, the fun begins! Each page has two recipes – the basic recipe to master and then the more complex recipe which incorporates the basic.
For example, Boiled Eggs followed by beautiful Marbled Tea Eggs; Sesame String Bean Salad and then Peanut Summer Noodles; for dessert, Gloriously Sweet Red Beans followed up by Sweet Red Beans and Panna Cotta.
There aren’t many cookbooks ideal for both the seasoned cook and the beginner, but this one definitely meets that goal. The best part is that the recipes are straight forward with few ingredients, so if you like quick cooking, this book is for you.
There are many recipes I can’t wait to try, but for my review I went straight to the Bean Curd and Prawn Stew. I was drawn to this recipe both by the flavors and by the beautiful photo (one of many that grace the pages through the entire book).
The basic recipe for this dish is Stir-fried Minced Pork. A few more ingredients and the stew is born. This is one of those dishes that surprise you with flavor. Using only sugar and soy sauce for seasoning allows the taste of the other ingredients to shine through.
Bean Curd and Prawn Stew
Reprinted with permission from Michelle Tchea
Cooking oil for shallow-frying
Onion 1 small, peeled and finely chopped
Prawns (shrimps) 4, peeled and roughly chopped
Minced pork 150 g (5 1/3 oz)
White wine or water (optional) 1 – 2 Tbsp
Diced carrots 45 g (1 ½ oz)
Firm bean curd 100 g (3 ½ oz), cut into small cubes
Dark soy sauce 1 Tbsp
Sugar ½ tsp
Hot water (optional) 1 – 2 Tbsp
Corn flour (cornstarch) 1 tsp, mixed with 2 tsp cold water
Spring onions (scallions) to garnish, finely chopped
Heat oil in a wok and lightly sauté onions until fragrant. Add prawns and cook until pink, about 1 minute.
Add pork, breaking up any large pieces. Add in a splash of wine or water if the mixture is drying up.
Add carrots and continue to cook over medium heat for another 2 minutes or until the meat is just cooked but still moist.
Add bean curd, soy sauce and sugar and cook for another 2 minutes or until heated through. Add a splash of hot water if the mixture is looking dry.
Add corn flour mixture and simmer for further 1 minute before removing from heat. Garnish with spring onions and serve hot with rice.
Disclosure: This cookbook was sent to me by Michelle Tchea for review purposes. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so. Thoughts and opinions here are my own.
Lori Rice is a freelance writer, recipe developer, food photographer and nutritional scientist. Fake Food Free is a creative outlet that allows her to connect with people from around the world who share a love of travel, food culture and cooking.