by Sybil PrattMay, 1999
Yin and yangThe subtitle of Nina Simonds's new book, A Spoonful of Ginger is Irresistible, Health-Giving Recipes from Asian Kitchens and, believe me, in this book that's not an oxymoron. Ms. Simonds, a renowned teacher and authority on Chinese and Asian cooking, has compiled 200 recipes inspired by Asian holistic philosophy that is, food that is good for you, that tastes good or, more often, tastes terrific and is seasonally appropriate. If you want to get into the yin and yang of it all, into the underlying ideas of balance, of dealing with the body as a whole and seeing food as therapeutic and restorative, the info is here and fascinating. There's even a final chapter on The Kitchen Clinic and Herbal Tonics, with curative formulas for a variety of ailments from colds and flu to hangovers. If you just want to cook dishes with fresh, vibrant, varied flavors and textures, that's here too. Don't worry and don't be intimidated by unfamiliar ingredients or new cooking techniques, the recipes have all been translated to work well and easily for Western home cooks in their own kitchens, simplified where necessary and always accessible. For openers, there are satisfying soups, simple and complex, then an array of seafood, poultry, pork, beef, and lamb, soothing or spicy as suits your mood, all with suggestions for accompaniments to round out the menu. Vegetables stir-fried, steamed, braised, pickled, or part of crisp, cool salads tofu, soybeans, rice, and noodles, traditional and tempting, get the attention they deserve. If sweet treats in an Asian fashion are new to you, here's a chance to explore Eastern ways with fruit, custards, puddings, and cakes. East may be East and West may be West but, with Nina Simonds's gastronomic guidance, the twain not only meets, it eats!Sybil Pratt is an avid cook.