Kitchen confidence starts with a simple but delicious recipe. This can sometimes determine the destiny of a person in the kitchen. Having said this, one can say that cookbooks are crucial.
But not all cookbooks are good.
Entering a book store always leads me to the cookbook section. The ones I usually stay away from are those that claim to have the recipe of a popular dish in some fancy restaurant. Chances are, that recipe is a fluke and cooking it usually
results in a dish that tastes far from what it claimed it would deliver.
What do I look for in a good cookbook? I like the recipes to be uncomplicated, with precise measurements, easy-to-find ingredients, the instructions clear and, most of all, I can imagine that the dishes will be delicious. If all it takes is a mere adjustment of the seasoning, I still classify that as a winner.
I have come across a few good local cookbooks. “Philippine Cookery” by chef Tatung Sarthou has descriptions of various cooking methods, different types of local soups, barbecues, a variety of sawsawan, recipes for kinilaw and atchara, several ways of cooking with gata, the different varieties of suka, methods of roasting meats.
All of his recipes are essentially Pinoy from different parts of the country, plus popular dishes like sinigang, adobo, etc. The recipes come with precise measurements and easy steps. It also provides background and history to many of the dishes.
Another interesting cookbook is the one written by chefs Glenda Barrretto, Conrad Calalang, Margarita Fores, Myrna Segismundo, Jessie Sincioco and Claude Tayag.
Called “Kulinarya,” it is a coffee-table book that features the country’s most popular Filipino dishes. Contents include souring agents from fruits and leaves that are used in dishes like sinigang, etc.
The book is divided into Pulutan, Sabaw, Gulay at Ensalada, Ulam, Adobo, Pancit, Merienda, Minatamis, and a lot of information about Philippine cooking. The outstanding photos are done by long-time Philippine resident, new restaurant owner and exceptional photographer Neal Oshima.
Among the food magazines I like is Appetite magazine. The monthly magazine has interesting food topics and dependable recipes. This has become another source of new dish ideas or food I would like to learn to cook.
It recently came out with a cookbook called “Cooking with Appetite,” featuring 100 global and Pinoy recipes with precise measurements and simple steps, and ingredients that are readily available.
The author of this magazine is my sister Nina Daza Puyat. Before you accuse me of bias, I suggest you have a look at the book first.
Tip: After cooking the dish, always taste the finished product to check if you want to adjust the seasoning. Make that a habit.
There are not that many good cookbooks out there. I can vouch for these three. If I may also add, a newer version of my own cookbook, “Cooking With Sandy,” will be out soon. Abangan!