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Tour of Southeast Asian cuisine via eclectic cookbooks

Ricelands The culinary tag "Southeast Asian" has cachet in American foodie circles even though it has not yet achieved the all-purpose buzzword status of "Mediterranean."

Books about the food of this vast and complex region are multiplying fast. Four current works on the subject all present their own trade-offs. Do you want the book that covers the largest number of countries (Michael Freeman’s "Ricelands"; Reaktion Books, $35), or that has the largest number of recipes (Rosemary Brissenden’s "Southeast Asian Food"; Periplus Editions, $30)?

The one that charges at the subject with the most irrepressible energy (Robert Danhi’s "Southeast Asian Flavors"; Mortar & Press, $45), or that gives cooks the most careful guidance (James Oseland’s "Cradle of Flavor"; W.W. Norton & Co., $35)? Each is bound to meet some expectations and thwart others. Read more here:

Photo credit: Reaktion Books

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