13 Asian American and Pacific Islander-Authored Cookbooks You Need to Know About

From dumplings to chaat, here are books that will help you dig into the rich tapestry of AAPI cuisines.

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May 19, 2022

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Photo by: Reprinted from Korean American. Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Photographs copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

Reprinted from Korean American. Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Photographs copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a time to recognize the efforts and accomplishments and honor the tales of AAPI. For foodies and book lovers alike, there are few better ways to pay respect than learning the stories of their past, the trials and tribulations which influenced the course of their lives, and the recipes which serve as their love language. Like trophies which memorialize the milestones and successes of chefs and food writers, these AAPI-authored books offer an optimistic look at a rapidly growing group of innovators, spearheading the way for future talents.


As the name suggests, food writer Eric Kim draws from his experiences of growing up in Atlanta with Korean immigrant parents in this heartwarming cookbook. Recipes for sheet pan bibimbap and caramelized kimchi baked potatoes are joined with simple treasures like Kim’s take on soft scrambled egg toast and perfect white rice. Eye-catching, full-page food photography is a feast for the eyes, but the book is also filled with essays detailing the journey and experiences of a first-generation family. Kim’s thoughtful references, nostalgic photos and careful introduction to Korean cooking essentials make it a must-have.

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In an impressive follow up to Into The Vietnamese Kitchen — which should have a permanent home on your bookshelf — Andrea Nguyen puts the spotlight on dumplings from all of the abundant regions of Asia, including recipes from Korea, Tibet, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and more. Organized by the various doughs and wrapping styles, the book offers a substantial guide, from savory Shanghai soup dumplings to sweet Indian gulab jamun. Furthermore, Nguyen keeps the reader in mind as she details prep work, time-saving hacks and techniques for achieving proper dumplings every time.

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In light of David Chang’s widespread popularity from his Momofuku restaurants, this book offers a deeper dive into the celeb chef’s impressive cooking style. All levels of cooks, from novice to pro, are welcome to read the 300+ pages, but following through with a full recipe may take some serious prep. Iconic dishes like Momofuku ramen call for time-intensive broth making and add-ins like sliced pork belly and pork shoulder. But whether you take on the challenge (and you should), the book packs in plenty of humor and personal insight from Chang on his wealth of experience of New York’s culinary scene.

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The funky fusion recipes in Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish are an ode to her immigrant mother, whose cooking was influenced by traditional Indian fare and American staples favored by her children. Certain ingredients are swapped out to make dishes approachable for an American reader, but still Indian-inspired, as in pizzas built on rotis in lieu of dough and baked potatoes topped with chaat masala and Indian green chilies instead of bacon and chives. Krishna shares anecdotes from her own family history of how certain combinations were developed and why they work, giving readers plenty to experiment with.

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James Beard Award-winning author Grace Young is just as lauded for her humanitarian work as she is her published books and culinary achievements. Her efforts in raising $40,000 in support of the nation’s Chinatowns earned her recognition by the James Beard Foundation for the Humanitarian of the Year Award, while her books continue to earn praise for their wealth of information between poignant-written pages. In Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge, Young spotlights more than 100 recipes for different stir-fry meals reflecting ingredients and flavors from Beijing, Taiwan, Malaysia and beyond. She makes known the importance of Chinese cooking philosophy and how the art of stir-frying has been a significant part of the food culture.

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As he has long been known to confidently and proudly point out “Yan can cook!”, the chef, author and television personality is being honored for his considerable contributions to the culinary world by the James Beard Foundation, earning a Lifetime Achievement Award this year. With more than 30 cookbooks under his belt, the iconic chef is as influential today, opening M.Y. Asia in Las Vegas later this year, for his expertise in Chinese cooking as he has been when his signature show Yan Can Cook aired in the late ’70s. In Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking, he takes the reader inside 11 Chinatowns of the world, serving as a guide on how to shop, what to buy and differentiating between different regions. With more than 200 recipes, dishes range from familiar favorites like kung pao chicken and barbecued pork to adventurous alternatives like Good Fortune fish chowder.

