Food & Drink

Book Review: Cooking Without Borders

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True to its title, Cooking Without Borders: Defining Eurasian Cuisine, this superb 160-page cookbook artfully blends the cuisines and cooking techniques of both Europe and Asia. Written by Eurasian chef Jeanne Pereira, the book honours her own heritage and celebrates her love of food and spices.

With photography by Yong Chong Soon and Soo Ho Hock Meng, this large hardcover book is replete with gorgeous food photos accompanying every recipe. Drawing heavily on Portuguese influences, many of the recipes infuse the cuisine of that seafaring nation with traditional Malaysian dishes and spices. Some of the dishes are true to one or the other, many are a delightful fusion. From the distinctly Western Pot Roast Beef or Sweet Pork Ribs to the Asian Sambal Nenas (a Malaysian-style Pineapple Salsa) and Sambal Udang Kering, with its pungent combination of shrimp paste, dried prawns, and tamarind, every page is a surprise.

Some recipes are naturally more complex than others, but there are plenty of dishes the typical home cook will be eager to try, and they’re fairly simple and straightforward recipes, relying heavily on fresh ingredients and plenty of regional spices.

Desserts have a special section and here, too, the range from West to East is on full display, from a basic but elegant crème brûlée to the beloved mango pudding. One of Portugal’s most famed exports in Malaysia is the incredibly popular Portuguese egg tart, which surprisingly is not included in the book. However, everything from pineapple tarts and curry puffs to sago gula Melaka and pulut hitam (black sticky rice) is readily at hand for the aspiring pastry chef to tackle.

Cooking Without Borders has a wonderful prelude comprising a line-up of family history, anecdotes, and even some of the author’s secret recipes and spice mixes, passed down over several generations in her family. From there, the recipes come in, and a procession of courses follows over the next 140 pages with over 60 recipes: appetizers, desserts, snacks, mains (beef, mutton, chicken, pork, and seafood, each meat with its own section), rice and noodles, soups, and vegetables. (You know Malaysians were involved with this book because the desserts and cakes come before the mains!)

If you’re at all interested in cooking during your time in Malaysia, be sure to seek out Cooking Without Borders in the bookstores. With its fresh fusion approach to the cuisines of Europe and Asia, with special nods to Portugal and Malaysia, this is one cookbook you’d do well to have in your kitchen.

Source: The Expat December 2013

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