August 19, 2022


Serious Eating / Amelia Manley

2021 has been an amazing year for cookbooks. And there was so much who were so good, we just don’t have the capacity to list them all. Consider the following list – The Best Cookbooks of 2021, according to the editors of Serious Eats – as a small slice of the incredible bounty on offer this year, representing a range of countries, cultures and destinations. These are not passing fads, they are books from the permanent collection.

If you want to shop at a local retailer or a small retailer, Library and IndieBound both allow you to easily shop at independent online bookstores. No matter where you shop, though, one thing’s for sure: you’re going to have to free up some space on your shelf.

take a fish

Josh Niland’s latest book, Take One Fish: The New Tail Scale Cooking and Dining School, is essential reading for anyone preparing fish of any kind at home. It is a follow up to Niland’s previous book, The whole fish cookbook, which won two James Beard Awards in 2020, but instead of focusing, frankly, on daunting recipes and techniques that are better suited for study by professional cooks, this book has the home cook at home. spirit. There is a lot of valuable information on how to buy, care for and cook fish, most of it based on the principles Niland laid out in his first book, such as the benefits of keeping your fish as dry as possible. as possible. Since Niland’s approach is relatively rare, this is the only resource that describes these methods in detail. And while Niland acknowledges that his way isn’t necessarily the only right way to prepare fish, his insistence on seeing fish and all of its parts as almost entirely usable and delicious when prepared correctly is both inspiring and necessary. – Sho SpaethEditor

The Arabesque Table

I’m so lucky to work with Reem Kassis on a regular basis here at Serious Eats, where she has contributed delicious recipes and insightful articles and (spoiler alert!) we have so much more planned with her in the months to come. Reem’s work is thoughtful and thoughtful, deeply researched and personal, weaving together culinary excellence with the understanding that much of what gives importance to the food we eat is rooted in its history and culture. . His latest book, The Arabesque Tablecomes on the heels of his prime, The Palestinian table, and is inspired by the larger landscape of Arab cuisine of which the Palestinian cuisine she grew up with is a part. It’s a beautiful book in every sense of the word, rich with delicious recipes and the stories that root them, with Reem’s prose navigating effortlessly through a complex culinary and cultural crossroads for our greatest benefit. – Daniel Gritzerculinary director

Oaxacan food

I have long dreamed of visiting Oaxaca. It’s a trip I haven’t taken yet, and the pandemic hasn’t made it any easier. For now, this cookbook by chef Alejandro Ruiz has held me back. It’s an ode to the region he calls home and its foods, and is a wonderful introduction to cooking. Recipes span ancient traditions like nixtamilzing corn for the best tortillas to more modern, cheffy inspirations like shrimp, nopal, broad bean and pea soup, showcasing a lively cuisine that is both deeply connected to its roots and constantly evolution. He also incorporates tributes to the many cooks and restaurants in the area that he says best represent Oaxacan cuisine today – a list that will come in very handy when I finally fly out to visit. —Daniel

Ottolenghi test kitchen: love for shelves

I own all of Yotam Ottolenghi’s books and kind of slept on this guy’s release date. In fact, I didn’t know that until I ran into it at my local bookstore! But, you can bet I bought it as fast as I could whip out my credit card.

Now, I wouldn’t say that Ottolenghi is known for his simple recipes (even his cookbook Simple often requires one to order ingredients by mail order and take out multiple devices for a single recipe), but Love shelfit’s different. Co-written by Noor Murad – who runs the Ottolenghi test kitchen with Ottolenghi himself – it has a more pared-down mindset, focusing on the ingredients you (really!) might already have in your fridge , freezer or pantry. This translates to dried chickpeas evolving into “Cacio e Pepe Chickpeas” or Russian Potatoes evolving into “Gnocchi with Sumac Onions and Brown Butter Pine Nuts”. Will you still not have – and therefore need to buy – some of the ingredients Love Shelf calls for? Sure, but that’s true with any cookbook. But, as a longtime Ottolenghi fan, I appreciate more than the simplified approach Love Shelf take. – Riddley Gemperlein-Schirmbusiness writer

Cooking the real Hawai’i

Cooking the real Hawai’i is beautifully shot, the recipes are compelling, and generally it’s the kind of cookbook you’ll turn to with enthusiasm. But, in my eyes, what makes it one of the best books of the year is how the descriptions and top notes by Sheldon Simeon and Garrett Snyder not only inform the technique behind the recipes, but also the various cultural influences. They deliberately highlight how the peoples of Japan, China, the Philippines, Portugal and other countries have changed food culture and how these influences have intertwined with indigenous traditions. These descriptions helped me better understand how Hawai’i and its food culture were affected by colonialism, and being able to not only cook from this book, but also learn from it, makes it one of my acquisitions essentials of 2021. – Jacob DeanUpdates Editor

The taste of Cotonou

It may seem like a flex to recommend a Beninese cookbook written in French and only available (at a premium) from international sellers. But I promise you that my French, to the extent that there is even very little, sucks. I recommend this book because it simply blew me away. I first learned of it when a friend from Benin posted an Instagram story about it, delighted with how chef Georgiana Viou had portrayed her country’s cuisine. I ordered it, despite the price and my language limitations, because my considerable personal collection of cookbooks is sorely lacking in African tomes. It more than fulfilled my hopes as it contains one jaw-dropping recipe after another and as I slowly did my best to read it, it gave me an education on a cuisine I unfortunately know so little about. . It is a stark reminder of the near-criminal neglect that we, the American food media, have inflicted on the cuisines of the entire African continent. But don’t just buy this cookbook because of that: buy it because it’s glorious. – Daniel

Everyone’s Table

As someone with dietary restrictions, it can be difficult to find a cookbook that not only excites me, but where I can cook every recipe in said book. But, there is one. It’s called Everyone’s Table and it’s by Gregory Gourdet, of Top Chef fame. With recipes free of gluten, dairy, soy, legumes and grains, the recipes in Gourdet’s book are inspired by her global experience, including her Haitian upbringing and her French culinary background. But, without much does not mean without flavor. It’s the contrary. In the book, you’ll find recipes like whole roasted cauliflower, Pwason Boukannen (Haitian grilled fish), and my favorite grilled chicken (marinated with lemongrass, cilantro, and fish sauce). Having done the latter a few times last summer, this is also my new favorite. – Riddley

wild sweetness

The whole book is beautiful; melancholy, even. I loved slowly scrolling through the season-specific recipes (and their chords of moody, moody poems) when I had nowhere to go and nothing to do and found myself flipping through it even now, when I have places to go and things to do. I suppose that makes for an oddly timeless cookbook – a rarity now, yes? Either way, I’ll never make a lemon curd dessert without a streusel topping again, no matter the state of the world. – Tess Komansenior editorial director

Oxford’s companion for spirits and cocktails

Ok, so I realize this isn’t really a cookbook, but Oxford’s companion for spirits and cocktails is such a monumental achievement that it deserves recognition regardless. Editors David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum not only put together a gargantuan tome of watered-down knowledge (864 pages worth!), they enlisted a diverse and respected cohort of authors and experts to research, verify, and present this information. The end result is a compendium of information on beverages, ingredients and traditions from around the world that will satisfy even the most curious and thirsty reader. – Jacob