Americans love Thai food. Among the best cookbooks exploring this rich, tantalizing cuisine is chef-restaurateur Su-Mei Yu's Cracking the Coconut. Insisting that there can be no true Thai cooking without homemade "core" preparations (such as various chili pastes), Yu includes precise, accessible recipes for these and other essential ingredients while outlining fundamental techniques in vivid detail. Readers learn the proper hand motions for cracking a coconut, how to wrap ingredients in banana leaves, and how to work a mortar and pestle, the central Thai-kitchen implement. The book's 175 recipes are divided between chapters devoted to essential ingredients or dishes. The chapter on Thai curry ("the signature dish") explores the basics of preparing this exciting fare and includes such delicious recipes as Red Curry with Roasted Pork and Green Banana and Sweet Green Curry with Meatballs. A chapter called "The Secret of Thai Salads" offers recipes for a small repertoire of essential dressings and such tempting recipes as Apricot, Shrimp, and Pork Salad and a salad-feast called, simply, Lamb and Roast Duck. Yu provides cultural notes and cooking lore throughout the book, often drawing from her recipe-hunting travels abroad. It's hard to imagine a better start for anyone wishing to "cook Thai" than this fully illustrated book, which perfectly balances recipes and instruction to make it an innovative standout. --Arthur Boehm
Owner of San Diego's Saffron Restaurant, Yu takes her Thai cooking seriously: she expects readers to pound curry pastes by hand in a mortar and pestle (a process that takes about 30 minutes)Dand don't even think about using canned coconut milk unless absolutely necessary. In compensation for all this work, Yu provides flawless and authentic recipes full of the fresh flavors of Thailand, such as Grilled Mackerel Salad with pickled garlic, coconut and peanuts and Beef and Pumpkin Stew with kabocha squash and cilantro. Recipes are organized loosely according to main ingredients, and in one chapter simply because they represent "The Thai Philosophy of Food," which consists of juxtaposing contrasting tastes. A chapter on fiery curries includes Red Curry with Roasted Pork and Green Banana and Sour-Orange Curry with Tender Vegetables. Aside from the work of grinding the curry paste, these can be assembled relatively quickly. Another chapter focuses on "The Big Four Seasonings," or salt, garlic, coriander root and peppercorns, and provides a recipe for a paste of the four that can be used in everything from fish batter and deep-frying batter to meatloaf. Noodle dishes are both hot (several types of Pad Thai) and cold (Cool Noodles with Jungle-Style Sauce). Thai salads are original and refreshing: Pomelo and Shrimp Salad and Banana Blossoms with Chicken Salad. Yu also writes beautifully of her own experiences cooking and eating in Thailand. For Thai novices and for those who are seeking to delve more deeply into this sophisticated and often surprising cuisine, this book is a must-have.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
I will probably have to buy a new copy in the next couple of years because the one I currently own is falling apart...especially the sections on making curry pastes. Read morePublished on May 15 2004 by "bertsayers"
This is the best book on Thai cooking I have come across. I beleive it would be the only book I would like to be a castaway with. Read morePublished on March 9 2003 by Brian Sunderland
I have travelled extensively around the world. I have had truly wonderful authentic meals and some horrible ones too.
I own this book and love it. Read more
Sawadee kha. I lived in Thailand for more than 2 years and have frequently travelled back there since, to say that I enjoy eating and cooking Thai food would be an... Read morePublished on Sept. 28 2000
Cracking the Coconut is quite interesting in exploring traditional Thai cooking as it was done historically. It is a good read but somewhat less useful as a cookbook. Read morePublished on Aug. 12 2000 by Eugene Stiles
It's clear from the very outset, that Su Mei Yu has a great passion, as well as knowledge and skill when it comes to Thai cooking. She shares them all beautifully in this book. Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2000 by Charlie
I am always trying to find new and fun cookbooks for my best friend who is an avid kitchen experimenter. Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2000 by Jane Moore
"Cracking The Coconut" is much, much more than a Thai cookbook. Within the pages of this book, the reader will learn Thai history and food history. Read morePublished on Aug. 4 2000 by Paula A. Armstrong