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Eat With Your Hands

Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., June 1, 2012

Eat With Your Hands

by Zakary Pelaccio
(Ecco/Harper, $39.99, 368 pp)

Pelaccio is founder and co-owner of the Brooklyn restaurants Fatty Crab and Fatty 'Cue, known for big flavored food that blends Asian flavors with a European palette. The chef, food, and book are wildly irreverent, combining an emo ethos with sophisticated technique and innovative flavors to produce an iconoclastic genre of hipster food for the new millennium. Pelaccio suggests music to accompany the production of each recipe, as well as the best drink for the task. The music and drink are as varied and wide-ranging as the food; Pelaccio is nothing if not opinionated.

Meant for the kitchen counter and not the coffee table, Eat With Your Hands offers more than 125 unique recipes aimed at the professional and the home cook alike, with photography that's deliciously creative. The cookbook is long on expertise and technique, revealed through well-written recipes in a refreshing style with humorous sidebars. Pelaccio encourages the cook to let go of convention and make the recipe their own, substituting ingredients when the urge hits.

For a tempting sampling of the recipes, a nice meal might include roasted beets with braised bacon (Lounge Lizards' "No Pain for Cakes," with a rye and Cynar cocktail), a watermelon and pork belly salad (Coltrane's "Blue Train," with a Reisling), or a salad of arugula, boiled peanuts, and chile vinegar (Ten Years After with an Alasatian Rotenber­ger). Not your cup of tea? Try smoked pork ribs with fish sauce and palm sugar syrup (Hank Williams and Pappy Van Winkle bourbon), a turmeric and coconut milk roast chicken with celery mostarda (13th Floor Elevators' "Splash 1," with a 2006 Coulaine Chinon), or lettuce cups with raw oysters, kimchee, and bacon (Stevie Wonder's "Innervisions," and Satoh Shochu). With this groundbreaking volume, Pelaccio brings us free spirited, passionate food that takes a novel approach to the new American table.

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