MacLeod (Asian Ingredient Substitutions, 2018, etc.) provides a comprehensive reference text of food substitutions.
This alphabetical guide offers readers hundreds of ingredient alternatives as well as recipes for everything from abalone to zucchini. The author specifically offers advice regarding problematic foods for readers on restrictive diets—such as vegans or those looking for foods free of gluten, lactose, and soy, or low in fat, salt, or sugar. In the case of sour cream, for example, the author offers no fewer than nine alternatives. These range from simple swaps, such as plain, full-fat Greek-style yogurt, to more complicated substitutes, such as one that requires blending soaked cashews with water, lemon juice, and sea salt to make a dairy-free, creamy topping. If readers need the sour-cream substitution for a particular purpose, such as a cooked sauce or baking, they’ll find appropriate ones for those specific tasks listed separately. Cooks who are frustrated by the lack of gluten-free products in stores will find homemade solutions here, such as ground, roasted peanuts instead of bread crumbs. For those who find themselves midrecipe without a crucial ingredient, such as nutmeg, the author will save the day with her stand-ins, such as allspice or cinnamon. Some substitutions are more exotic; for instance, one can swap a dozen small Hawaiian malasadas for mini-zeppoli (Italian doughnut-style pastries) or make their own by frying pizza dough and sprinkling it with confectioners’ sugar. Each substitution includes one-to-one measurements. MacLeod certainly knows her stuff, and there’s plenty of material here; the book weighs in at 520-plus pages, followed by an extensive bibliography. The absence of an introduction or any kind of narrative engagement with the reader, however, makes it feel as dry as a Physicians’ Desk Reference. The lack of interaction between author and reader may not bother those who are practitioners in the dietary or homeopathic fields, who are simply looking for quick answers. Foodies, however, may find the overall lack of personality disappointing.
A massive but workaday collection of culinary suggestions.