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In her debut cookbook, Indonesian-Australian writer and chef Lara Lee compiles a collection of recipes reflecting the bountiful cuisine of Indonesia. Inspired by her own family’s recipes, Lee presents how-tos for dishes like prawn satay, kaffir lime and peanut rempeyek, beef rendang and thousand-layer cake. Page by page, through the unique combination of sweet, spicy and savory flavors, Lee takes readers on a journey of the region which boasts thousands of islands. Artful photography and details of the country’s food traditions which have been honored by generations upon generations will likely have you wanting to visit the country yourself.

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As a nod to his famed California burger restaurant by the same name — and a reference to himself as a Filipino-American male —Alvin Cailan’s Amboy offers a worthy exploration into the talented chef’s story through his own recipes. From the coming-of-age struggles of growing up with an immigrant family in East L.A. to the launch of Eggslut, which would go on to become a wildly successful brand in Los Angeles and beyond, Cailan’s stories are relatable, hopeful and highly motivating. Learners looking to gain knowledge of Filipino cooking will encounter a plethora of fine choices to practice on, including lumpia, sinangag and lechon. Overall, the feel-good factor in this book is plenty reason to give it a read.

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While any chef will tell you how valuable leaning into your senses in the kitchen is, Christine Ha has amazingly managed to champion the art of cooking without one of the most significant ones: her sense of vision. The visually impaired chef has served as a trailblazer in the industry, opening restaurants The Blind Goat and Xin Chao in Houston and penning a book of her own tried and true recipes. The collection, which reflects Ha’s Asian-American heritage, boasts a slew of Vietnamese comfort eats plus some American classics. Keeping the book close will aid in cooking up a meal of Vietnamese spring rolls and pho noodle soup, but it also delivers top notch recipes for things like clam chowder and spaghetti sauce.

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While it may not be as fast as dialing into your local Thai restaurant and placing an order for curry, noodles and mango with sticky rice, trying your hand at one of the 101 recipes in Jet Tila’s Thai food bible will serve as a rewarding experience. All of the classics are laid out with easy-to-understand instruction, plus Tila includes a number of plant-based takes on the classics. Thai food lovers may instantly gravitate toward learning the recipes for stir-fried glass noodles and Thai BBQ chicken, but the vast list also makes available lesser-known street eats like savory pork jerky and sugarcane crispy shrimp. Arguably one of the most important reasons to take ownership of the book though, is Tila’s recipe for pad Thai coined “the last pad Thai recipe you’ll ever need.”

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While you can’t get your hands on Molly Yeh’s new book, Home is Where the Eggs Are, until this September, you can feed your soul and your face with recipes from her 2016 book, Molly on the Range, in which she documents her unique, and at times comical, experiences of living on a farm on the North Dakota-Minnesota border. Loyal followers of Yeh’s journey will enjoy the personal commentary, but new readers will surely appreciate the detailed realities of farm life, inspired recipes including scallion challah and tater tot chicken pie, and an informed narrative from a talented Chinese-Jewish personality who puts a fun twist on Midwest eats.

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Despite the level of knowledge or experience you have with chaat, this book by celeb chef fave Maneet Chauhan makes it easy and fun to learn more about India’s popular street food which reflects hundreds of different dishes. Chauhan takes the time to distinguish different regions of the country and recounts stories of her travels through destinations like Agra, Mumbai and Amritsar. While the book has plenty of heartwarming moments, Chauhan offers an education into the significant moments in India’s rich history which shaped the cuisine as a whole over the past century. The book isn’t limited to eats – recipes for thirst-quenching drinks are documented too, including boozy ones like the tamarind gin and tonic.

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Playfully known as the “Godfather of Poke,” Sam Choy is part of the reason regional Hawaiian cuisine is so mainstream today. The James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur and television personality has authored more than 15 cookbooks, showcasing standout recipes inspired by the islands and their waters. In Polynesian Kitchen, Choy puts the spotlight specifically on the islands which make up the South Pacific. Inspired by his travels, he details the many morsels of his journey through Polynesia and the people who add to its charm. Amp up your next beach or luau-themed party with recipes from the book, including coconut-lemongrass baby back ribs and Pacific gazpacho, or consider one of his many other published gems to quickly become a poke-making pro.

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