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Read All About It : From once-obscure Asian cuisines to classic French to the lastest grain craze, the variety of cookbooks available for gift giving swells as Christmas approaches. To help cull the best from the rest, The Times' Food Staff has reviewed the year's most intriguing cookbooks. : Fragrant Harbor Taste by Ken Hom, (Simon & Schuster: $24.95, 303 pages, illustrated)

December 17, 1989|ROSE DOSTI

The trend toward travelogue/cookbook should be comforting news to noncooks who love to read cookbooks for the sake of knowledge, vicarious pleasure and keeping the kitchen as spotless as possible. Well, Hom's book is just the ticket. If you cook, so much the better, for in the book you will find recipes using ingredients that exist, not in China, but in Hong Kong, an expansive cuisine that dazzles the visitor: Cantonese shrimp with asparagus, gingery chicken wings with pineapple and velvet shrimp with mango that, Hom points out, reflect Hong Kong's eagerness to incorporate the flavors of Southeast Asia. But it really isn't necessary to cook in order to enjoy the book.

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