On Winning Saba: The (best Asian) Cookbook (in the World!!)

Well now, when I launched my first ever competition on the blog just over a week ago, asking readers to name their favourite Asian recipe, little did I know that the prize, Saba: The Cookbook, would win the Gourmand Award for the Best Asian Cookbook in the world on the same night that my little competition closed. What a fantastic and well-deserved honour for a self-published cookbook, the proceeds of which go to two very good causes – The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin and the Thai Red Cross Society. And what better proof of the power of a cookbook that tells a story and conveys in a warm and compelling way the passion, commitment and love of what they do that goes into making Saba a success. I’d say there were a fair few Dragon’s Tail Cocktails drunk over the weekend…

Congratulations Saba!

Hmm, no pressure in picking the winners so with so many lovely recipes to choose from.

Picking the first winner was easy. I just sent Derry off with a spread sheet list of entries and a random number generator and stayed out of the way until his foolproof system spewed out a winner. And it did. Our daughter Claire in Sydney who is a keen Asian cook. Yes, well that wouldn’t look too good would it. So I sighed, and made a mental note to pick up a spare copy of the book to send to her, and sent Derry off to try again.
So the first official winner of  the Saba Cookbook is food blogger Babaduck. Congratulations Aoife and the book is on its way to you.
Aoife sent in a lovely recipe for Asian Pork Lettuce Cups based on a Donal Skehan take on Yuk Sung. Aoife says it works really well with minced turkey as well, and it’s one that most of  her friends have made. You will find her recipe here. Donal himself  has great range of Asian recipes and some of the best food photography on the web. He is well worth following on social media.
Now picking the second winner from the remaining entries was a whole other story. I had decided to give a second prize to the recipe I liked best from those put forward, a purely subjective judgement. The first thing that struck me about the responses was how relatively few Chinese recipes were mentioned and the second was how popular South East Asian food, particularly Vietnamese, is among my readers.
The varied responses got me thinking about other Asian recipes I want to try. My favourites among the suggestions I received were:

  • Cha ca which Lucy Spenceley in Australia describes as a delicous combination of fried white fish with tumeric, dill and spring onions, the nuoc cham dipping sauce that accompanies it providing a spicy contrast. This is a Vietnamese recipe from Rick’s Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey which has just gone on to my Amazon wish list.
  • Muc Rang Muoi (Salt and Pepper Squid) which Mark Kinsella and Leo O’Shaugnessy both separately recalled with pleasure from The Red Lantern in Sydney, and guess what guys, I get to dine there in a couple of weeks 🙂 For the rest of you I’m told by Mark that Saba do an excellent version and there’s a Chinese take on the dish here on this blog.
  • Amok, a mild curry from Camboida, with coconut milk and galangal and usually made with fish but equally good with chicken. This was suggested by food blogger Bumbles of Rice – the recipe is in  South East Asian Food.
  • Pad Thai which was mentioned several times but I particularly liked this recipe from food blogger Canal Cook who says she really likes the strange sugary-sour taste you get from the tamarind.
  • Vietnamese rice paper rolls put forward by food blogger The Silver Chicken who says they are a delicious starter, so light fresh and fragrant. I will be trying this recipe for them which David found on allrecipes.com.au.

But the recipe I liked best was for Quick Tom Yum soup from blogger Fab Food 4 All in the UK.

Fab Food 4 All: Tom Yum Soup

I was immediately drawn to this recipe which Camilla has adapted to include optional noodles and a poached egg. I love the fact that this spicy soup can be made in just 5 minutes with prawns, plum tomatoes, Tom Yum soup paste, mushrooms and noodles. The addition of the poached egg really appeals to me. This dish respects the principles that Chinese cooks adhere to – the harmonious balance of flavours, colours, aromas and textures. This is fast food at its most nourishing and its best. You can read the full recipe here on Camilla’s blog.
So the 2nd winner of Saba: The Cookbook is blogger Fab Food 4 All. Congratulations Camilla and enjoy the book which is winging its way to you. I hope it will inspire you to more interesting adaptations of Thai and Vietnamese recipes.
And to the rest of you, thank you so much for joining in the fun and don’t forget that copies of Saba’s wonderful cookbook are available on line from Saba, direct from the restaurant or in good book shops for €30 with the procceds all going to two very good causes.