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Asian Tapas: Small Bites, Big Flavors    by Christophe Megel & Anton Kilayko order for
Asian Tapas
by Christophe Megel
Order:  USA  Can
Periplus, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Chef Alain Ducasse's foreword to this cookbook tells us that contemporary cooking is 'experiencing an explosion of cultural diversity' and that it has 'become a citizen of the world' - for which my taste buds are extremely grateful. In her introduction, Judy Sarris speaks of the book's 'skillfully concocted selection of recipes inspired by the traditional flavors of Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, India, Japan and Bali'. The photographs are exquisite.

The Rainbow Quail Eggs make a very colorful addition to any festive table - they and many other recipes require that you have access to a well stocked Asian food store for ingredients like nori flakes, ponzu sauce and galangal root (that one's new to me but I was able to look it up in an Ingredients section at the back of the book). Spicy Lamb Seekh Kebabs look tasty and simple to make. I'm salivating over a picture of Flaky Siew Mai Croissants (the filling includes ground pork and chicken, shrimps and shiitake mushrooms, yumm!)

Here's another appetizing image of Kashmiri Shrimp Kebabs with Ginger and Coriander. Or how about Spicy Kimchi Pancakes with Vinegar Soy Dipping Sauce? I love satay. Variations here include Pork Satays with Pineapple and Spicy Peanut Sauce, which I plan to try this summer. Detailed intructions (with photos for each step) accompany more complicated creations like Bok Choy and Goat Cheese Barbajuans. Desserts? Several are tucked in here, like Tropical Tiramisu. Spiced Sumatran Coffee (with dark rum) would finish a meal off nicely.

Most of these are not simple recipes, the challenge starting with acquiring the ingredients. But, if you are willing to make the effort to impress your guests, Asian Tapas offers exciting flavor combinations and elegant results.

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