Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Asian Cookbook Gifts for the Holidays from Minnesota Authors

by Phyllis Louise Harris
December 2013

Minnesota is home to thousands of Asian cooks, chefs and home cooks who have made their traditional cooking a part of our culture. A few wrote cookbooks to provide cooks with traditional dishes that can be made in everyone’s kitchen. Surprise someone on your list with cookbooks that capture the flavors of the Asia Pacific Rim. Here are just a few available in bookstores and at

Raghavan Iyer’s Indian Cooking Unfolded published this fall by Workman Publishing Inc.
Raghavan just returned from a 40-city tour of the U.S. and Canada where his fans lined up to get his newest cookbook. Indian Cooking Unfolded features 100 easy recipes using 10 ingredients or less so even beginning cooks will find Indian cooking truly a pleasure. The seven fold-out cooking lessons make things even easier. He will be making another book signing appearance and tasting December 20 at Kitchen in the Market in Minneapolis. For details call 612-568-5486.

Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875 published last fall by the Minnesota Historical Society Press
This one-of-a-kind cookbook went on to be the basis for the EMMY® winning television show “Asian Flavors” produced by Twin Cities Public Television and now available for viewing on their TPT MN channel reaching all parts of Minnesota. I created the book to bring together stories about a few of the many Asia Pacific Minnesotans who have enhanced our culinary experiences. Raghavan was included in the book and contributed four chapters of additional stories.

Wing Ying Huie and his father Joe Huie brought their Chinese home cooking to Duluth through their popular restaurants. David Fong was the first to bring Chinese food to Bloomington and after 55 years he and his family continue treating Minnesota diners at David Fong’s Chinese Restaurant in Bloomington, his daughter Amy’s Fong’s Restaurant and Bar in Prior Lake and his son David, Jr.’s D Fong’s Chinese Cuisine in Savage. Leeann Chin created the areas’ largest and most recognized chain of Chinese restaurants. Reiko Weston opened Fujiya, the first Japanese restaurant in the state and Supenn Harrison introduced residents to Thai egg rolls at the 1976 Minnesota State Fair, then went on to create the chain of Sawatdee Thai restaurants. Home cooks also shared their traditional dishes with friends and neighbors including Mena-li Canalas and Abe Malicsi who share their Filipino food traditions with nearly everyone they meet. The Minnesota Hmong community has brought a wealth of new flavors to this land they now call home. The book includes their stories and recipes, and dozens more.

Asian Flavors also includes more than 160 recipes from more than 14 Pacific Rim countries, a historical timeline of the growth of Asian food in Minnesota and gorgeous four-color photography by Tom Nelson. It is an ideal gift for the history buff, anyone who likes to read about people, and cooks who want to try some of the many dishes now a part of Minnesota’s heritage. Even if I did write it, Asian Flavors is truly special!

Crying Tiger: Thai Recipes from the Heart by Supatra Johnson published in 2004
It does not need to be a new book to be important. When Supatra published the recipes of her homeland, Thailand, she created a book that gives readers a tour of the country and a wonderful collection of recipes. At ACAI we used it to teach Thai cooking to a group of food scientists. Some of the favorites of the class were Pad Thai, Pork with Peanut Curry Sauce, Steamed Walleye with Vegetables and Pumpkin Coconut Soup. All easy to make and all delicious! Supatra and her husband Randy own and operate Supatra’s Thai Restaurant in St. Paul where she is the chef offering a wide variety of Thai dishes. She also offers Thai cooking classes. For a copy of Crying Tiger and a wealth of information about Thai food visit their website at Or visit the restaurant at 967 West Seventh Street.

Everyday Chinese Cooking by Leeann Chin and Katie Chin published in 2000 by Clarkson Potter Publishers
This oldie but goodie was created by the legendary Leeann Chin and her daughter Katie to offer readers simple Chinese recipes for fun, family cooking. It is still a treasure of flavorful dishes that any home cook can create. Diners will recognize many of the dishes served in the Leeann Chin restaurants even today. For chow mein lovers, it includes Canton-style Chicken Chow Mein that is made with chicken, snow peas, shitake mushrooms, and bean sprouts flavored with fresh ginger and oyster sauce: not a stick of celery in sight. With more than 150 easy-to-follow recipes, Everyday Chinese Cooking is an ageless gift that keeps on giving.

Or pick up a copy of Katie’s newest cookbook Everyday Thai Cooking published this fall by Tuttle Publishing. She dedicates the book “For my late mother Leeann Chin, an amazing chef and teacher who continues to inspire me everyday.” Clearly Katie also loves Thai cooking, so much so that her husband took her on a trip through Thailand for their honeymoon. Now living in California with her husband and children, Katie continues to refer to her Minnesota roots and her mother’s amazing food. Everyday Thai Cooking is a beautiful, colorful cookbook that is as much fun to read as to use.

These are just a few of the wonderful Asian cookbooks by Minnesota authors that are great for gift giving or just to enjoy yourself. Happy holidays!!


Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, in bookstores and on
Buy online: 
Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875 

Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at