Every so often, readers will ask me what Asian cookbooks would I recommend. I would say that it just depends as there are so many Asian cookbooks, covering different ethnic cuisines and styles, ranging from traditional recipes to fusion. One caveat is that most Asian cookbooks will not have allergy aware substitutions so you will have to apply some of the Allergy Aware Asian Fare substitutions that I have shared to adapt the recipes to suit your needs. Updated post: minor edits for readability and added a few more favorite recommendations.
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Grace Young, Stir Fry Master
I have great admiration for Grace. Her writing is lovely, her stories touch my heart, and her recipes are exactly the way my mom, my aunts, my grandmother would make their dishes. She is the author of three cookbooks: The Breath of a Wok (affiliate) is a primer on how to select and properly use a wok with many recipes.
The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen (affiliate) captures the spirit and cultural beliefs expressed through Chinese cooking and personal stories. Even though they are memories of Grace, her mom, and grandmother, I learn a little something about myself and my family every time I read her cookbook. I highly recommend this book for American born Chinese, especially those from Cantonese families who grew up in San Francisco, who want to connect with another generation. Her third book, Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge (affiliate), is a collection of stir fry recipes and stories from all parts of Asia and the rest of the world.
Grace has been a tireless advocate for preserving Chinatowns in the US over the last few years and most recently received the 2022 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation. Congratulations, Grace!!!
Andrea Nguyen, Viet World Kitchen
I follow Andrea Nguyen on social media, read her blog, and have two of her cookbooks, Asian Dumplings (affiliate) and The Banh Mi Handbook (affiliate). I’ve been checking out Asian Dumplings from the library for years to read and to refer to study her dumpling making methods. I enjoy her thorough and analytical writing about food, ingredients, and methods. She speaks to my inner geekiness about cooking. I finally ordered a copy of Asian Dumplings when she published her Vietnamese sandwich cookbook, The Bahn Mi Handbook. It’s pretty amazing that she could fill an entire cookbook with basically sandwich recipes but she’s thorough and creative. Shortly after I ordered her books, my life has been consumed by home renovations and the cookbooks are stored in one of the remaining boxes that I need to unpack. She also has two other cookbooks about Vietnamese food and tofu.
Ming Tsai, East Meets West
If you prefer more familiar ingredients but want a little bit of Asian inspiration, you might enjoy Ming Tsai’s recipes which have an East meets West theme. He’s also notable for his food allergy restaurant protocol at his Boston area restaurants and for his food allergy related advocacy. Ming Tsai has written a few cookbooks, Blue Ginger, which might be well suited for those who enjoy fine dining and Simply Ming, which is more about simple techniques for East meets West cooking. I haven’t read Simply Ming One-Pot Meals yet, but I will definitely be on the look out for it as the recipes look very delicious and I love the simplicity of cooking everything in one pot.
Martin Yan, Yan Can Cook
I have to share that I grew up watching Martin Yan cook and entertain on his PBS television show “Yan Can Cook.” Many of his books are out of print now but you can check them out from the library or buy them used on Amazon. My favorite is my autographed copy of Martin Yan’s China. It’s a gorgeous cookbook that gives one an overview of regional Chinese cuisine. His recipes are written clearly and remind me of my family meals.
My family and I had a chance to meet him at a cooking demo and book signing, and we talked about his demonstration of how to relax a chicken for months. If you have a few minutes and want a good laugh, watch the video because we just need a little bit of lighthearted fun in our lives.
The Gluten Free Asian Kitchen by Laura B. Russell
I checked out The Gluten Free Asian Kitchen (affiliate) from the library, it’s a great collection of gluten free Asian recipes. Most of the recipes use naturally gluten free ingredients such as rice flour and adapt traditional recipes by using simple substitutions such as a gluten free tamari sauce instead of soy sauce as well as more complicated recipes which adapt wheat based recipes into gluten free ones. I think that they are clearly written and stay true to traditional methods. Some of the recipes might require some adaptations be nut free, dairy free, soy free, etc.. When I first read the cookbook, our family didn’t have any gluten intolerance so I didn’t try the recipes.
