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Neil Perry's Good Cooking

If you live in Australia, and have never heard of Chef Neil Perry, you have obviously not been paying attention. Or you've been dining really badly. In fact Perry's name has spread further than the country where he began his career. His name has been seen on Qantas menus worldwide since 1997, his many cookbooks are known internationally, and he has been a major TV presenter for a number of series on the LifeStyle Channel. Perry's flagship brand Rockpool Group includes many restaurants and Burger Project venues in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.

Yet, Perry is a chef who values simplicity and fine produce, placing this as the foundation of his best dishes. He describes his 'modus operandi' as being 'about one thing, and that is the quality of the produce, always driven by seasonality'.

He credits his father for teaching him to live and eat with the seasons, and even though he is a multicultural cook now (he lists Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Moroccan, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines as among his favourites) he also favours Modern Australian food and the European influences that have played into it. 

So you think you know what to expect in this cookbook? No, it is not the haute cuisine you may find in many of his restaurants. That's for celebrating and relaxing away from home.

These are good strong achievable recipes, some even simple dishes that you will make over and over - such as Korean king prawn ball and shiitake hotpot, pasta with roasted pumpkin, fetta and pine nuts, a fennel orange salad, scattered with pomegranate seeds, or baked eggs with spicy sausage. If there is a melody line with all Perry's dishes, it is flavour: spicy, tangy, fragrant, pungent.

And yes, there are some sweet dishes as a finale. Perry says he is 'no pastry chef' offering these as his own home-style dishes, yet everyone should at least try his raspberry coconut pudding; and sweet tooths will love the spiced date cake, moderated by crème anglaise. Those who are turned on by texture will rave over the creamy coconut sago with passionfruit mousse.

As always, Neil Perry has provided something for everyone and added yet another standout volume to his personal bookcase of cookery book classics. Add it to your collection too.


Neil Perry's Good Cooking, by Neil Perry, published by Murdoch Books, November 2016, hardcover, illustrated, rrp A$49.99. ISBN:978 17433 68016.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond


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