From Italy to Japan: our favourite cookbooks for spring 2021

The latest batch of cookbook releases takes us on a journey through Italian delis, the rich cuisine of the eastern Mediterranean and plant-based recipes inspired by Asia.

By Angela Hui
Published 19 Mar 2021, 08:00 GMT, Updated 15 Jun 2021, 14:29 BST
New releases include The Italian Deli Cookbook by Theo Randall, an homage to the humble Italian deli.

New releases include The Italian Deli Cookbook by Theo Randall, an homage to the humble Italian deli. 

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller Food

A cookbook born of lockdown, Theo Randall’s latest offering pays homage to the humble Italian deli. As head chef of London’s The River Café restaurant for 15 years, Randall noticed how specialist delicatessens provided a lifeline for Italians missing the food of their homeland. And while he’d long wanted to write a book about creating simple, delicious dishes using tinned and preserved ingredients, spending so much time at home last year, with limited culinary supplies, provided added impetus. Featuring more than 100 recipes, the book is broken down by key ingredients, many of them storecupboard staples, such as dried pasta, rice, olive oil, flour and vinegar. You’ll also find sections devoted to cheese, eggs, coffee and more. Recipes range from nduja focaccia with tomatoes and rosemary to anchovy and sage fritters and — perhaps the ultimate larder meal — spaghetti alla puttanesca. Dessert is covered, too, with granita, tiramisu, chocolate pots and more. While most of the ingredients are available in supermarkets, Randall has even included a directory of his favourite delis, too. £26, Quadrille

2. How Wild Things Are, by Analiese Gregory

Tasmania-based Analiese Gregory’s debut is packed with tales of hunting and fishing, along with plenty of recipes. Some are probably more for admiring than recreating (possum sausages), while others (such as brown sugar-cured hot-smoked trout) are more achievable. £22, Hardie Grant

3. Monk, by Yoshihiro Imai

Monk tells the story of chef Yoshihiro Imai’s Kyoto restaurant, where cooking over fire takes centre stage. Expect pizzas topped with mackerel and kamonasu aubergine (a round Japanese variety), plus the likes of kintoki carrot with sake kasu (a byproduct of sake-making). £29.95, Phaidon

4. Ripe Figs, by Yasmin Khan

In her latest book, Yasmin Khan traces the culinary culture of the Eastern Mediterranean from the time of the Ottoman Empire to today’s refugee communities. Incorporating Khan’s travel diary, it features seasonal, veg-centric recipes, such as hot yoghurt and spinach soup. £26, Bloomsbury

5. Asian Green, by Ching-He Huang

TV chef Ching-He Huang’s latest book encompasses more than 100 plant-based recipes inspired by Asia, from Buddhist Chinese vegetarian cooking to nourishing Korean soups. Among the standout dishes are Korean-style ram-don noodles and Chinese black bean seitan tacos. £20, Octopus Books.

Love food and travel? Taste the world at the National Geographic Traveller Food Festival, our immersive culinary event that takes place every summer. Find out more and book your tickets.

Published in Issue 11 (spring 2021) of National Geographic Traveller Food

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