RRP AUD99.95; 550 pages, hardcover. – TAASA Review December 2015


This article was originally found in the December 2015 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 24, Issue 4, Page 27).

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Available locally from Asia Bookroom Why a review in an art journal of a book of recipes? The book’s title gives the answer, for although the bulk of the book consists of recipes from Koo Siu Ling’s family, its central subject is the part played by food and its preparation in the life and culture of the East Javanese Peranakans.

The recipes themselves are bookended by a substantial essay by the Yale historian Paul Freedman and in the last section of the book, a useful illustrated glossary of spices and herbs, and a photographic guide to cooking methods. Freedman’s essay traverses the history of Chinese interaction with and settlement in Indonesia in general, and in particular the Chinese-Indonesian community of Malang in East Java where Siu Ling grew up in the 20th century.

He relates how the Peranakans can trace their origin back over a millennium of seaborne trade over routes stretching from the Persian Gulf and East Africa in the West to China in the East, in which ports in Sumatra, Java and Malaya were vital fulcrums...