Festive Dining: Cookbooks for Lunar New Year

This year the Lunar New Year—one of the most popular holidays in the world for several East Asian cultures—started on Sunday, January 22nd, and celebrations will culminate with the Lantern Festival on February 5th.

This is The Year of the Rabbit (for people of Chinese and Korean heritage) and the Year of the Cat (for people of Vietnamese heritage) and festivities can last from a few days up to just past two weeks.

Though Lunar New Year traditions may vary among the different Asian American communities, food is always a main element of festivities. 

Here are some Chinese and South East Asian themed cookbooks to help you prepare for festive feasts or even less elaborate dishes that can be whipped up for breakfast, lunch or dinner anytime during the rest of the year.

Note: All descriptions are taken from the publishers

Asian Noodles : 86 Classic Recipes From Vietnam, Thailand, China, Korea and Japan by Maki Watanabe

Experienced Asian cookbook author Maki Watanabe provides all her secret recipes and tips for creating delicious Asian noodle dishes at home with minimal fuss and time. These 86 noodle recipes cover the Asian cuisines best known for their noodle dishes: Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. They include all the classics that are already well-loved in the West–from Vietnamese Pho to Korean Japchae, and Pad Thai to Chinese Wonton Noodles (with gluten-free options available in the form of Japanese Soba and Udon noodles). However, this book also highlights many lesser-known classics that are popular in Asia but not yet widely found in Western restaurants.

Chinese Homestyle : Everyday Plant-Based Recipes For Takeout, Dim Sum, Noodles, And More by Maggie Zhu

Chinese Homestyle presents exciting twists on authentic, vegan Northern Chinese cuisine, adapted for our busy lifestyles and Western kitchens.

Chinese Instant Pot Cookbook : 60 Quick And Easy Classic Recipes by Sharon Wong

There’s nothing quite like the taste of authentic Chinese food, but making it at home can feel intimidating. Enter the Instant Pot. This cookbook features the most comprehensive collection of Chinese recipes adapted to this magnificent multi-cooker so you can say goodbye to takeout and hello to delicious Chinese meals made at home with the push of a button.

Chinese-ish : Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic, 100% Delicious by Rosheen Kaul

Chinese-ish celebrates the confident blending of culture and identity through food–take what you love and reject what doesn’t work for you. You’ll find a bounty of inauthentic Chinese-influenced dishes from all over South-East Asia, including all the best rice and noodle dishes, wontons, and dumplings. There are also plenty of tips and shortcuts to demystify any tricky-sounding techniques, and a reassuring list of pantry staples and where to find them.

Damn Good Chinese Food : Dumplings, Fried Rice, Bao Buns, Sesame Noodles, Roast Duck, Fried Rice, And More by Chris Cheung

Like many of his predecessors, chef Chris Cheung was inspired by the place where he grew up, lived, worked, and ate. From take-out orders at tiny hole-in-the wall teahouses to the lush green vegetables piled high at the markets, celebration dinners at colossal banquet halls to authentic home-cooked meals, Chinatown’s culinary treasures and culture laid the groundwork for his career as a chef and serve as the creative force behind this book. In addition to learning the technique to make his widely revered dumplings, this cookbook includes fifty mouth-watering dishes that pay homage to the cooking traditions of Chinatown and celebrate this remarkable, resilient neighborhood.

First Generation : Recipes From My Taiwanese-American Home by Frankie Gaw

In this stunning exploration of identity through food, the blogger behind Little Fat Boy presents 80 recipes that defined his childhood as a first-generation Taiwanese American growing up in the Midwest.

Korean American : A Cookbook by Eric Kim

New York Times staff writer Eric Kim grew up in Atlanta, the son of two Korean immigrants. Food has always been central to his story, from Friday-night Korean barbecue with his family to hybridized Korean-ish meals for one–like Gochujang-Buttered Radish Toast and his Kimchi Fried Rice–that he makes in his tiny New York City apartment. In this book, Eric shares these recipes alongside insightful, touching stories and stunning images shot by photographer Jenny Huang. Playful, poignant, and informative, Korean American: A Cookbook also includes essays ranging from the life-changing act of leaving home and coming back, to what Thanksgiving means to a first-generation family both conceptually and culinarily–all the while teaching readers about the Korean pantry, the history of Korean immigration in America, and the importance of white rice in Korean cuisine.