Discovering Korean Cuisine: Recipes from the Best Korean Restaurants in Los Angeles
When my children were little and before our life with food allergies began, I would introduce new flavors and ingredients with tasty and tempting restaurant foods. I am not as familiar with Korean cuisine and we avoided Korean restaurants for awhile when my son used to be allergic to sesame. This cookbook is collection of recipes of favorite recipes from the best Korean restaurants in Los Angeles and one of the reasons I love it is that I learned a lot about typical ingredients found in Korean cuisine, which dishes contain nuts, and what are they called in Korean. The information helps me to understand a Korean menu while dining out or an ingredient list when grocery shopping. This book might be out of print now but you can find it at libraries or apply the same ideas to other popular Korean cookbooks.
Williams-Sonoma: Food Made Fast (Asian)
I love Williams-Sonoma cookbooks. Their recipes are always high quality and well written. They turn out exactly the way one would expect. I enjoy the Williams-Sonoma: Food Made Fast series (affiliate link) as the recipes are easy, fast, and simple but still taste good. I highly recommend this cookbook for those who are learning to cook for themselves and are interested in making Asian foods using ingredients that are available in most supermarkets.
Dim Sum: the Art of Chinese Tea Lunch by Ellen Blonder
I love Ellen Blonder’s dim sum cookbook (affiliate). It’s beautifully illustrated with her watercolor drawings and she shares stories that are so familiar to me. She’s also author of another cookbook, Every Grain of Rice, which has homestyle recipes that I grew up with and love so much. Every Grain of Rice is out of print and sometimes used copies sell for an exorbitant amount. I wish I bought a copy when I had a chance.
The Nom Wah Cookbook by Wilson Tang
The Nom Wah Cookbook was published in 2020 when everyone was at home cooking and few people were able to dine out. And if you know me, you know I love dim sum and cheung fun (rice rolls). I reviewed the cookbook and shared a shrimp rice noodle roll recipe aka ha cheung. The restaurant is so iconic and I’m so glad they shared their recipes.
Chinese Instant Pot Cookbook by Sharon Wong
I have such enormous respect and admiration for all of the chefs, restaurant owners, and cookbook authors I have shared with you in this post. I’m not nearly as amazing as they are but I love being the Asian food allergy mom Rosetta Stone helping to make Asian food recipes easier to access with simple substitutions, hacks, and out of the (instant) pot ideas. If you haven’t heard about my cookbook, you can read about it or try a free recipe from the cookbook.
I tend to like Asian cookbooks with some stories about their families and traditions. I like cookbooks which stay true to traditional cooking methods from which to make allergy related substitutions so that I don’t end up with something random. But it’s also fine to have some fun and create Asian inspired meals. What are your favorite Asian cuisines and cookbooks?
Related reading: Favorite Food Allergy Books
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I like Fuschia Dunlop’s books. She was the first woman to study as chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. I went to amazon to link to the book I have, and it’s only selling used from $94. I would be happy to sell it for $90 LOL! But, she has other books that are not out of print. One, I got from the library, http://www.amazon.com/Sharks-Fin-Sichuan-Pepper-Sweet-Sour/dp/0393332888/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 , but it is a memoir not a cookbook. It was what prompted me to get one of her cookbooks.
I’ve seen some of her cookbooks at the library too but I didn’t look carefully. I will have to check her out again and thanks for your offer to sell your book for $90. You’re too funny, Holly! LOL <3
Great cook book suggestions! Thanks.
You’re welcome, I hope you find something inspiring!
Great recommendations! I’ve been really pleased with Williams Sonoma’s recipes, so I would love the Fast Made Asian cookbook.
Thanks, the WS Fast Made series is my favorite. 🙂
I bet I would love the Ming Tsai book. I’ve followed him on various cooking shows through the years. He has a restaurant here in Massachusetts too. Thanks for the recommendations.
I love cookbooks, thanks for the great suggestions! We love Ming Tsai’s restaurant, Blue Ginger, so I bet I would love his cookbooks too, I will have to check them out.
Joy, you are so lucky you live near one of his restaurants. I want to try next time we are in Boston! 🙂
I LOVE this post Sharon! I’m a big fan of Asian food, but really need to expand what I cook. That Ming Tsai cookbook is now tops on my list, but the others sound great, too.
I’m so glad you love this post, Alisa! I love cookbooks. 🙂