I couldn’t be more excited to talk about Russ Crandall’s new cookbook Paleo Takeout for my first ever book review. I’ve always been a huge fan of Russ’ straight-forward and authentic recipes, especially in his last book, Ancestral Table. There is something almost magical about the way he combines the simplest flavors and ingredients to create a dish that just explodes in your mouth with flavor. I’m only 3 recipes into Paleo Takeout but I can already tell, this book is no different. (I’ve doggy eared nearly half the book. No joke).
Russ’ book features 200 paleo-friendly recipes, all inspired by traditional takeout. Of course, unlike traditional takeout, you won’t find any additives, processed thickeners or gluten. The book is broken down into five sections, each focusing on a different region and type of takeout – Chinese, Japanese & Korean, Southeast Asia & Beyond and American Classics. There’s even an entire section on sauces, condiments and sides.
To be honest, this book arrived just in time. Chinese food has always been a serious weakness of mine and while I’m normally pretty good about staying away from traditional Chinese takeout, (it upsets my stomach literally every time), I was having a pretty bad craving right around the time this book arrived on my doorstep. So, I picked up the book and pretty much immediately went grocery shopping.
Few things in the kitchen intimidate me as much as Asian cuisine. Mostly, I look at the long ingredient lists and get turned off by the amount of things I don’t have or don’t recognize. But somehow, when I opened up Paleo Takeout, I was surprised by the number of ingredients I already had laying around the house like arrowroot powder, white pepper, tamari and red boat fish sauce. Sure, there were some things I didn’t recognize or didn’t have, but for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised. And, anything I didn’t have I easily found. Finally, Asian food that felt do-able and something to keep me even farther away from being tempted by processed takeout. While Russ includes a variety of different cuisines, I chose to to go the Chinese route and make three recipes from the first section of his book. Because, like I said, serious cravings over here.
Anyway, without further ado, onto the food!
The first dish I made was Beef and Broccoli except I decided to mix it up a little and use chicken instead of beef. I already had some chicken defrosted in the fridge and Russ mentions in the recipe that using thinly sliced chicken would work just as well. Not to mention, chicken and broccoli was always my go-to choice when getting Chinese takeout so making this first was the obvious choice. (The only other substitution I made was that I used chicken broth instead of beef broth). It turned out so, so good. I have to be honest, for a while I thought there was no way the little bit of sauce the recipe made was gonna do it. But, clearly, a little goes a long way because the sauce was pretty unreal. I may or may not have licked the bowl…
Next up was Char Siu, which is a semi-sweet glazed roasted pork. I was drawn the recipe because 1. I will use any excuse to use our new grill and 2. I noticed Russ’ note about using the leftovers to make Chow Mein. Sold. Once again, I was blown away by the flavors in the sauce. It complimented the meat so nicely and the texture of the glaze was irresistible.
Last up, I used the leftover pork to make Chow Mein with spiralized sweet potato noodles. I rarely use my spiralizer for anything other than zucchini (recipes here and here), but using it for sweet potato was a really nice treat. Plus, it inspired me to get way more creative with my spiralizer moving forward. Because really, why not?
Once again, the flavors in this dish completely blew me away. The sauce is only 6 ingredients and like the Chicken and Broccoli, I was afraid it wasn’t going to be enough. But with a few splashes of toasted sesame oil at the end, it was darn near perfect. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a simple sauce and fresh ingredients! The combination of fresh sweet potato, carrots, bok choy, mung bean sprouts with just the right amount of sauce to compliment it… can’t get any better than that. Not to mention, I got to enjoy the delicious Char Siu again.
Other than the flavors of these dishes, I loved that the recipes made quite a bit of food. If there’s anything more satisfying than takeout, it’s leftover takeout for lunch the next day.
I’m pretty excited to work my way through the rest of this cookbook and have no doubt all of the recipes will continue to be amazingly authentic, simple and bursting with flavor. Russ’ book is less than $20 on Amazon and for 200 recipes that will help you indulge in all the takeout you want without the guilt, that’s a darn good deal!
If you’re interested in meeting Russ and learning more about the book, be sure to take a look at where he’s stopping on his book tour.
Happy cooking! Oh, and don’t forget to check out the rest of my favorite books here!