We have the Asian diaspora to thank for so many of our favourite foods – from okonomiyaki to chow mein to tteokbokki to samosas, the list is never-ending. Celebrating Asian excellence is something we strive to do every day at Food Network Canada, which is why we’ve rounded up some of our favourite cookbooks by Asian authors. Trust us, you’re going to want to add these to your bookshelf! These chefs and authors draw inspiration from a wide range of Asian backgrounds and contemporary influences, from veganism to farm life.
Authors note: This list is just a starting point for some of our favourite cookbooks by Asian chefs and authors across the Asian diaspora, and while it is by no means exhaustive, it serves as a reminder of the influence of Asian cooking, now and always.
The Double Happiness Cookbook by Trevor Lui
Renowned Toronto chef Trevor Lui’s debut cookbook features 88 feel-good, Asian-inspired recipes (it’s no coincidence that 88 is an auspicious number in Chinese culture – the book also features eight essays from Trevor on navigating his life through food). With recipes for classic dishes like Tea Eggs and Shanghai Noodles alongside inventive takes on classic Asian dishes like Bulgogi Beef Tostadas and Ramen with L.A. Kalbi, one thing’s for certain: this book will make you hungry.
Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady
Acclaimed Canadian chef (and Wall of Chefs chef!) Tara O’Brady’s debut cookbook made waves when it was released in 2015, and we still find ourselves reaching for it years later. Not only is the writing exceptional, but it might just feature the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever (yes, really). Other highlights include Roasted Carrots with Harissa Aïoli and Dukkah, Plum Macaroon Cake, plus recipes that pay tribute to Tara’s Indian heritage, including Chaat Tostadas and Everyday Yellow Dal.
Korean American by Eric Kim
New York Times staff writer Eric Kim’s debut cookbook is a thoughtful homage to his Korean-American upbringing in Atlanta. Korean pantry essentials meet American classics with recipes like Gochugaru Shrimp and Grits, Smashed Potatoes with Roasted-Seaweed Sour Cream Dip, while Korean and American comfort foods are mashed up to seriously delicious results with Cheeseburger Kimbap and Crispy Lemon-Pepper Bulgogi with Quick-Pickled Shallots. The mouthwatering recipes are interspersed with insightful, touching essays on the Korean American experience, from what Thanksgiving means to a first-generation family to how the author found acceptance, strength, and the confidence to own his story through cooking and food.
Kiin by Nuit Regular
If you’re a fan of Thai food, this stunning collection of authentic recipes from Toronto’s Chef Nuit Regular needs to be added to your bookshelf ASAP. Inspired by Nuit’s upbringing in Northern Thailand, the book celebrates Northern Thai traditions and flavours, with each colourful, vibrant recipe designed to be enjoyed family-style. From Steamed Chicken Dumplings to Papaya Salad to Mango Sticky Rice, you’ll no doubt be inspired to cook a Northern Thai feast for your nearest and dearest.
Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown by Brandon Jew and Tienlon Ho
Who better to learn the art of Chinese cuisine from than a Michelin-starred chef? In this cookbook, chef Brandon Jew tells an intimate story of how Chinese food became American food and details his journey to become a renowned Chinese American chef. Classic Chinatown dishes are reimagined with recipes like Squid Ink Wontons, Liberty Roast Duck, and Banana Black Sesame Pie, with fundamentals of Chinese cooking woven throughout, along with history on the origins of Chinatown. It’s a beautiful homage to the neighbourhood that changed the flavour of America.
The Korean Vegan Cookbook by Joanne Lee Molinaro
There’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Joanne Lee Molinaro, AKA The Korean Vegan. Currently, her TikTok and Instagram accounts boast over 3+ million followers. On social media, she shares her personal, moving and sometimes heart-wrenching stories and mouthwatering recipes that paint a rich portrait of the Korean-American immigrant experience. Within the cookbook, Joanne unpacks how so many classic Korean ingredients are actually plant-based, from gochujang (chili sauce) to doenjang (fermented soybean paste) and more. With recipes for classic Korean dishes like Jjajangmyun (Korean-Chinese black bean noodles) and a modern approach to recipes like the Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake that pays homage to the two foods that saved her mother’s life after she fled from North Korea, it’s a powerful read that will reframe how you think of Korean plant-based eating.
To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon
Just as the title suggests, this cookbook is a love letter to the Asian cooking that Hetty McKinnon grew up surrounded by. From how to stock a modern Asian pantry to learning about the wonders of rice, Hetty skillfully illustrates how to incorporate Asian ingredients and cooking techniques into a modern North American kitchen. From the basics on how to make your own kimchi, chili oil, knife-cut noodles and dumplings, to less traditional recipes for Finger-lickin’ Good Edamame Beans with Fried Curry Leaves and Tamarind Apple Crisp, this vegetarian book is a delightful foundation for Asian vegetarian cooking.
Mooncakes and Milk Bread by Kristina Cho
Want to try your hand at making your favourite Chinese baked goods at home? Look no further than Kristina Cho’s masterful Mooncakes and Milkbread, featuring detailed recipes everything from Egg Tarts to Pineapple Buns and even Pork Floss and Seaweed Pull-Apart Rolls. Along with the mouthwatering recipes comes practical advice for novice bakers, including how to avoid collapsed steamed buns, how to infuse creams and custards for the most delicious aromatic tea flavours, and even how to pleat dumplings like an Asian grandma (yes please!).
Maenam by Angus An
Whether you’re a novice cook or a well-seasoned chef, award-winning chef Angus An’s cookbook features over 100 Thai recipes that will inspire you to cook something new. Named after Angus’s award-winning Vancouver Thai restaurant Maenam, the book is a celebration of the Thai flavours that he came to love throughout his cooking training. From recipes for street food-inspired snacks to an absolutely killer curry, this book offers the foundation to modern Thai cuisine.
Cook Real Hawai’i by Sheldon Simeon with Garrett Snyder
Top Chef finalist and Hawaii native Sheldon Simeon shares the Hawaiian recipes nearest and dearest to his heart, from wok-fried poke to pork dumplings made with biscuit dough to crispy cauliflower katsu. It’s a mouthwatering exploration of the Hawaiian islands that will have you craving a trip to Hawaii ASAP. In addition to the simple, flavour-forward recipes, the book also explores the many cultures that have come to create Hawaiian cuisine as we know it, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Filipino influences.
Coconut and Sambal by Lara Lee
Learn the ins and outs of Indonesian cooking with this vibrant and colourful cookbook from Chinese-Indonesian-Australian author Lara Lee. Featuring over 80 traditional recipes that have been passed down from generations of Indonesian cooks, the cookbook showcases delightful dishes like Nasi Goreng, Beef Rendang, Chilli Prawn Satay and Pandan Cake, plus recipes for sambals: the fragrant, spicy relishes that are essential with any Indonesian meal.
Home is Where the Eggs Are by Molly Yeh
This list wouldn’t be complete without our resident Food Network sprinkle queen Molly Yeh! While this title doesn’t hit shelves until September, Molly’s much-anticipated second cookbook has already received lots of buzz. Molly’s signature style blends her Chinese and Jewish backgrounds to seriously delicious results. Some recipes to bookmark in this cookbook include Babka Cereal, Hand-pulled Noodles with Potsticker Filling Sauce, Mozzarella Stick Salad and so much more.