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Stop and smell the lemongrass

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You just can't avoid Asian food. With the amazing number of Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and Korean restaurants and markets around, you can't turn a corner without smelling basil or lemongrass. And, frankly, why would you want to?

But if you're not familiar with the ingredients on your plate or in the aisles, it may be a bit daunting. Sara Deseran, the food editor of Williams-Sonoma Taste, endeavors to calm your culinary fears with Asian Vegetables: From Long Beans to Lemongrass (Chronicle Books; $18.95; at most bookstores). The book is sectioned into "leafy" (like bok choy), "roots" (lotus and bean sprouts), "squashes," "beans" and "herbs" (galangal, lime leaves and chilis). Aside from lovely pictures on very nice paper, there are wonderful and intriguing recipes for the adventurous -- and a setup guide for the complete Asian kitchen. Whip up a batch of mizuna tonight.


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