Star-Bulletin Features

Sunday, December 30, 2001


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“A New Way to Cook”

(Artisan, 2001, $40)


Review by Barbara Burke
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Ginger and cilantro crab cakes, lacquered baby back ribs, chocolate mousse cake -- can these tempting foods really be part of a healthful lifestyle?

The answer is an emphatic yes, according to food writer Sally Schneider. A two-time winner of the coveted James Beard awards, Schneider is sure to win kudos for her latest book, "A New Way to Cook," where great taste rules, no food is taboo and the concept of self-denial just doesn't exist.

Ten years of research in her home kitchen culminated in 600 innovative recipes that reduce fat and calories without sacrificing good taste. Schneider provides nutritional analyses for the recipes, just to prove it.

She performs much of her kitchen wizardry through the use of herbs, spices, sauces, dry rubs, marinades, flavored oils and essences, infused broths and vinaigrettes. Flavor-enhancing techniques include searing, pan smoking, oven roasting and grilling.

Schneider's book draws upon an international cuisine, including a number of recipes with an Asian flair, such as Vietnamese Chicken Salad and Cold Spicy Sesame Noodles. Some recipes are as simple as freezing whole lychees for a refreshing dessert. Others, such as Szechwan Pepper-Crusted Steak Smothered with Onions, take considerably more time and patience, but the instructions are well written and easy to follow.

In the following dish, sake is enriched with shallots and unsalted butter to produce a sweet, mellow sauce for steamed clams. The dish goes well over egg pasta.

Clams Steamed in Sake

1 1/2 cups sake
2 pounds small clams or mussels
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced shallots
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, basil or flat-leaf parsley

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, simmer the sake over moderate heat until reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the clams; cover and cook until they have opened, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to two warm, shallow soup bowls.

Swirl the butter, shallots and salt into the sake broth, bring to a boil over high heat, and boil for 30 seconds. Ladle the sauce over the clams, and garnish with herbs. Serve at once. Serves 2.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 260 calories, 3 grams total fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 140 milligrams sodium, 15 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrate.

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who teaches and writes about food and nutrition. Her reviews of cookbooks of local interest run every two weeks. Contact her at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email

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