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Book of the Month: The Spice Merchant’s Daughter

Book of the Month, October 2008

Welcome to the inaugural review for the Chile Underground’s new feature, the Book of the Month! We know you’ll find it to be ‘da BOM.’

The (first) featured book is a cookbook, “The Spice Merchant’s Daughter” by Christina Arokiasamy. Ms. Arokiasamy is originally from Malaysia, and from a family of spice merchants. Her great-great-granddaddy was a captain for the British East India Company, and he shipped spices around the world. Her mom ran a spice stall in Kuala Lumpur.

So when she says she knows spices, it’s gotta be true.

This volume, a recent release (after 2.5 years of effort), is as succulent as the food shown inside. Laid out around key pantry items for Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai dishes, Christina (can I call you Christina?) includes beautiful pictures that will have you drooling! So wear a bib when reading the recipes. There are many well-written stories that highlight Christina’s family upbringing and the culture she grew up in.

There are so many great recipes here! Braised Pork in Caramelized Soy Sauce and Rice Noodles with Seafood and Basil are a couple of the more tantalizing ones. There’s also Spicy Beef Salad, Lemon Pepper Wings, Steamed Snapper with Tamarind-Ginger Sauce, tasty Cardamom Butter Rice and a Coconut Flan that uses star anise that is to critically wound for.

It’s clear that, like Raghavan Iyer (one of my favorite food writers), Christina is a master teacher. She offers classes in and around her home in Seattle, and takes tour classes to Southeast Asia every so often as well. If you live in the Great Northwest, consider taking some of her classes where you can learn “from the Master” how to cook like the Spice Merchant’s Daughter…

Enjoy the (Spicy Flavorful) Heat!

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