Austin chef and restaurateur Eric Silverstein’s new cookbook, The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food From Tokyo to Texas based on his Southern-Asian restaurant of the same name, serves as a combination memoir, motivational book, and recipe index all in one. The book publishes on Tuesday, May 7 through Sterling Epicure.
The main goal of Peached the cookbook is to inspire people. “I wasn’t in it to make money,” Silverstein said. “I was in it to really tell a story.” In summary: Midwest lawyer who quit his job, moved to Austin, and opened a food truck.
Silverstein decided, much in the spirit of the food truck, to take charge. He wrote it himself, tested the recipes at home, coordinated the photography (even opting to send his photographer Carli Rene to Japan), and signed off on the design.
The restaurant, its menu, and ultimately, this cookbook, are a confluence of Silverstein’s heritage and upbringing: raised by a Chinese-American mother and Jewish-American father in Tokyo and Atlanta. While growing up in Japan and attending an international school, he struggled with his identity, but ultimately, he was exposed to all sorts of cultures.
“I don’t like American fast food, but I will go to Japan and eat the fast food,” Silverstein said. The Japanese-based fast food chains, like McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, offered different dishes than their American counterparts. “Food [...] inspired me in a lot of ways and it was a big part of me. I think it’s just a bigger part of who you are in Asia.”
Peached’s cover depicts one of the restaurant’s fusion tacos — the banh mi taco — which Silverstein admitted wasn’t his first choice because “we’re cooking more than tacos here.
“This isn’t a taco book,” Silverstein continued. And the cookbook does go way beyond just tacos. All of the restaurant’s hit dishes are featured (Hainan chicken, Japajam burger), some home recipes (congee), as well as items from Peached’s food truck days and Silverstein’s way-back-when truck Yume Burger (the Japanese-American hot dog, tempura catfish burger), and much more.
To make the book more accessible to readers, Silverstein made sure to include glossaries covering noodles and general Asian food, preferred usage of ingredients (whole chickens) and equipment (immersion circulators), and technique recommendations (how to make the perfect six-minute egg). Many of the supermarket/product shoots even happened at Austin’s very own Hana World Market.
The first and foremost role of The Peached Tortilla cookbook, though, is to spread the awareness of the restaurant to the rest of the country. And then, secondly, and maybe more importantly, it’s to help people realize their true dreams.
“This story resonates beyond just food and food trucks,” Silverstein said. “I think it resonates with anyone who perhaps is not fully satisfied with their life, and that’s always been my message to people.” If you want to do something, then, well, do something.
“If I can touch some people with the book, and they can pursue what they want with their dreams, Silverstein continued, then, “this book is a success.”
As part of the release, there are two book signings scheduled in Austin. The first takes place at BookPeople on Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. Peached’s food truck will serve free tacos and kimchi balls to people with proof of book purchase. Then there’s a signing at Barnes and Noble in the Arboretum on Saturday, May 11 at 2 p.m.
Preview The Peached Tortilla with the following spreads below, covering Silverstein’s introduction, recipes dishes like Korean braised short ribs to banh mi tacos, to the noodle glossary.
Reprinted with permission from The Peached Tortilla © 2019 Eric Silverstein. Published by Sterling Epicure. Photography © Carli Rene/InkedFingers