I could sum up the review of Russ Crandall’s new cookbook, Paleo Takeout, in just three words: BUY IT NOW. You could just quit reading now and jump over to Amazon and order your copy… but first take a second to scroll to the end of this post and check out the sneak preview recipe for Tom Kha Gai so that you’ll have something delicious to make and eat while you wait for your book to arrive!
UPDATE: Congratulations Kathleen F.! Check your email for directions on how to verify your entry.
If you are reading this post before June 29, you can also enter to win a copy at the bottom of this post. Simply post a comment telling me which recipe you are most excited about and then verify your entry using the Rafflecopter widget. Entries will close at midnight on Sunday, June 28 and a winner will be randomly selected and notified on June 29. [Open to US residents only.]
But seriously. You want this cookbook. It is unlike anything else in the paleo-sphere and raises the bar of quality in paleo cookbooks to a new level (and it was already pretty high to begin with!). I was thrilled to get an advance review copy and we have spent the last two weeks drooling over it, cooking from it, and enjoying every bite.
The whole food court is covered
Paleo Takeout includes over 200 recipes that recreate all your favorite takeout dishes and some you probably don’t even know yet are your favorites! The book is divided into four major sections and dishes run the gamut of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Filipino, American, Italian, Mexican, and Greek. You can see the full recipe list here and read below for my thoughts on the recipes we’ve tried and others we are excited to make soon.
Russ’s recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken is found in this section (as well as on his blog here) and he says is the recipe that started this whole project. Initially, he was going to create an much shorter e-book that focused on recreating classic Americanized Chinese takeout dishes, so it is no surprise that this section is packed full of yummy favorites. So far we’ve made the previously mentioned sweet and sour chicken as well as the fried rice and the hot and sour soup, both of which I documented on Instagram!
My husband is looking forward to trying the kung pao pork and I can’t wait to make my old humble but tasty favorite, beef with broccoli.
Japanese and Korean Favorites
We had the privilege of traveling to Japan last year to visit friends who are stationed over there with the Navy. Our trip was short and we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the local cuisine (and language barriers lead us to ordering using the “point and hope for the best method” sometimes!), but we did have a few delicious dishes that I was excited to see in this section. So far we’ve only had time to make the Japanese curry (S&B Oriental Curry Powder is the only unusual ingredient in this one – otherwise you probably have everything in your refrigerator or pantry already) but I can’t wait to make my own miso soup so I can recreate the traditional Japanese breakfast, and the okonomiyaki – a cabbage filled pancake that we enjoyed at a street fair the very first day we were in Japan.
We haven’t tried any of the Korean dishes yet, but are looking forward to the bulgogi and the different types of kimchi.
Southeast Asia and Beyond
So far, this is our favorite section. The first recipe here is the coconut soup tom kha gai, which I am thrilled Russ gave me permission to share with you even before the cookbook is officially released. You only need a couple specialty ingredients for this one (I’ve put links in the recipe to Amazon, for your convenience) and it is paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) friendly with just one minor modification.
From this section we have already made the Thai red curry, the butter chicken, and the chicken tikka masala. I know I will be making all three of these again, but probably not for a long time because there are so many other tasty dishes here that we can’t wait to try. That includes pad thai, massaman curry (which is apparently not of purely Thai origin, but is an interpretation of a Persian dish… see, this cookbook is going to make you smarter too!), the “faster pho,” and the grilled chicken adobo.
This section is a great representation of the American melting pot of cuisine. You’ve got your pizza, your wings, your burgers, and the great American chicken as sandwich, as nugget, and even fried in a bucket. I can vouch for the deliciousness of the pizza and one of the wing variations (there are 20!) and look forward to making the Italian and Mexican American dishes here soon, but my absolute favorite recipe so far is the gyro meat, also well documented on Instagram. I’d buy this cookbook for that recipe alone!
But what about convenience? I don’t have time to cook!
