The diversity and deliciousness of Asian cuisine can’t be contained in a few cookbooks—but these modern classics are a great place to start.
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stack of Asian cuisine cookbooks
Looking for a New Year's project? Turn a cookbook into a class by cooking your way through it!
| Credit: Caitlin Bensel

The largest continent on Earth, Asia comprises more than 48 countries, from China to India and Saudi Arabia to Uzbekistan and beyond, each with its own vast and dazzlingly diverse history. So it goes without saying that to distill the food of this chunk of the world into a short list of cookbooks is an impossible task. With that in mind, for this lineup (as in Sweet, Spicy, Briny, Bright on page 76), we've narrowed the focus to Southeast and East Asia, and even then, plenty of treasures didn't make the cut. Hopefully these books will whet your appetite for learning more—and inspire you to get cooking!

Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes

By Robin Ha

Equal parts fun and informative, Cook Korean! teaches readers the foundations of Korean food through illustrated characters, like winking chiles and playful radishes. With recipes ranging from hotteok (brown sugar pancakes) to tteokguk (New Year's rice cake soup), Ha strikes a nice balance between street food favorites and beloved classics. And her step-by-step illustrations make recreating the dishes feel doable no matter where you are in your cooking journey.

A Taste of Aloha: A Collection of Recipes from the Junior League of Honolulu

Thanks to waves of immigration stretching back to the 1800s, Hawaii now has more citizens of Asian descent than any other state in U.S. This collection of cherished recipes from the Junior League of Honolulu includes recipes like Chinese oxtail soup and adzuki bean sundaes, which showcase the island's modern melting pot, as well as traditional Hawaiian dishes like luau and poi. A beautiful tribute to the people and dishes that make Hawaii what it is today.

Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking

By Fuchsia Dunlop

After enjoying a transformative farmhouse meal near Hangzhou, China, English food writer Fuchsia Dunlop realized that many Westerners are not familiar with the balanced home cooking that has been common in China for centuries. Every Grain of Rice is Dunlop's attempt to change that, through simple but delicious recipes that any home cook can make, such as suan la dou hua (sour-and-hot silken tofu), bo bo cai xin (stir-fried chopped choy sum), and hong you chao shou (Sichuanese wontons). These staples are sure to become favorites in your kitchen too.

Stir-frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories

By Grace Young

In a hot, well-seasoned wok, dull meat is transformed into caramelized bites and veggies turn bright and juicy. With a mix of dishes from across China and fusion recipes such as jerk-chicken fried rice, Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge shows you how the magic happens. The title is based on an old maxim, "one wok runs to the sky's edge"—meaning that once you learn to stir-fry, the sky's the limit.

Coconut & Sambal

By Lara Lee

Japanese sushi and Chinese Peking duck have been a part of American food culture for decades, but until recently, many Southeast Asian countries have been left out of the mainstream conversation. Lara Lee's Coconut & Sambal sets out to rectify that. Focusing on Indonesian dishes like gado-gado, Acehnese lamb curry, and beef rendang, the book teaches readers about the diversity of the 17,508 islands that make up Indonesia—through the lens of super-craveworthy food.

To Asia, with Love

By Hetty McKinnon

Like a sweet letter to a loved one, Hetty McKinnon's To Asia, with Love is filled with memories, heart, and so much warmth. Alongside creative, family-friendly vegetarian recipes like black-pepper brussels sprouts with cold silken tofu and sheet-pan chow mein, McKinnon shares her personal story of growing up Chinese in Australia and how food helped her bridge the gap between cultures. The result is a fresh and very modern take on Asian cooking—and page after page of dishes you'll want to eat immediately. Another sweet detail? Every photograph in the book was taken by Hetty herself, which gives you the feeling that you're right there at the table with her.

This article originally appeared in our Winter/Spring 2022 issue. Get the magazine here.