The Best Asian Cookbooks (Review) in 2020
Home-cooked Asian food and its flavors are so good for the soul, bringing all those spicy and exotic tastes into delicious meals that are much more than a simple ‘take-out’. Fresh, vibrant, fragrant and savory, Asian-style cooking is one of the US’s most popular cuisines and with the plethora of Asian cookbooks out there, it is easier than ever to recreate all those authentic flavors at home. From Japanese gyozas and Indonesian laksa to Korean dumplings and Chinese sweet and sour, Asian food can also be quick to cook and healthy, making the perfect late-night supper or full-on banquet to impress your dinner guests.
We take a look at some of the best Asian cookbooks for you to add to your recipe book collection.
The Best Asian Cookbook
Gok Cooks Chinese
British fashion stylist and TV personality Gok Wan brings an easy-going style to his writing with this straightforward guide to cooking delicious Chinese food at home. And there is a deeply personal flavor to the recipes in Gok Cooks Chinese, as they all reflect the food he eats with his own family. Motivated by quick and healthy Chinese cooking, you get 80 tasty recipes, from Gok’s own take on classic takeaways to street food, one pot wonders and Gok’s own family favorites.
The result is an Asian cuisine cookbook that’s easy to follow and more importantly, easy to replicate in the comfort of your own kitchen. He also demystifies the more obscure Chinese cooking ingredients, removing any barriers to trying new recipes and mealtime ideas. And all of the recipes have ingredients or substitutes that can be sourced in your local supermarket or Asian food store. As one of our best Asian cookbooks, this is lovely read and one to impress the family with, come mealtime.
Cookbook Momofuku by David Chang
A New York Times bestseller, Momofuku; A Cookbook is an absolute delight to read and deliciously brings the bold flavors and Asian spices in classic Korean as well as more modern fusion cooking to life. Cooked up by the culinary brains behind the Momofuku restaurant brand, this is the book to go to if you like modern twists on traditional Korean cuisine. Quality ingredients are the buzzwords in this gorgeous looking cookbook, so you will need to make more of an effort in your shopping, but it’s worth it.
A large part of the book also focuses on the noodle, so if you are also a fan of the ramen, broth or noodle stir fry then this could be the cookbook for you. But Momofuku; A Cookbook is also adept at shaking things up and throws in a few Korean ‘fine-dining’ curveballs – we particularly like the roasted Jersey dived scallops with dashi and chive oil. Add in some lovely background touches and some stunning photography and you have one of the classiest Asian cookbooks for your kitchen shelf.
101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die by Jet Tila
With both Thai and Chinese heritage, Jet Tila is more than well-placed to write about Asian cooking and in ‘101 Asian Dishes you need to cook before you die’, he’s rustled up a winner. Bringing together some of the best flavor combinations and authentic ingredients, this tasty book covers Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese cuisine that’s super-easy to cook at home.
This really is masterclass in cooking the Asian cuisine classics without making too much of a meal about it. Most of the ingredients are pretty easy to source and while it may ask you to push your own culinary boundaries a little, the effort in terms of authentic flavor is worth it. And you get some super insights as well as top tips to cooking Asian from someone who has obvious skill and passion for this flavorsome cuisine.
Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan
Fresh from culinary magazine, Lucky Peach, comes this delicious little cookbook that goes some way to demystify some of the classic Asian recipes. And the result is a straightforward guide to bringing out the flavor in Asian food you can cook every day. You get 101 easy Asian food recipes that take you from breakfast to a full-on banquet and dessert, with lots of tips and nice side dishes to make your mouth water along the way.
We particularly like the way 101 Easy Asian Recipes takes on some of the more difficult Asian classics and translates them into easy to cook recipes, without losing any of the flavor. All your favorite Asian cuisine classics are also here, from noodles and ramen to fragrant sauces, giving the whole book a home-cooking feel mixed with some restaurant styling.
Essential Wok Cookbook by Naomi Imatome-Yun
After a hard day’s work, sometimes there’s nothing nicer than quick stir fry of something comforting and delicious. And with this recipe-packed Asian cuisine cookbook, you will be more inclined to break out the wok than reach for your local takeaway on speed dial! Sumptuously photographed and laid out, The Essential Wok Cookbook should become one of the most used cookbooks on your shelf, whether it’s for a quick supper for one or for entertaining your friends.
You get all the basics for wok-style cooking, from the seasonings and oils you should use and how to care for your pan. It also shows, through step-by-step recipes, just how versatile and healthy wok cooking can be, focusing on popular US versions of Asian and Chinese classics. From easy veg stir fry to sweet chili shrimp and the egg foo young, you also get a handy guide so you can choose meals to cook in less than 30 minutes or value dishes if you are on a budget.
Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono
Bring a little more umami into your life with this delicious and comforting selection of Japanese recipes to soothe your soul! Bringing together some of the best street food, Japanese Soul Cooking aims to introduce the reader to the hearty cooking of Japanese comfort food. With over 100 recipes of varying skill levels, you also get a wonderful overview of Japanese cooking techniques and the origins of the comfort food classics.
Ramen, tempura, gyoza, tonkatsu…all the mouth-watering essentials are there, with easy to follow instructions and delicious photography. And Japanese Soul Cooking also throws in some more unusual dishes to try – we particularly liked the wafu pasta and savory supper go-to!) And, as it is written for a US audience, there are no really obscure ingredients for most of the recipes but a clever core selection of grocery store buys.
The Chinese Takeout Cookbook by Diana Kuan
Chinese food is a delicious part of US cuisine and a favorite for quick and tasty fast food. And with this bright and engaging Chinese Takeout cookbook from Diana Kuan, you can throw out all those take-out menus and cook your own!Cooking Chinese takeout at home is not only healthier but also cheaper and not difficult to do. So, if you’re a Chinese cookery newbie, this could well be the Asian cookbook for you!
All the takeout classics are here, from sweet and sour pork to sesame chicken as well as some dishes that could well be new to your Chinese takeout repertoire. Luan takes you step-by-step through the recipes and also gives you the insider know-how on what to shop for and how to stock your pantry, so you are always Chinese takeout cookery ready. There’s also some excellent information on all the staple spices and ingredients, as well as how to keep your food fresh and what you can freeze. There are some mainstream takeout recipes missing, meaning there could well be some harder or unfamiliar dishes on offer, but this can be a good thing as you will learn new Asian cooking skills along the way.
Japanese Cooking Made Simple by Salinas Press
Fresh, savory and totally delicious, who doesn’t love ramen, bento or sushi and with this guide to Japanese cooking, it couldn’t be simpler to make your own! A New York Times bestseller, Japanese Cooking Made Simple from Salinas Press is the perfect introduction to the lighter dishes of the Asian cuisine.
With this effectively styled book, you get a good basic grounding in Japanese cuisine, its history and the main ingredients you need before setting you off on a cooking path to many of your favorite dishes. You get 100 authentic recipes to wow both your friends as well as your own tastebuds and most are uncomplicated and quick to do. Think delicious, flavor packed bento boxes, stunning sushi dishes and mouth-watering variations on ramen and noodles, with a balanced selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. The images could be a little better and there could be more of them, but the instructions are clear and easy to follow, for beginners and more experienced cooks alike.
Asian Paleo by ChihYu Smith
If you’re an Asian cuisine fan but don’t want to bust your low carb diet, then check out this delicious paleo twist on all your favorite dishes! Created by food blogger, ChihYu Smith, Asian Paleo reimagines Asian cuisine classics into recipes that are low carb but not low on delicious authentic Asian flavors or taste.
Inspired by Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cooking, the result is a mouth-watering collection of 75 recipes that are not going to sabotage your healthy eating or low-carb diet. From cook on the go, fast Asian food such as protein-packed egg drop soup and stir-fry with jumbo shrimp to more leisurely treats including coconut meatballs, you also get excellent guidance on how to batch cook Asian Paleo to get ahead. Add in some tasty paleo-twist side dishes and a whole section dedicated to low-carb sauces and with Asian Paleo, while it could benefit from more specific nutritional information, we think you’re onto a carb-busting winner.
Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen
Perfect your Asian dumpling and savory-making skills with this in-depth guide to the best, including gyoza, spring rolls and samosas as well as some sweeter treats. With these recipes you get a dumpling-based tour of Asian cuisine, including Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and Philippine. The result is a deliciously niche Asian cookbook that looks as good as the food tastes!
Andrea Nguyen has created a culinary celebration of dough-based Asian food and whether you use this as an occasional dip-in cookbook or as a way to shake up your own Asian cooking, it’s easy to understand and use. While limited in number, the photos are stunning and you also get recipes for dough, pastry sheets and batters should you want to make it all from scratch. Delicious, authentic and totally worth the time and effort in the kitchen.
The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen by Laura B. Russell
Our best value choice is also a healthy alternative to Asian cuisine, with all the authentic recipes tailored to be totally gluten-free. Ideal if you are gluten-intolerant or are just wanting to cut back on wheat as part of a healthier diet, what impresses about this book is that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or the authentic Asian tastes.
