To truly understand a region's culinary arts, you must consider all the factors that contribute to its cuisine.
Geography, history, ethnic diversity, and culinary etiquette converge to become the building blocks of its food world. Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore each possesses its own Culinary Identity™a way of choosing, cooking, and serving food that is immediately identifiable with that nation-yet these selected cuisines have more in common than is apparent to the casual observer.
A look into their pantries shows the common threads. A taste of their dishes reveals the different tapestries they weave. Just as an Italian chef would find many familiar ingredients in a French kitchen, so a Thai home cook would be among many familiar ingredients in a Vietnamese home. It's what they do with their hands and their palates that determines whether the food they produce is Italian or French, Thai or Vietnamese.
A cook's influence on raw ingredients as they are combined and transformed into a completed dish is illustrated perfectly by comparing the foods of Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. These two culinary regions are worlds apart both in geography and cuisine. The classic Jamaican curry bears little resemblance to the curries of Northern Thailand in both flavor and appearance; however...more can be found in the pages ofSoutheast Asian Flavors book.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates)
This iconic Southeast Asian aromatic fibrous herb has multiple flavor identities that are illustrated with these diagrams that dissect one common ingredient and its usage and application from each culture.
Take an epicurean adventure through the actual footage of the bustling Thai market.
Singapore Street Smarts
The street fare of one of the world’s greatest dining destinations is ready to roll onto American menus. Download PDF
Culinary Identity graphic
A regions Culinary Identity is made up of the regions Prevailing Flavors, Geography, History, Ethnic Diversity, and Culinary Etiquette. The combination of these elements defines and unites a people, culture, and cuisine as one distinct group. It is culture on a plate.
In a word: No. Food culture is a living force that’s constantly evolving. In this book, “traditional” and “authentic” have two different yet related meanings. Traditional cuisine refers to the way foods have been prepared through history—the way natives have cooked and presented food and passed those customs from generation to generation. Authentic cuisine is also steeped in history— respectful of traditions but incorporating innovations while still retaining the essential features that impact all our senses—sight (colors, presentations, knife cuts, etc.), smell (the aromas), taste (balance or equation of sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami), touch (texturalattributes—fat, doneness, etc.) and sound (crunch factor, etc.). Spice pastes have been integral to Southeast Asian cuisines for centuries. Once they were always hand pounded in a mortar. That’s traditional. Now, they’re sometimes puroeed in a blender. Since that’s now routinely done by modern practitioners of these native cuisines, it’s authentic.
This happens at some level within an Asian country and more so by Asian cooks in foreign lands as they adapt to local conditions, ingredients, and tools. Traditional foods and techniques are sometimes replaced by more contemporary versions— remaining authentic, but updated. The recipes in this book are all as authentic as you would find if you stepped into a Southeast Asian home, restaurant, or market stall today. Some are also...more can be found within the pages of the Southeast Asian Flavors book.
Regional Foods Make a Statement
The differences between foods from region to region within a country can sometimes be as dramatic as those from country to country. Think of the colorful, complex gumbos of the American South compared with the staid chowders of New England. The ingredients that one area possesses can create unique dishes that are worlds apart from foods of another area, even when they’re only separated by a few miles. Comparing the foods of southern Malaysia with the dishes of northern Malaysia could be as dramatic as the difference between France and Spain. This was truer in the past, as modernization has diminished the prominence of traditional regional cuisines, especially......more can be found in the pages of Southeast Asian Flavors book.
Have you ever seen a Southern Thai man spin around while pouring tea?!
Often called groundnuts in Asia, are an essential ingredient in the Southeast Asian Pantry! Through these diagrams you can see how each culture developed a peanut sauce with its own unique elements and hence flavor profile