We’re entering the season when cookbook reviewers announce their top picks of the year. T. Susan Chang, an author, writer, and commentator on NPR kicked off her 2012 list of favorite recipes with one from Asian Tofu! Susan has cooked through and championed the book in NPR’s summer cookbook picks as well as in a glowing Boston Globe review.
As a professional reviewer, Susan sees a lot of books. She’s persnickety and funny, as you may know if you’ve read her book, A Spoonful of Promises. So when she zoomed in on the recipe for Korean panfried tofu topped with a medley of Asian mushrooms, I was delighted. Okay, I was also relieved. Susan doesn't hold back when she dislikes something.
Pictured above from a reference shot I took long ago, dubu jeon is a recipe that wasn’t photographed for the book. That meant that Susan pored through my entire book. Often times, people cook dishes that’s accompanied by a sexy beauty shot.
I’m old fashioned, and I suppose so is Susan. We grew up with minimally photographed cookbooks. We paged through and perused, letting our palates imagine flavors and textures. Nowadays, cookbooks are heavily photo driven so I'm doubly gratelful that she dug deep and deeper. (I love photos but include too many in a cookbook and you may take space away from good recipe instruction and/or drive up the cost of the book.)
When my publisher and I put Asian Tofu together, my aim was to cover the gamut, from DIY tofu that took cooks from dried beans to curd to wonderful dishes that simply required a trip to a supermarket. Cooks can plug in anywhere to experience beancurd deliciousness. I’m happy that Susan has done just that and encourages others to follow suit.
Since the beginning of September I’ve been in and out of town for a total of 5 week. I just finished my last gig for 2012 and took this week to pause and recover. Lots of good things are happening but I needed to catch my breath. Whew. This was a nice way to finish the week.
Keep up with Susan's picks as she reveals them on her blog. It's bound to have delicious things you want to try. Plus, it's just good reading.