Writer Laura Russell has done an impressive job in updating many of the Asian classics to the gluten-free life, including many of the traditionally wheat dependent dishes. She brings the usually off-limit recipes such as noodles, dumplings and soy-based sauces back onto the menu, with delicious gluten-free alternatives. And she manages to achieve the near impossible, with many of the recipes quick and easy to do on a budget. She also covers a wide range of cuisines – from Chinese and Japanese to Thai and Vietnamese – so you are really spoilt for gluten-free choice.
The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Soloman
Our Premium Pick is a delicious culinary journey around the best in Asian food that will whet the appetite of any home chef. First published in 1976, the iconic Complete Asian Cookbook has been fully updated and offers 800 – yes 800 – classic and modern Asian dishes from 15 countries, from India and Burma to Cambodia, Korea and Japan. The result is almost a travel-log of recipes that will capture both your imagination and your tastebuds!
While at the top end of our best Asian cookbooks review budget, this large volume is effectively aimed at the home cook, meaning it will become a staple go-to in your kitchen for years to come. All the recipes are pretty easy to follow, and you also get some nice introductions to how the dishes are locally prepared and served for some extra information and authentic flavor. And we really like the comprehensive glossary to demystify the more unusual ingredients and cooking terms. Whether you are a beginner or a more seasoned cook, there is more than enough in this book to keep you engaged and adding to your Asian cuisine repertoire.
Vietnamese Food Any Day by Andrea Nguyen
If Vietnamese food is your Asian cuisine go-to or you fancy trying a new cooking style, then check out this neat little cookbook from award-winning food writer, Andrea Nguyen. Vietnamese Food Any Day is a fresh take on Vietnamese cooking, simply tailored for the home kitchen or more novice cook. This book does what it says on the tin and the 80 recipes are pretty easy to follow, and the results are tas impressive.
This is Vietnamese cooking, US style so most of the ingredients are convenient to find and the flavors are tasty and authentic. From simple rice paper rolls and coconut rice to meat dishes and full-on banquets, this book makes learning the basics of Vietnamese cooking an enjoyable journey. And as a hot recipe tip – the Vietnamese coffee ice-cream is to die for!
The Asian Slow Cooker by Kelly Kwok
Who knew that Asian cooking is also suited to your slow cooking – and with this laid-back cookbook you’ll be crock-potting your favorite Asian meals like a slow cooker pro! With simple, healthy and tasty ingredients, authentic Asian flavors and a meal that is ready for you when you get home, there is a lot to like about this easy to use cookbook. It is aimed at the time-poor home chef, with some of the recipes needing five ingredients or less but that doesn’t mean you are going to slow cook out all that delicious Asian taste. There are also some non-slow cooker recipes for when you have little more time to spend in the kitchen
All the recipes are created to be one-pot wonders and cover spicy dishes, as well as noodles, vegetarian and rice, from a slow-cooked General Tsao’s Chicken and Pad Thai noodles to Tom Yum hot and sour soup. Healthy, comforting and totally delicious, send your slow cooker on its own culinary journey with this tasty little Asian cuisine recipe book.
Asian Instant Pot Cookbook by Henry Wilson
Our final Asian cookbook is another one-pot wonder and a good choice if you like to cook with a pressure cooker, instant pot or multi-cooker. This is a bright and enticing cookbook and with its step-by-step guide to each recipe is a breeze to use, even if you’re new to Asian cuisine.
Spanning over 12 Asian countries, Asian Instant Pot cookbook by Henry Wilson adapts some of the classic dishes for easy pot cooking, without sacrificing taste or flavor. Menus cover meat, fish and vegetarian, and include noodles, rice, soups, sauces and side dish recipes. The book also manages to squeeze in an Asian Keto recipe section if you are on a low-carb diet or looking to keep your lean body look without missing out on your favorite Asian takeaway style food. We think this book lives up to its one-pot claims and is a great way to add flavorsome and healthy Asian meals to your busy family’s diet.
Our Top Pick
Popular TV personality Gook Wan is behind our top pick Asian cookbook and as an accessible guide to delicious Chinese cooking at home, this book deserves to be our Best Choice. Gok Cooks Chinese is a handsome looking book that not only delivers easy to cook and healthy recipes but gives you a glimpse into Gok’s relationship with his family’s cuisine. The result is one of the best Asian cookbooks to use as an everyday go to that also stretches your repertoire when it comes to cooking tasty Chinese food for the whole family.