Balance & Harmony

Neil Perry

ISBN: 9781740459082

Publisher: Murdoch Books Australia

Neil Perry is an amazing chef with a passion for Asian food. His restaurant Rockpool in Sydney's Rocks is one of my favourite restaurants, so I was keen to review his latest book. Balance and Harmony is like an Asian cookery lesson, giving the reader the building blocks to prepare Asian dishes confidently for friends and family. The book begins with an introduction to Asian equipment and ingredients, takes us then through some basic, but tasty, recipes and then finally on to more complex ones.

The first chapter includes the basics and simple recipes that demonstrate Asian cookery techniques: Stir frying, steaming, braising and deep-frying. Simple is far from boring though with dishes including the silky classic "White Cut Chicken", one of my very favourite Thai dishes "Spicy Beef Salad" and " Tea- & Spice - Smoked Duck" for something a little different. The second chapter includes more complicated recipes for those who have mastered the basics, allowing a much broader repertoire of recipes. For tasters an impressive "Grilled Lobster with Tamarind", warming "Sichuan Spicy Beef Hot Pot" or how about "Stir-Fried Mushrooms with White Asparagus and Coriander" is far from mundane.

The dishes in this book are all designed to be part of shared table, a selection which create a balanced meal for family and friends. The first section of the book has helpful menus for a meal shared with family and friends, while the second includes selection is for a far more grand affair with banqueting menus. An emphasis is put on the harmony and balance of the dish selection, the chosen dishes should be varied and complimentary to each other e.g. stir-fried, braised, steamed, dry and wet, beef, vegetable and fish, and so on.

Neil Perry has successfully put together a cookbook for the experienced and novice alike. Beautifully presented and well written this book offers a very different approach to Asian cuisine. Well worth purchasing for those fascinated by East Asian cuisine but don't know where to start and those who just want to extend their knowledge and looking for new ideas.