"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
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Thai Food gives the most comprehensive account of this ancient and exotic cuisine ever published in English. David Thompson shares his passion for the unique style of cooking that he believes to be one of the world's greatest cuisines. He provides over 300 mouthwatering recipes, from the simple, honest flavour of a classic pat thai or the refreshing tang of a Green Papaya Salad to such elaborate creations as Green Curry of Trout Dumplings with Apple Eggplants or Stir-fried Crispy Fish Cakes with Pork and Salted Eggs. A series of introductory chapters examine the role of food in Thai culture and society, offer guidance on ingredients, with notes on availability and subsitutions, and explain the essential techniques of Thai cookery. More than 50 menus provide ideas for combining Thai dishes. Beautifully written, and complemented by superb photography, this book captures all aspects of this diverse culinary culture.