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Thai Food Hardcover – Aug 27 2002
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"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 crpe-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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Top Customer Reviews
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??
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.
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!
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.
Most recent customer reviews
very original recipes, and easy to understand instructions. I bought for son and he says that most of the ones he's tried, have come out wonderful and very tasteful.Published 6 months ago by neilbcca
This book is incredibly detailed and the recipes are time consuming.Published 18 months ago by Jeremy Rilkoff
All fine all good. In time. Good package. Right order. What else.Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book provides excellent guidance on how to create the very elusive flabour's of thai food. It's well worth it.Published 23 months ago by Carlo Amunategui
If you are looking for a complete thai cookbook, look no further than Thompson's. Having only gone through the introduction which gives you the coar and roots of thai cooking, I... Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2013 by RMG