Book review: Simple Family Feasts by Jeremy Pang

14 September 2023 by
Book review: Simple Family Feasts by Jeremy Pang

Don't be deceived by the words "simple" and "family" in the title of this book – it provides a window into pan-Asian cooking that rarely found in cookbooks

Don't be deceived by the words "simple" and "family" in the title of this book – it provides a window into pan-Asian cooking that rarely found in cookbooks, relayed in a digestible manner. It's a jumping-off point to the continent that can spark inspiration and help shake you out of a cooking rut.

Jeremy Pang is a familiar face from British television, having appeared on Ready Steady Cook and Sunday Brunch. He established his culinary school, inventively named the School of Wok, in 2009 and has published several cookbooks over the years. With this educational experience he's a pro at conveying recipes in a thorough manner without being condescending.

The sections are split by nationality, providing a thoughtful nod to authenticity rather than swaying into painting the cuisine of the continent with one pan-Asian brush. There are 10 chapters, including one for desserts. Dishes are categorised by their texture profile, such as the Vietnamese coconut and pork belly and eggs labelled "silky and melt-in-the-mouth", or the Japanese "crispy" panko'd pork. Many recipes are given a "wok clock" – Pang's way of placing ingredients clockwise in the order they are cooked on a plate beforehand to maintain a tidy work space.

Notable recipes includes the canned fruit ice kacang – a Malaysian street food of jelly, fruit and shaved ice, simply made by spreading the liquid on a tray for freezing, or there's the Yunnan mint salad, which uses mint leaves as the salad base. A crispy cream cracker pork recipe sees the savoury biscuits used as a crunchy coating, while for the pork wraps coffee is added to the poaching liquid for flavour and colour.

Pang has the ability to pitch recipes at a level that would suit a wide range of cooks, and while they are perfect for family home dinners, they can also help chefs develop their repertoire and dip their toe into global cuisines. There's even a lesson to be learned from Pang's success as a teacher, through the way he describes recipes and develops ideas, which could be a useful skill when teaching others.

Simple Family Feasts by Jeremy Pang (Hamlyn, £22)

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