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Thai Food [Hardcover]

David Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 27 2002
Renowned chef David Thompson first went to Thailand by mistake: a holiday plan had to be changed at the last minute, and he ended up in Bangkok, where he was seduced by the people, culture, and cuisine. Since that fateful trip some 20 years ago, Thailand has become David's second home. Working alongside cooks who perfected their craft in the Thai royal palaces, he began to document the traditional recipes and culinary techniques that have been handed down from generation to generation. The result is THAI FOOD, the most comprehensive account of this ancient and exotic cuisine ever published in English. David writes about Thailand and its food with an easy erudition, encouraging readers to cook and experiment, while simultaneously fostering a respect for the food and its stewardship through the ages. Although all the classic, well-loved recipes are here, this magnum opus features hundreds of lesser-known but equally authentic and delicious Thai dishes that will inspire cooks to go beyond green curry chicken and Thai fish cakes. David's passion and conviction are infectious; complemented by Earl Carter's superb photography, THAI FOOD captures all aspects of the dynamic Thai culture and cuisine.• Ten years in the making, this groundbreaking work is one of the cookbook publishing events of the decade.• The author's London restaurant, nahm, received a Michelin star in 2002, making it the first Thai restaurant to receive such an honor.• Photographed at David's restaurants in Sydney and London, and on location in Thailand, Earl Carter's superb images capture both the essence of Thai food and its rich cultural milieu.  Awards2003 James Beard Award Winner2003 IACP Award WinnerReviews“Stands out, dauntingly massive, brilliantly magisterial, and, at the same time, bustling with charm, observations, life.” —Saveur “[S]et a new standard for Asian cookbooks.”—Saveur (Top 100 Home Cook Edition)

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Thai Food + Thai Street Food + Vietnamese Home Cooking
Price For All Three: CDN$ 103.45

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Product Description

From Amazon

"Thai cooking is a paradox," writes Australian restaurateur David Thompson in his comprehensive and thus aptly named Thai Food. "It uses robustly flavored ingredients--garlic, shrimp paste, chilies, lemongrass--and yet when they are melded during cooking they arrive at a sophisticated and often subtle elegance." Pursuing this transformation in depth, his book presents hundreds of recipes that celebrate the Thai meal while exploring its historical and cultural context. Readers will delight in the wide selection of authentic dishes like Duck and Spring Onion Soup, Grilled Beef Salad, and Green Chicken Curry with Baby Corn, and relish Thompson's vast appreciation of his subject. Though the recipes are straightforward and workable once ingredients are assembled and techniques understood, those new to Thai cooking may want a less rigorous introduction to the subject. However, anyone with an appetite to explore it on Thompson's terms will benefit immensely.

Beginning with an exploration of Thailand's history and culture, the book then presents an extended section on rice, the centerpiece of the Thai meal. The "cookbook" follows, with a systematic introduction to the Thai kitchen, ingredients, and equipment. The chapter "Food Outside the Meal" is devoted to Thai snacks and vendor food, such as Stir-Fried Crisp Fish with Holy Basil. Noodle dishes include an exemplary pad thai, and sweet dishes like Grilled Bananas with Coconut Cream and Turmeric are also offered.

Readers should know that the recipes, published primarily for an Australian audience, give ingredients in a mix of metric and American measurements and/or with nonmetric equivalents, and that nomenclature is also sometimes foreign ("minced" for "ground" meat, for example). With photos throughout, the book sets a standard for Thai cookbooks to come while helping many cooks achieve the true, richly exotic cuisine. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

