Cookbooks in my house mostly occupy numerous bookshelves. Bookshelves in my office, bookshelves in my bedroom and of course, bookshelves in my kitchen. The Favorites reside in the kitchen, within easy reach, old friends well thumbed, marked perhaps with wayward droplets of sauce or juice from a fat lime. However one cookbook has had the top spot as my coffee table cookbook for quite some years. Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.
Half travelogue, half cookbook, you can imagine the cover shot immediately hooked me through my envious photographer's eyes. Richard Jung took the studio shots and the authors took the location shots, all of which are beautiful and instantly evocative of the couple's time spent traveling up and down the Mekong River. It's a gorgeous, richly detailed book jammed with recipes. Since Southern Saturdays with Virginia took a little break this weekend, I thought Sunday Supper should get a little love and I'd try making Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce. I've linked the recipe from the Food Network since they've credited the authors and it's written just as it is in the cookbook.
One of the reasons I picked this recipe to try, besides it's simplicity, was that I'm trying to develop a more spice heat accepting palate. When it comes to eating the spicier food of life, I usually pass. It's time to see what I've been missing. This recipe definitely covers those bases. The marinade is a black pepper, coriander (cilantro), and garlic paste that's incredibly fragrant. The chicken absorbs that wonderful flavor which is only enhanced by a quick grilling or broiling. However that's only two of the flavor profiles the title of this book hints at, we've still got hot and sweet to apply to our chicken.
That's where the Hot and Sweet dipping sauce comes in. Apple cider vinegar, sugar, more garlic and a healthy dose of dried red pepper flakes will put the puck in your pucker. Excellent practice for yours truly. Which is why I had plenty of jasmine rice and some steamed bok choy on hand to blunt the heat a little. If you like spice and heat and want a break from your routine buffalo wings, give this recipe a try. Don't forget to check out this book from your local library and linger over it a good long time, you won't be sorry.