judging the judge

I’m looking forward to episode two of Top Chef Masters. While watching the first episode last week, I remembered judge James Oseland, editor of Saveur magazine, had once given me a copy of his cookbook, Cradle of Flavor.

I’m a little embarrassed to say I hadn’t tried cooking from it yet, so last weekend seemed like a good time to start. The book features recipes from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, so I stopped by my local Vietnamese market to stock up on some of the less-than-common ingredients in the book. I settled on a dish called Mee Goren Tauceo, or Stir-Fried Chinese Egg Noodles with Shrimp and Asian Greens. One thing I’ve learned about cooking Asian food is that you have to be a little bit flexible. Fortunately Oseland gives handy options, like substituting dried noodles for fresh, and a few choices of veggies.

I tweaked the portions a bit, because I really like shrimp — there they are above, cooking in peanut oil, garlic, and soybean paste. After you stir-fry the greens, you add a mixture of water, double-black soy sauce, and salt. I experimented a little bit at this stage with some great results. (I’d say, “Don’t tell Oseland,” but I think he’s stopped by my blog before.)

This is one of my new favorite recipes, but I have a funny feeling I’ll make it differently every time I try it. I’ve got most of the ingredients now to make the Char Kuey Teow next. For the record, this entire review is biased — James Oseland is a cool guy, and the fact that he gave me a copy of the book means you probably shouldn’t take my word for how good it is. But if you’re an adventurous cook, I’d highly recommend this one.

55 thoughts on “judging the judge

  1. chef fresco: thanks for stopping byjenn: right, I don't think he'd mind any tweakingkrista: definitely check out this bookpeachkins: thanks

  2. oooh, Malaysian food – I would be a good judge of that (was born in Malaysia!) Nice job on this dish. Can't wait to see how the char kueh teow turns out (is there belacan or blachan in the recipe? – make sure you open all the windows!)Also looking forward to tonight's Top Chef masters!

  3. dragon: thanksmamafami: thanks to you toopigpigscorner: yeah, except his recipe for this dish had egg noodles and his recipe for the char kuey teow has rice noodles. then again, with all the sauce, I bet they will look pretty similar.phyllis: yes, then you would definitely be the right person to judge this. yes, the char kuey teow has the shrimp paste in it. should be good.pearl: thanks

  4. "This entire review is biased . . ." Not at all – I love 'Cradle of Flavor' not only for it's amazing recipes but also for the incredible background information and Oseland's own anecdotes about these cuisines. It really is a great book that I'd encourage anyone to pick up. Your dish looks excellent!

  5. I've always enjoyed Oselands intros in Saveur…haven't seen his cookbook, though now that you mention it, seems like I vaguely remember a mention of it. This looks absolutely delicious…the picture of the shrimp in the pan w/ the liquids is enough to get me drooling. Great job with your version…bet he would be pretty okay w/ it, too.

  6. lisa: it's a hardcore intro if you're new to asian cooking. for a beginner book, I'd highly recommend one I just worked on — Helen's Asian Kitchen Easy Chinese Stir-Fries.lisa is cooking: it's interesting how many more types of soy sauce there are out there, when you go to specialty markets.kalaivani: thankstangled noodle: ha, thanks, but all I meant was that he gave it to me personally, so you can't really trust my opinion. It's like when restaurant reviewers go to a restaurant and are recognized and/or and get free food… then the "review" has been compromised. It's always ethical to admit those kinds of things.girlichef: you should definitely try to check this book out

  7. YUM that looks amazing. I am saving this post immediately. I also can't wait for tonight's episode–looks like it will be a good match up. Got my tv on bravo all ready to go! Thanks for the lovely pictures and recipe as usual.-Whitney

  8. michelle: there are definitely recipes in this book you could cook in a more healthy way, depending on your personal taste. it might be a good one to try out.whitney: thanks for stopping by. I just watched the 2nd episode and I really enjoyed it.

  9. Now I am tempted to buy the book. I saw it before, but it didn't grab me. Now that you mentioned it, I might have to buy it. I am also curious how's the Indonesian recipes feature in this book.

  10. pandalicous: i guess it's good i didn't post any spoilers for west coast people reading my blogelra: i'll definitely post more if I test other recipes from the book. thanks for visiting.

  11. hey! the dish looks amazing! i love your blog, and i gave you an award on mine, snatch it! i think you showcase a lot of different things around NYC 🙂

  12. I think I'll have to get a copy of this book – we don't really get much news of North American media in Germany 😦 I was in Malaysia earlier this year & loved it. The plan is to go back and take some cooking classes…

  13. I've now been back to your blog three times now to drool over this dish. I like someone with a healthy appreciation for shrimp – good to see you didn't skimp!

  14. That's final I'll just judge the book by your photo of this dish! YUM! I especially love the photo of the shrimp frying, mouthwatering!~ingrid

  15. Great looking recipe. I'm really into black bean/soy sauce right now, and have been buying massive amounts of shrimp (is that an oxymoron?), so this dish looks like it's just asking me to cook it.

  16. cucinista: thanks for stopping by. note this kind of bean paste is really different than black bean, and this kind of soy sauce is really different than regular soy sauce. you have to do a little searching for most of the ingredients in this book.

  17. Well, I have some noodles and some shrimp and some bok choy in the fridge that I bought from the market. Seems like this dish is in order. I have to check this book out.

  18. i lovelovelove char kuay teow! haha. we usually dont cook this at home cos you can get them pretty cheaply at hawker centres and the fact that they taste like 10 times more amazing than homemade helps i guess?:)

  19. chocolate cup: well, I made that dish last night and will write about it soon. it's hard for me to imagine it tasting better if I got it at a restaurant, but it was definitely quite a bit of effort. i'm not sure what hawker centers is.

  20. That dish looks great!Btw, I definitely liked the second episode of Top Chef Masters better than the first….but I still miss the "normal" Top Chef.

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