Learning Korean : Recipes For Home Cooking by Peter Serpico

A “wildly inventive” (Food & Wine) James Beard Award-winning chef interprets one of Asia’s greatest cuisines for the everyday eater. The best Korean food is Korean home cooking. The cornerstones of every meal are kimchi and white rice, and once you unlock that perfect marriage of flavor, the universe of wholesome, vegetable-centric cooking will inspire healthy eating, every day. In this insightful and endearing cookbook, new flavors, techniques, and ways to enjoy one of the world’s greatest cuisines are revealed by chef and father Peter Serpico. Born in Seoul and raised in Maryland, Serpico’s route to Korean food came long after making a name for himself in New York City restaurants. His first bites of marinated short ribs and black bean noodles tasted like home, and a love affair with the flavors and techniques of his birthplace began. His debut cookbook draws from his decades of professional cooking experience to elevate the greatest hits of at-home Korean dishes.

Mooncakes & Milk Bread : Sweet & Savory Recipes Inspired by Chinese Bakeries by Kristina Cho

Food blogger Kristina Cho (eatchofood.com) introduces you to Chinese bakery cooking with fresh, simple interpretations of classic recipes for the modern baker. Inside, you’ll find sweet and savory baked buns, steamed buns, Chinese breads, unique cookies, whimsical cakes, juicy dumplings, Chinese breakfast dishes, and drinks. Recipes for steamed BBQ pork buns, pineapple buns with a thick slice of butter, silky smooth milk tea, and chocolate Swiss rolls all make an appearance–because a book about Chinese bakeries wouldn’t be complete without them.

Rice Noodles Yum : Everyone’s Favorite Southeast Asian Dishes by Abigail Sotto Raines

Born and raised in the Philippines, Abigail Raines traveled extensively in Southeast Asia to bring its flavors right to your plate. Her travels taught her that noodles and rice are the perfect canvas for the sweet, salty and spicy flavors of Asian cuisine―inspiring her to create this delicious collection of recipes.

Simply Korean : Easy Recipes For Korean Favorites That Anyone Can Make by Aaron Huh

New to cooking? Don’t worry about it! You can cook Korean like a pro. If you’ve always wanted to make your favorite Korean dishes at home, Simply Korean is for you. With streamlined techniques, minimal ingredients, and clear instructions, you’ll learn the easiest methods to make fried rice, bulgogi, kimchi, and more without sacrificing taste. Master the art of banchan and impress your guests with an epic K-BBQ party. Can’t travel to Seoul? Recipes for tteokbokki and hotteok bring these street food favorites to your kitchen.

Spices and Lime : Recipes From A Modern South East Asian Kitchen by Shamsydar Ani

Shamsydar Ani’s taste buds have always been adventurous. Thanks to them, dishes from her modern South East Asian kitchen runs the gamut from local classics to global favourites — made halal, of course. From ayam goreng berempah (crispy fried chicken) and kway teow goreng (stir-fried rice noodles) to za’atar crusted salmon and New York cheesecake, this collection is loaded with a refreshing variety of flavours that will put some zest into your meals. It also includes an introduction to the halal diet and suggested replacements for common non-halal ingredients.

The Vegan Chinese Kitchen : Recipes And Modern Stories From A Thousand-Year-Old Tradition by Hannah Che

In The Vegan Chinese Kitchen, through gorgeous photography, stories, and recipes, Hannah Che shows us the magic of this highly developed and creative tradition in which nearly every dish in the Chinese repertoire can be replicated in a meatless way, such as Blistered Dry-Fried String Beans or Sweet and Sour Tofu. You’ll also find recipes that are naturally plant-based and as irresistible as they are nourishing, such as flaky scallion pancakes, corn stir-fried with peppers and pine nuts, or pea shoots braised in a velvety mushroom broth made with sesame-oil roux.

Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food : Deliciously Doable Ways To Cook Greens, Tofu, And Other Plant-Based Ingredients by Hsiao-Ching Chou

A vegetarian follow-up to the very popular Chinese Soul Food cookbook that includes 75 plant-based comfort food recipes you can make at home. Chinese Soul Food drew cooks into the kitchen with the assurance they could make this cuisine at home. Though a popular cuisine across North America, Chinese food can be a little intimidating. But author Hsiao-Ching Chou’s friendly and accessible recipes work for everyone, including average home cooks. In this new collection, you’ll find vegetarian recipes for stir-fries, rice and noodle dishes, soups, braises, and pickles. Of course, the book wouldn’t be complete without vegetarian versions of Chou’s famously delicious dumplings, including soup dumplings and shu mai, as well as other dim sum delights. Separate chapters feature egg and tofu recipes. From Cauliflower with Spiced Shallot Oil to Kung Pao Tofu Puffs, and from Hot and Sour Soup to Ma Po Tofu to Steamed Egg Custard, these recipes will satisfy your every craving for classic Chinese comfort food–and all without meat.

