Book review: The Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure

Bikers coverSi King and Dave Myers: The Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure
BBC / Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2014, 319 pp
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There are plenty of Asian cookery books out there, but I can’t think of a western recipe book that focuses on Korean cuisine. The Korean cookery books that are in my own library are written by Koreans. They are probably highly authentic, but have complicated-looking recipes and aren’t presented in a user friendly way. As a result, I have never used them.

So what a relief it is to have some unintimidating recipes from those cuddly bikers, Si King and Dave Myers. The book of their Asian Adventure TV series covers Hong Kong; different regions of Thailand; Tokyo and rural Japan; and of course Korea. And in Korea, they cover a range of favourite dishes in a manner that makes you simply want to try them out. They don’t compromise on ingredients: gochujang is a must, plus gochugaru and anchovy sauce, and they give a list of stores where you can get them. But their presentation style gives you confidence that all these dishes are easily achievable.

They kick off the Korean section with probably the most unpretentious recipe of all: Budae jjigae. The instructions last for only nine lines, of which the last two are:

Serve this from the pan at the table with some rice, if you like, or even a big bowl of chips.

(That’s french fries for those of you who don’t speak British English). Hmmm. Budae jjigae and chips. I wonder if that would really work? Worth a try.

There are recipes for most of your favourite dishes such as bibimbap, kimchi jeon, bulgogi, samgyeopsal, mandu, yukhoe, tteokguk and ojingeo bokkeum, plus one or two more which are aren’t so familiar. They admit that their kimchi is not authentic …

We know our kimchi-quick isn’t the real thing but it tastes good so give it a try – and we hope it doesn’t offend the people of Korea.

… but it looks much less of a faff, and much less messy, than doing it properly. An excellent compromise and I certainly will give it a try.

Puddings / desserts are always a problem with Asian cuisine. Westerners demand them at the end of their meals, but there’s not so much of a tradition in Asian cuisine. To bridge that gap the bikers have had to come up with a whole host of pan-Asian fusion recipes, all of which look gorgeous. There’s one which has Korean heritage: a rather naughty-looking red bean cheesecake.

There are plenty of colour photos, and in total there are over 100 recipes from across Asia. This could be the book that gets people cooking Korean at home.

Links:

The Korean episode of the BBC series will be screening on 20 March at 8pm on BBC2.

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