Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thai char siew, amaretti cookies and do we need cookbooks?

Thai char siew with rice
Food Diary (June 22, 2011)
Breakfast: Rolled oats with strawberries
Lunch: Thai char siew with rice
Dinner: Leftover sautéed thai char siew with rice and potatoes, rolled oats

The thai char siew was born out of necessity, namely lack of ingredients. Without intending to cause any offence to die hard char siew fans or Chinese food patriots, the thai char siew was great, it had the usual char siewy goodness but with a kick.

I used red curry paste, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce to make the marinate. The oyster sauce had 46% soy sauce so soy sauce joined the party as an uninvited but welcome guest. Chinese 5-spice was omitted from the party since I felt that together with red curry it could have been a bit too much.

Given a choice I would prefer a regular char siew. Thai  char siew was delicious but its not the original stuff. For char siew with a kick I would add chilli powder since red curry reminds me of red curry. Maybe if I have this a few more times my brains will get used to an inter-Asian fusion.

Today's Favourite Photo
Amaretti Cookies

Today’s Favourite Blog
Source: BBC
BBC food blog raises the very interesting issue of “What do we want from our cookbooks?” Personally I don’t own any cook books simply because recipes are available for free on the internet. Cook books continue to sell well, but why? The blog states “But there’s a distinct pressure to write those sorts of books, simply because they sell so well. One agent told me, “forget recipes…no-one’s interested. They can Google for that. What readers want from a cookbook is lifestyle, an enviable homely lifestyle that they might in their dreams aspire to one day”.

I am guessing another reason is convenience. Some people prefer to read on paper rather than on the screen, to give their eyes a rest. Valid reason. I know lot of people print emails and articles even though they own laptops.

Recipes are available for free on the internet, however the internet seems to be driving demand for cookbooks instead of reducing it. Lot of food bloggers are writing cookbooks and food bloggers exist because of the internet.


  1. I never buy cookbooks but I love getting them as gifts! They give me so many new ideas that I wouldn't otherwise think of!

  2. Interesting. I don't own too many cookbooks, but a lot of the time, I use them for inspiration. Or to try something new. And, if I'm trying something new, I want to make sure it's from a more reputable cook.

  3. I pretty much never use my cookbooks anymore. I kind of like being inspired by whatever food blogger posts I see that day.

  4. Thai char siew sounds interesting! I never knew they had them. Maybe I should go on a quest for all kinds of char siews.
    I still buy cookbooks. Why, I don't know, probably becoz of the pretty pics on the cover. But really, I love buying books, any books. It isn't quite the same reading on a monitor.

  5. I love my cookbooks - I like to flip through them and look at the pictures and fantasize about great food. Of course, since I am reading specialist, I have to have my books in print.

  6. I like blog recipes because you know a *real* person, like yourself, has had success with them :)

  7. Interesting discussion about cookbooks. True, many recipes are on the internet but I do love leafing through a cookbook! :)

  8. Such an interesting post today!!!
    Let's start with your pork dish, which looks absolutely irresistible. As well the traditional version as the Thaï one. I haven't heard about char siew, but I must make it. I love pork.
    As for the cookbooks, even thought I spend lots of time browsing through google and blogs, searching for recipes and reading about food, I simply couldn't live without cookbooks. For me this is not only the difference in paper. It is different. A good cookbook is like a separate world, it has a different atmosphere, most of all old cookery books (and by old I mean even those from the 80s). Also, at least in France, there are famous chefs who publish books with their excellent recipes and these never appear on internet. Unless a blogger uses them, but it's not the same. I don't know how to explain it, but I own really lots of cookbooks and have never thought internet might substitute them. I like reading cookbooks before I go to sleep if I'm too tired to read fiction :-)
    I desperately need both internet and books to cook and to read about food.

  9. Everyone: I think the BBC article (and myself) did not mention that cook books give inspiration, it seems to be an important aspect.

    Ping: I don't think Thai's have char siew - I made the name up. Perhaps I should inform the Thai authorities that I have added a new dish to their cuisine:)

    Sissi: char siew is absolutely awesome, you should try it. I totally get your point about cookbooks. No wonder there is growing demand for cookbooks

  10. Interesting about the demand for cookbooks. I'd guess that cookbooks can be good for introducing you to a cuisine or specific type of food (like macarons) while the scattered information on the net. Also like anything else, yes, it's more effective for them to sell a lifestyle and feeling and not just a bunch of recipes. I think many people like the feel of a solid book instead of flimsy print-outs. I love my cookbooks but I must say I rely mostly on the internet these days because I like the reviews. Has definitely reduced the amount of "dud" recipes I've made now that I make sure to read reviews or get the recipes from blogs I trust.

  11. Really interesting post! I also love reading cookbooks for inspiration. I write a lot of my own recipes but sometimes it's a nice change to follow others and let a "pro" tell you what to do!

  12. Those cookies look so delicious! I love buying cookbooks, but my problem is often finding a place to store them!

  13. Wow, I missed Tammy's post on those delicious cookies! Mmmmmmm. And I'm a cookbook junkie...but I've started clearing out those that I never use. I generally go to the Internet first, but often go to my trusted cookbooks to look for more options :)

  14. I love char siew! Yum!
    I suppose I use both the internet and my cookbooks for recipes. And I do still buy cookbooks at least once or twice a year. Interesting has me thinking now.

  15. Never had tried Thai char sieu before, looks like I would love it specially with that spicy nature