Vietnamese Food Any Day : Simple Recipes For True, Fresh Flavors by Andrea Quynhgiao Nguyen 

Drawing upon decades of experience, as well as the hacks her own mom used coming from Vietnam to America, award-winning author Andrea Nguyen shows you how to use everyday ingredients to create true Vietnamese flavors at home–fast. With Nguyen as your guide, there’s no need to take a trip to a specialty grocer for Vietnamese favorites such as banh mi, dumplings, lettuce cups, and pho, as well as recipes for Honey-Glazed Pork Riblets, Chile Garlic Chicken Wings, Turmeric Coconut Rice, and No-Churn Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream. Nguyen’s tips and tricks for getting Viet flavors from ingredients at national supermarkets are indispensable, liberating home cooks and making everyday cooking easier. Her approachable methods, as well as her hardworking tips, give you all the tools you need to make Vietnamese dishes a part of your regular meal rotation.

The Wok : Recipes And Techniques by J. Kenji López-Alt

J. Kenji López-Alt’s debut cookbook, The Food Lab, revolutionized home cooking, selling more than half a million copies with its science-based approach to everyday foods. And for fast, fresh cooking for his family, there’s one pan López-Alt reaches for more than any other: the wok. Whether stir-frying, deep frying, steaming, simmering, or braising, the wok is the most versatile pan in the kitchen. Once you master the basics–the mechanics of a stir-fry, and how to get smoky wok hei at home–you’re ready to cook home-style and restaurant-style dishes from across Asia and the United States, including Kung Pao Chicken, Pad Thai, and San Francisco-Style Garlic Noodles. López-Alt also breaks down the science behind beloved Beef Chow Fun, fried rice, dumplings, tempura vegetables or seafood, and dashi-simmered dishes. Featuring more than 200 recipes–including simple no-cook sides–explanations of knife skills and how to stock a pantry, and more than 1,000 color photographs, The Wok provides endless ideas for brightening up dinner.

The Woks Of Life : Recipes To Know And Love From A Chinese American Family by Bill Leung

The funny and poignant family behind the hugely popular multigenerational blog, The Woks of Life, share 100 of their favorite home-cooked and restaurant-style Chinese recipes, along with game-changing Chinese cooking secrets, that will become a part of your family story, too

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

Upcoming February Reads

Are you looking for some new books to add to your to-read list this February? Mark your calendars for these books set to be released this month. Note: Descriptions are taken from the publisher. 

Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes | February 7 

A story of mix-ups, mess-ups and making the most of second chances, this is the new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and The Giver of Stars. Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else’s shoes?

Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff | February 7 

A woman must rescue her cousin’s family from a train bound for Auschwitz in this riveting tale of bravery and resistance, from the bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris.

More Than Meets the Eye by Iris and Roy Johansen | February 7 

New York Times bestselling authors Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen team up for another electrifying thriller that pits a serial killer against Kendra Michaels’ heightened powers of deduction.

Unnatural History by Jonathan Kellerman | February 7 

The most enduring detectives in American crime fiction are back in this electrifying thriller of art and brutality from the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense.

The Porcelain Moon by Janie Chang | February 21

From the critically acclaimed author of The Library of Legends comes a vividly rendered novel set in WWI France about two young women—one Chinese, one French—whose lives intersect with unexpected, potentially dangerous consequences.

Things We Hide from the Light by Lucy Score | February 21 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lucy Score returns to Knockemout, Virginia, following fan-favorite Things We Never Got Over with Knox’s brother Nash’s story.

Your Driver is Waiting by Priya Guns | February 28

In this electrifyingly fierce and funny social satire—a gender-flipped reboot of the iconic 1970s film Taxi Driver—a ride share driver is barely holding it together on the hunt for love, dignity, and financial security…until she decides she’s done waiting.

Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo | February 28 

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost comes a sweeping story of two star-crossed lovers in post-World War II Italy, and a blossoming relationship generations later that will reveal a long-buried family secret.

Comment below with what you are looking forward to reading the most this month. 

Happy Reading!

-Jessica, Head of Adult Services & Acquisitions