Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

There’s more to Mr Stein than fish and Cornwall, as his new book – a culinary quest through Southeast Asia – reveals.

Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

Say ‘Rick Stein’ in a game of word association, and ‘Cornwall’ will almost certainly follow. But Rick is also a seasoned traveller in the most literal sense; from the Med to the Pacific (and just about everywhere in between), he’s poked his nose into kitchens across the world in a career-long quest to bring new tastes to his readers.

Here he ventures to Southeast Asia, and proves himself to be a writer who really does his homework, roaming through the markets of Phnom Penh and the kitchens of Kampot in search of recipes to spirit the rest of us to the Orient.

His extensive experience and his boundless enthusiasm for the people he meets are immediately apparent – almost every recipe begins with a fascinating anecdote or a tip taken from his travels. Whether he’s learning a new twist on a prawn salad from Chef Wan, the ‘Jamie Oliver of the Far East’, or discovering Khatta curry in a Bangladeshi village, Rick gives all of his recipes a background and context, reminding his readers that the dish in question is an important part of someone’s culture, and one of the staple meals of a nation.

More importantly, they taste fantastic. Any fan of Asian flavours who has tired of the usual stir-fries, will find inspiration in dishes such as braised catfish in dark caramel sauce; chicken, coconut and galangal soup with chilli and kaffir lime leaves; or coconut dhal with tomatoes and curry leaves.

‘Odyssey’ is a term often used to describe journeys that just don’t merit the title, but Rick’s protracted wander through Southeast Asia – from Cambodia and Vietnam to Bangladesh and Bali – properly fits the bill.

It packs in 150 recipes, alongside dozens more techniques and tales, and is as close as you can get to a tour of the Orient without leaving your kitchen.

Published by BBC Books, priced £25.

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