Cookbook Profile

Hot Sour Salty Sweet
A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Hot Sour Salty Sweet 
Award-wirning authors/photographers Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (Seductions of Rice, Flatbread & Flavors) continue their utterly unique blend of culinary travelogue, photojournalism, and cookbook in the deliciously beautiful voyage along the Mekong river that is captured in Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet. The book arrives at the ideal time for an American audience that ranks Asian food as the hottest trend of the moment and Southeast Asia as the most attractive travel destination. Alford and Duguid honor both of these aspects of our national interest with recipes that share the secrets of Asian food, and photography and personal reflections that create the feeling of accompanying the authors on their fascinating journey.

The new book promises to take its place in a line of distinguished publications that identify and introduce a culinary region to our popular culture. In the 1970s, food writer Elizabeth David established the Mediterranean as such a region and helped propel its cuisine to the forefront of cooking over the last twenty-five years. In Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, Alford and Duguid confirm, with contagious enthusiasm, that the Mekong river region will be the major influence on the cooking scene for the next quarter century.

Starting in Yunnan in southern China, crossing into Burma and Laos, and running southward into Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, the Mekong is a thread that unites culinary traditions and creates a distinctive palate based on creative ways of combining hot, sour, salty, and sweet flavors. Having traveled the Mekong's course, Alford and Duguid share more than 175 recipes that they gathered along the way, as well as more than 200 full-color photographs that bring the food and the region to life.

And, like epic filmmakers who understand that a grand story requires an intimate relationship at its core, Alford and Duguid invite the reader to share in the immediacy of their travels through anecdotes, observations, and location photographs. For example, the recipe for Morning Market Noodles begins "Early morning in the village markets in Southeast Asia, there's a chill in the air and the smell of wood smoke from cooking fires. Women cook at open-air stalls, each with a table and a few tools, some bowls and jars of condiments, and a platter of fresh ingredients. Clouds of steam rise from simmering pots of soup. Shops... find themselves perched on stools, side by side with strangers, eating Morning Market Noodles, usually a hot soup."

Adding to the sense of place that the authors create throughout the book is the note that accompanies each recipe title, explaining the location from which the recipe hails. Also provided is a glossary of flavorings, ingredients, and techniques that make it a joy to prepare this extraordinary cuisine at home.

Due to the influx of Asian immigrants to North America, we have come to know and love a variety of Asian foods. The cuisine is now mainstream, as evidenced by the explosion of neighborhood Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian restaurants; the attention paid to it in newspaper and magazine articles; and the proliferation of its key ingredients (e.g., jasmine rice, coriander, mint, lemongrass, and flavorful condiments) on supermarket shelves.

This is the right moment in time for this book, which unlocks the secrets and wonders of the region that gave the world the alluring blend of hot, sour, salty, and sweet. Alford and Duguid left their home in North America, traveled to other side of the world, and have returned to find an audience ready and eager to learn from and savor the flavors of their one-of-a-kind culinary adventure.


About the Authors

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid are photographers, writers, world travelers, and great cooks. Their first book, Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker's Atlas, won the 1996 James Beard Award for Cookbook of the Year and the IACP Julia Child Award for Best First Book. Seductions of Rice, their second book, was chosen as the Cookbook of the Year by Cuisine Canada. Their articles and photographs frequently appear in Food & Wine and Gourmet magazines. Their stock photo agency, Asia Access, is based in Toronto, where they live with their sons, Dominic and Tashi, when they are not on the road.


Buy the Book!


Hot Sour Salty Sweet
A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Artisan, November 2000
Hardback, $40.00
368 pages, full-color throughout, over 175 recipes
ISBN: 1-57965-114-3
Information provided by the publisher.


Hot Sour Salty Sweet



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This page created January 2001