food, Lifestyle, Recipes

book review: just add rice

Craig Fraser, Grethe Rosseaux

From creating recipes for her blog and launching her own cookbook, to using social media to advocate for social change, local foodie Ming-Cheau Lin has become a force to be reckoned with.

Born in Tainan, Taiwan, Ming-Cheau immigrated to South Africa with her family in the early ’90s, and her book is focused on sharing her insights on Taiwanese culture through celebrating recipes and stories that kept her connected to her extended family when they lived in a distant country. Just Add Rice, her recently launched (beautiful) cookbook, with food photography by Craig Fraser, is a comprehensive take on East Asian and Chinese cuisine. Ming-Cheau busts the myths typical of the cultural appropriation of Asian food and sets the record straight, then adds simple recipes, and as a result the book speaks to her migrant food journey and how important it is for families who live outside of their homelands to share and bond over food, to celebrate and reflect on it. Also, as she writes,

'It is important to normalise our culture, our traditions of food, to stop exoticising (thus othering) our norms so we can stop being seen as foreigners in South Africa.' 

Now based in Cape Town where she runs her food blog, Butterfingers, Ming-Cheau's mindful approach in this multicultural environment is refreshing and honest. Not only does she share her familiarity with Taiwanese cuisine and family recipes, but layers that with a must-have pantry list of items for cooking, all of which are widely available in South Africa, as well as suggested substitutions if required. Also included are notes on Taiwanese etiquette and dining rituals. Steering clear of stereotypes in general, this book explores heritage and Asian cooking in a way that is original, authentic and delicious.

Look out for the August #HLNEXTLEVEL2018 issue, in which Ming-Cheau shares her Body of Work (pages 34–35). 
Ming-Cheau Lin.

Spring onion pancake and turnip daikon cake.


Just Add Rice (Quivertree Publications; RRP R375) is available at all leading bookstores or online here. win one of three copies of just add rice. Enter here.