This collection of Thai cooking lore, history and recipes can be as daunting as it is comprehensive. A description of the country, its various socioeconomic groups (called muang) and its culinary history is lengthy and perhaps a little too in-depth. While Thompson's enthusiasm for his subject is palpable, readers may be anxious to get to the actual recipes, but the first one does not appear for nearly 200 pages, after an essay on Thai superstitions and a glossary of ingredients such as bai yor, a tobacco-like plant, and dried lily stalks. The recipes are thorough and authentic, and while they call for many items that may be hard to find, Thompson good-naturedly provides alternatives to most of them. Thailand's signature strong flavors are in evidence in dishes such as Bream Simmered with Pickled Garlic Syrup and a Salad of Pork, Young Ginger and Squid. Recipes are divided sensibly into soups, curries, salads and the like, but one chapter simply titled "Menus" contains various dishes that work together to form a traditional Thai meal (menus such as one that includes Prawn and Lemongrass Relish; Egg Mousse with Pineapple, Corn and Salted Duck Eggs; and Deep-Fried Bean Curd with Crab, Pork and Spring Onions are intriguing). A chapter on snacks and street foods offers additional tasty choices such as Rice Cakes with Chili, Prawn and Pork Sauce and Egg Nets, lacy crˆpe-like wrappers created by drizzling beaten egg into a hot wok that are stuffed with a pork and shrimp mixture. The dessert chapter also provides instructions for creating Smoked Water, flavored using a special candle with a wick on both ends.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Fari
I recommend this book only for serious enthusiasts who are truly passionate about authentic Thai cooking/food and are not looking for quick, adapted recipes!
Having enjoyed authentic Thai food during my trips to Thailand, I am repeatedly disappointed with the adapted versions found in most local restaurants here. Since I am an avid cook, I have been experimenting to replicate the dishes I had in Thailand.
After some research I found David Thompson's "Thai Food" to be a rare find. Most Thai cook books I have come across provide adapted recipes with shortcuts and suggested substitutes for ingredients! How dreadful! Undoubtedly, Thai food involves much effort and can even be tedious. But the taste is well worth it. More importantly, ingredients in Thai cooking CAN NOT be substituted if the REAL flavor and aroma are to be achieved. For example, if you are going to substitute regular ginger for galangal (Thai ginger), or lime zest for kaffir lime zest, as many books suggest - you may as well not cook Thai food!
This is what sets David's book apart from the rest - he sticks to the real stuff! He painstakingly explains all the details of real Thai cooking, discussing each ingredient and various techniques followed by the recipes. While some recipes are quite cumbersome or require ingredients which are not easily available, the book is worth the insight it provides into authentic Thai cuisine. Once you understand the basics, you can be creative by combing basic Thai ingredients with techniques and create your own recipes without straying from the flavors, tastes and aroma of REAL Thai cuisine!
One complaint however: where is the recipe for Yum Woon Sen??
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible book with ONE flaw Oct. 4 2002
Let's start with the positives: extremely thorough review of the Thai experience. Thompson breaks down every ingredient and discusses it thoroughly. Beautifully done with great pictures. You'll learn allot about Thailand from this book.
The downside? Well there are allot of steps and that's not Thompson's fault but part of the Thai culinary scene. The ingredients on the other hand could be cheeky for people out of a cosmopolitan city like NYC to obtain: lemon grass, fish sauce, galonga. But the worst was no recipe for fish sauce, which I did find in Mai Pham's book on Vietnamese cooking (its anchovy based:-). Unfortunately most commerical fish sauces are msg prepared and being allergic to it I was hoping for a way to make this myself (fish sauce is a staple of most SE Asian food, Thai included, btw). Alas though not forthcoming Thompson does tell us that the commercially prepared varieties are quite good.
Still, despite this, I did not downgrade the book on that account because I think that this is best book on Thai food I've ever seen & I own The Beautiful Thai Cookbook & What's Thai. I would recommend neither after reading/using Thompson's book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic April 27 2003
This is the one. The definitive guide to Thai cuisine. Having lived in Thailand I can say that this book is destined to be a classic. Thorough is an understatement. Beautiful design and photography. The only fault is a disappointing Thai transliteration system devised by the author and no Thai script to back it up. But the average reader will have no use for Thai script anyway. This isn't a weekend cookbook, it's Larousse. And that's why it's great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic work, a must for every cook Nov. 10 2002
By A Customer
This book was obviously a labour of love. David writes beautifully, and, if the first two recipes I have tried are anything to go by, the book gives supurb results. As David has spent the last decade running very successful Thai restaurants, he knows what he is talking about.
I am just learning to cook Thai food. I can see this book guiding me for several years as I enjoy this new hobby.
This is a high quality book and I highly recommned its purchase.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A serious book March 10 2004
This is one awesome book!
Being a professional chef myself, this is the one and only Thai cookbook you need if you are getting into some serious and authentic Thai cooking. I personally, have learn't so much from this book.
Also, it might be be noted, that David Thompson, being an Australian, was commissioned by the Thai government to authenticate the traditional Thai recipes! For a government to to do, this is such an honour!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vast, and definitely worth the effort March 9 2003
After cooking about the fifth dish from this book ("Stir Fried Beef with Spices") with palate-boggling success , I would like to recommend this book to anybody serious about Thai cooking. While there are no shortcuts (consistent with the author's view to keep things as original as possible) the result is well worth the effort. Some things sound more complicated than they are. Furthermore, this is the first Thai cookbook out of the five or six I have got which explains in detail some really important techniques (like the cracking of coconut cream and why this is important for frying curry pastes). The background chapters are highly recommended.
My two open questions are why the Gaeng Panaeng is far from "dry" (with about five cups of coconut milk/cream) and why there is no recipe for Yam Wun Sen (a favourite of my Thai girlfriend, and I thought it was a classic dish). But these are minor points and maybe there is a good reason (I would be curious to learn).
All in all: Highly recommended, together with "Vatch" Bhumichitr's books (whose writing style and inside country knowledge I also like very much) my favourite cookbook.
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