The Mekong has, for many hundreds of years, been the super highway of South East Asia, a vibrant artery that defines a vast region. The world’s tenth largest river, which rises in Tibet and joins the sea in Vietnam, traverses 6 countries, mingling exquisite food and traditions.

Award-winning authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid followed the river south, from its sauce through the mountain gorges of southern China, to Burma and into Laos and Thailand, then on to Cambodia, and finally Vietnam and into the South China Sea.

During their travels they ate traditional foods in villages and small towns,  learned techniques and ingredients from cooks and market vendors, and came to realize that the local cuisines, like those of the Mediterranean, share a distinctive culinary approach – each cuisine balances, with the regional flavour, the quartet of hot, sour, salty, and sweet.

Their resultant book,  Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia, contains a wealth of anecdotal material, together with 175 authentic recipes, beautiful photographs of both the region and dishes, and explicit formulas for a host of dipping sauces that make the regional cuisine so unique.

Beginning with a discussion of the Mekong region, its peoples and their characteristic foods, the book then provides recipes organized by ingredients, dish types, and topics such as “Everyday Dependable,” “One-Dish Meals,” “Kids Like It,” and “Vegetarian Options.” This latter style of division helps define and “domesticate” a vast array of cooking, often enjoyed at times and places foreign to Westerners.

For anyone interested in southeast Asian cuisine, Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia is a must.  Other books by the same authors worth a look at,u include Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent, Seductions of Rice, and Flatbreads and Flavours.

Interested in buying this book? Visit – Red Pepper Books – The South African online bookshop, is able to offer you great prices on any book you are looking for, and they deliver to your door. Pay only R474 for this book (Recommended Retail Price = R527)!

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