Surveying the top cookbooks of 2016, Pat Nourse finds much to like. Here's a selection offering plenty of grunt along with the gloss.
1 Land of Fish and Rice
Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury, $49.99)
After painting captivating portraits of Sichuan and Hunan,
Fuchsia Dunlop, the author of easily the most compelling writing on
Chinese food in English today, turns her attention to the bounty of
Shanghai and the Lower Yangtze region. The mix of recipes balances
fare perfect for weeknight eating (steamed eggplant with garlic
dressing) with recipes for the lesser-seen likes of wild rice stems
and the "extremely complicated" squirrel fish.
Must cook: Hangzhou breakfast tofu.
Gill Meller (Quadrille, $49.99)
British River Cottage alumnus Gill Meller has managed that rare trick: the cookbook that offers something interesting and cookable on every page. Open it at random and the eye falls on such gentle twists as oat biscuits with sheep's cheese and rosemary or bacon braised with cuttlefish and bay.
Must cook: blackberry, saffron and honey drop scones.
Virgilio Martínez (Phaidon, $85)
This one is more for the reading as a brilliant travelogue than
the cooking, unless you have a reliable local source for queñual
bark, Bahuaja nut oil or ichu grass (excellent, we're told, with
tunta). Given that this is a document of the cuisine of Central,
the Lima eatery leading South America's charge into global
gastronomy, though, it's entirely fitting.
Best sentence: "Here we freeze ingredients that are often part of shamanic rituals..."
4 The Truffle Cookbook
Rodney Dunn (Penguin, $59.99)
The brilliance of GT contributor and Agrarian Kitchen
founder Rodney Dunn's work here is that even though it's the book
on black truffles, dishes such as corned beef with lentils and the
salad of soft-boiled eggs, fennel and radishes work perfectly even
without the addition of the black gold.
Must cook: steamed treacle, date and ginger pudding with truffle custard.
5 Best Kitchen Basics
Mark Best (Hardie Grant, $59.95)
Mark Best routinely blew minds and won hearts with his edgy
cooking at Sydney fine-diner Marque. Here, though, it's all about
turning everyday meals into something special, whether it's
chocolate jelly, roast lamb with chamomile or ricotta
Must cook: Sauternes custard.
6 A Spot at the Bar
Michael Madrusan & Zara Young (Hardie Grant, $45)
Easily the best Australian cocktail book published to date,
A Spot at the Bar documents the refreshments served at The
Everleigh in Melbourne in rare style and with superb design. It's
all the richer for digressions into women's footwear, social
etiquette and buttered radishes.
Must shake: Gin Gin Mule.
7 Australian Fish & Seafood
John Susman, Anthony Huckstep, Sarah Swan & Stephen Hodges (Murdoch Books, $79.99)
With GT fish-whisperer John Susman and former Fish Face
chef Steve Hodges on board, this chewy volume was always going to
have authority; its flair is a welcome surprise. It's dense with
detail, but is (fittingly) never dry, and fresh flavours leap from
Must cook: pot-roasted whole John Dory with wild garlic.
8 A Recipe for Art
John Olsen (Thames & Hudson, $39.99)
It's a bit unfair, really, that a man this talented with a brush
should also be so handy with a kitchen knife. The great Australian
painter's travels and life in the kitchen are traced here with
equal vigour in recipes and art.
Must cook: "A golden paella twisted with raspberry-coloured langouste cooked in an abandoned farmhouse by the beach."
Our first-ever hardcover cookbook showcases our favourite menus
for celebration. Join the party!
Must cook: fried mortadella sandwiches! Beetroot soup with burrata! White-cut chicken with chilli oil and peanuts!
Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.
The world is getting hotter and we’re not talking about glob...
A new organisation is empowering women working in the hospit...
A leading local tea exporter now offers his leaves to the do...
A selection of regional monofloral honeys sourced direct fro...
We find ourselves inexorably drawn to salt caramel in a jar....
Hand-dived abalone, turban shell and sea urchin.
Entertainer Julia Zemiro notes there’s little difference bet...
When it comes to talking turkey, the best birds have lived t...
Food fermentation 'revivalist' and guru Sandor Ellix Katz di...
Meet the producers of the creme de la creme of Australian fu...
Bringing local flavour to artisan-made bacon.
Now, here's a mighty handful: GT's Gourmet Fast recipes are ...
What? More than 200 new pictograms in the latest Emoji set, ...
The jumbuck has leapt straight from the pages of Banjo Pater...
Thicker, creamier milk, with a more pronounced almond flavou...