Honestly, is ordering takeout really that fast and convenient? It might be easy to just pick up the phone and let someone else do the cooking, but it isn’t necessarily faster. In the back of the book, each dish is categorized by how much time it takes to make. If you choose one of the “fridge to face in 30 minutes” dishes (Szechuan beef, Thai green curry, even calzones!) or reheat one of the “make-ahead deliciousness” dishes (sweet and sour chicken, burrito bowls, meatballs) you could batch cook and stash in your freezer, you will likely be chowing down in less time than it would take to find your menus, decide what to order, pick up the phone and wait while they put you on hold, drive to the takeout shop or wait for them to bring it to you, and then unpack the order and make sure they didn’t mix up what you asked for. And then what? You sit down and eat food that was mass produced from the cheapest possible ingredients, kept on a steam table or under warming lights for who knows how long, and is likely now lukewarm and soggy.
Consider the alternative scenario… You select a recipe from the huge array of choices in Paleo Takeout, use the healthiest and best ingredients your budget allows and select the options to customize the dish to meet your specific dietary needs, follow Russ’s very clear and easy directions, and then feel great about serving your family a dish that is healthier and probably cheaper than the restaurant takeout version and doesn’t sacrifice flavor in the least.
In fact, if your experience is like ours, you’ll find that many of these dishes taste even better than the so-called “real” thing. I don’t know why that should surprise us – after all, the restaurant versions are scaled for ease of production and economy, and often rely on huge amounts of salt, MSG, sugar, and cheap fats to fool our taste buds. Fresh food made from quality ingredients is always going to be more delicious and satisfying. Plus, I enjoy the food quite a bit more when I know that it is safe for me to eat and that it supports my principles of eating mostly organic produce and meat from animals that have been raised in a humane and sustainable manner.
A few words on ingredients… True, the recipes in this book call for specialty ingredients that are not in most typical American pantries. I happen to live in a city that has a lot of local international markets and could probably get everything locally, but before I reviewed the book I wanted to make sure that I could recommend it even to people who might not have that available to them. Fortunately, in the era of Amazon, virtually everything you need can be ordered online and in your hands in just a couple of days. Russ has even put together a complete shopping list here if you want to just stock your pantry in a single click!
But what about my healing diet?
One of the things I really love about this book is the flexibility built right into it. Take noodles, for example. Noodles are a key element in many of these takeout classics and would therefore make them inherently non-paleo, right? Wrong. In actuality, every dietary restriction is accommodated, from rice noodles to spiralized vegetables to kelp noodles to sweet potato noodles. That means that you can make the noodle dishes whether you are eating a “safe starch” paleo diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), the low-FODMAP diet, following a Whole 30, or even on a strict elimination diet like the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP)!
Additionally, Russ has created an exhaustive and impressive guide to modifying the recipes for both the Whole 30 and for AIP, which you can check out here. These modifications make over 90% of the recipes Whole 30 compliant and 80% AIP-friendly!
Modifying for SCD or low-FODMAP will require you to have knowledge of your own restrictions and some dishes will still be off limits, but you will still find many that you can make and enjoy!
Now, on to that sneak preview recipe I told you about…
Tom Kha Gai recipe from Paleo TakeoutPrint
Tom Kha Gai (with AIP Modifications) and a review of Paleo Takeout
- SOUP BASE:
- 4 cups Chicken Broth
- 2 cups water
- 6 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn, or grated zest of 1 lime
- 2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 inches galangal or ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb total), thinly sliced
- 1 (14 oz) can full-fat coconut milk
- 6 oz mushrooms (straw, enoki, shiitake, oyster, or white; see note)
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- juice of 1/2 lime (1 tbsp)
- 1 tsp coconut palm sugar or honey (optional – omit for Whole30)
- sea salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
- TO GARNISH:
- large handful of fresh cilantro, stems included, chopped
- Thai Chili Oil (omit for AIP)
- Combine the soup base ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Strain and discard the solids, returning the broth to the stockpot.
- Add the chicken to the broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and mushrooms and simmer until the mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes, then add the fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Taste and add salt and more fish sauce and lime juice if desired.
- Serve garnished with cilantro and Thai Chili Oil.
If using shiitake mushrooms, remove the stems before cooking—they are too tough to eat.
Optional ingredients to consider when adding the mushrooms: Chinese cabbage, bell pepper, and carrots.
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57 replies on “Tom Kha Gai (with AIP Modifications) and a review of Paleo Takeout”
Make sure you comment here to be entered to win! I will verify all entries…
Gyoza bites sound amazing!! I miss gyoza!
