I have not written an Asian cookbook, but I have actively blogged about Asian food for more than a year. I am just like other bloggers- hoping that my posts and articles are read and appreciated by like-minded people. Right now, I have over five hundred subscribers to my list who are actively following my blog.
Writing a recipe post is ad hoc with no specific planning. All I want is to get my recipe posted and let people try them. Writing a cookbook is totally different. It starts with an objective- writing for a specific purpose, and deliver certain benefits to the readers.
So what is the reason to write an Asian cookbook? Many people who have read my recipe posts are looking for recipes that are quick and easy to reproduce at home. I guess there are many people who are just like me, struggling to find time cooking at home after a long day of work (imagine a restaurateur like me!). It is wonderful if I can impart my knowledge on Asian food to people who want to learn how to cook simple and tasty food.
What should I include in the Asian cookbook?
Before I begin to write, here are my initial thoughts about the book:
- Include Asian recipes that cover a number of countries. My target readers include people who are unfamiliar with Asian food and prefer to start with meals that are easy to prepare. I think they are not looking for any specific recipes from a country in Asia. This assumption is based on my observation that most Asians lump French, Italian, British and American food together and collectively call it Western food with no idea of the differences. The same understanding of food should apply to non Asians to Asian food as they have a vague concept of Chinese, Malay, Vietnamese, Thai, or Indonesian food.
- Recipes that can be ready within half an hour, preferably 15 minutes. Most people do not intend to become chefs but to have a good home-cooked meal. They can be busy moms and working people who are pressed for time to deal with multiple tasks. I would like to offer recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, but am bot sure if I can tighten the limitation to 15 minutes or just let loose as ‘simple cooking’.
- Write recipes of food that I am best at. I was born in Hong Kong and reside in Malaysia. Most of my recipes are South East Asian food liked by the local people. Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese food are among the common food we eat daily, Japanese and Korean food is the close second. I want to focus on Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese food that I am best with, but not sure what the readers really want me to include.
- A section to discuss the basic Asian cooking techniques. Since the cookbook is about simple and quick Asian food, it is essential that the readers have basic knowledge of Asian cooking techniques such as steaming and stir frying. I have written about stir frying extensively, but not all readers will find my article about this on my blog.
- The layout of the book will be simple and straightforward. I will publish primarily on Kindle as it is the easiest and effectively way to reach my audience. However, Kindle only supports simple design. I would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in this recipes collection whether they want the book to be published in another format that supports much more elaborate graphic design.
- Fifty or more recipes in the book. I browsed through more than ten cookbooks (some I read and some I just wanted to know how many recipes they contain and realized that the minimum number of recipes should be fifty. Some Asian cookbook have hundreds of recipes but I wonder if anyone will try all of them. I believe quality trumps quantity and I will opt for a smaller number, perhaps in the range of fifty to hundred to ensure I can pay attention to the minute details of each recipe.
How much time do I need to write a cookbook?
I am inspired by Taylor Pearson who wrote the best-selling book The End of Jobs. He posted an article of close to ten thousand words explaining in detail how he wrote his bestselling book in eight solid months.
I am not sure how long I need to accomplish my work, but his framework will be my reference whenever I get stuck in the rut. I’ll probably give myself 6 months as my Asian cookbook is shorter than his.
To set a time frame of 6 months in this post is like burning the bridge, and propel myself to complete it on schedule so I do not disappoint all my readers who anticipate seeing the book published on time.
Will the book help solve a problem?
Writing a book is different from compiling lecture notes. You can copy and paste from any sources to compile lecture notes, with no issue of plagiarism. On the contrary, a book must offer something unique and original, and provide an answer to a specific problem.
All the recipes in the Asian cookbook must be original, tested and documented, albeit most are common dishes in Asia. I include some recipes in my cafe and simplified them to suit the theme of the cookbook. I also developed some common everyday Asian household foods with a twist.
The recipes must be simple enough, prepared with ease, and involves mostly the commonly available ingredients in an average home kitchen.
In short, I am writing a series of simple Asian recipes prepared within half an hour with commonly available ingredients in an average home kitchen.
I hope it makes a contribution to the culinary community.
Why did I publish this as a post?
This is not the normal style I write in. There isn’t any recipe here. But it serves to make me commit to writing the Asian cookbook. I know you are reading it now. So I do not want to disappoint you, nor anyone like you.
And certainly, please leave your comments below. Your suggestions will help me do a much better job.
Letting me make a commitment here is like giving me a kick in the butt. And stay tuned- I’ll post the first recipe of the cookbook within two weeks.