I tested the butter chicken and creamy shrimp dishes in the Facebook group. So I can’t wait to make those again, but I really want to try the bulgogi among, oh, all the dishes!
That butter chicken is incredible!!
i miss korean food since going gluten free so the bulgogi sounds amazing
Me too! That’s near the top of our list of dishes to try next.
I’m excited to make the butter chicken!
You will love it!
Your picture of the Tom Kah Gai looks scrumptious. I can’t wait for the book to come out!
I’m looking forward to the bulgogi!
I am actually super excited the spring roll recipe. I miss Chinese food tremendously. So actually the cauliflower fried rice sounds amazing as well!
Ooooh I can’t wait for the book to come out! I agree about takeout… By the time you decide what you want and actually eat the food, you could have often whipped up something in the kitchen! Especially with options that sound so delicious!
The curries look fabulous, but I think having the sauce recipes in the back of the book would be pretty great, too! Russ does an amazing job recreating authentic ethnic dishes!
Russ’s recipes have never let me down!
Oops, sorry… Left out the part where I am excited to try out the PIZZA recipes! Nom nom nom!
General Tso’s Chicken! Really…90% of the Asian dishes haha 🙂
Lumpia! Curries! Pho! It all sounds delicious!
I am excited to try the Mongolian beef.
I am excited to try the pizza.
Can’t wait to try the butter chicken recipe!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win!
Russ Crandell’s Sweet and Sour Chicken. Or everything else in the Paleo TakeOut book especially pizza!
Honestly? I am excited to try all of them! I haven’t had take out in the 7 years since I was diagnosis with Celiac disease, and take out *anything * is delicious! If I had to choose just one, I would say bulgogi.
I’m super excited about everything but I can’t wait to make the Hot and Sour soup!
It is incredible!
Looking forward to trying the pizza
I am so excited about this cookbook!!
The pizza! And anything thai 🙂
Wow! “pizza that’s better than delivery” sounds amazing!
I’m so excited about this cookbook! I started medical school last year and totally fell off the healthy eating wagon. I can tell in pretty much every aspect of my life, so I’ve started back on it this week. Variety is SO key for me. I’m most excited about the pho and meatballs!
This book sounds wonderful. Looking forward to anything Chinese.
I started following thedomesticman on Pinterest and have been trying his recipes. Every one was wonderful.
If I can choose only one-Gyoza bites….I miss gyoza terribly. Then I may have to cook my way though the book.
I want to try the Sweet and Sour Chicken
I can’t wait to try this tom kha gai, which I’m making for lunch tomorrow, and the Thai red curry! I saw his modifications for AIP curry dish. They sound interesting! I just started AIP and am so excited to have found this recipe and your blog. 🙂
I just made this and it’s delicious! Thank you. I can’t wait to get my hands on Paleo Takeout so I can try the curry dishes next! 🙂
I miss stir frys and other Chinese food! So anything like that would be the first thing I’d make! 🙂
Chicken fettucine alfredo is calling my name right now!
I’d love to make the bulgogi for my family. 🙂
Super excited for his take on sweet and sour chicken! Never dreamed of a healthy version of any of these!!
Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! Since going AIP it’s the one thing I miss desperately!
I’m in such a food rut, I’d be thrilled to try anything from this book. 🙂 I can’t believe the effort Russ went to to provide AIP substitutions. So appreciative.
I’m most excited to try the sweet and sour chicken and the butter chicken. They both sound yummy.
Massaman curry?!?!? Are you kidding me?? Holy crow! I need that…along with about half the other recipes. Serious yum…
This book sounds too good to be true 🙂
I have an 18 year old who is begrudgingly joining me most days on my AIP journey but most of my cooking for him is paleo. He misses his take aways as we don’t do that anymore., so do I for that matter! He is currently into the new Aussie craze of American fastfood so any of those would be great
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The book sounds promising, but can anyone give feed back on recipes they have actually followed?
How can people give a star rating on something they think sounds good but have not tried.
I am looking for real feed back. Hope someone can help.
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This looks awesome! Glad to hear it was good with beef too, as that is what I am more likely to have on hand.
[…] Tom Kha Gai (freezer version) […]
What do you think about leaving out the mushrooms? Nobody in my family likes them; we always pick them out when we get takeout Tom Kha!