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Thai Cuisine Book Reviews

It Rains Fishes
by Kasma Loha-Unchit

A beautiful book from start to finish. With watercolors by Toby Goodenough and drawings by Margaret DeJong, this book is as visually stunning as the cuisine it explores. The book is organized into thirteen sections, from "Blessed by the Rice Mother" though "Curry -- A Way of Cooking Not a Yellow Powder" to "Thai Fast Food: Crowded Sidewalks and Waterways." Loha-Unchit has woven the tales and traditions of Thai cooking with recipes from her native land. She encourages the reader to experiment, and gives enough information about ingredients and terms so that one can test their own culinary wiles with abandon. As one reads the book, it is apparent that the recipes are an oral tradition. Hard facts (recipe yields, exact temperatures, visual clues) seemed to be based on the author's life-long experience as a Thai cook, rather than on individual testing of the recipes by another chef. (E.g.: in one recipe, garlic is supposed to be "chopped evenly" and, when cooked in oil, should "sizzle and not sink to the bottom before surfacing." I'm sure Loha-Unchit knows what she means, but I'm not sure I'm clear on the concept.) The book covers all my Thai favorites: Pad Thai, Dtom Kah Talay, and curry curry curry. The illustrations are wonderful and the tales inviting. Thai ingredients are described fully. I think I can probably figure out how to make garlic sizzle, surface and not sink...I'll consider it my own personal joy of Thai cooking.

Keo's Thai Cuisine
by Keo Sananikone

Sananikone's original Thai Cuisine ushered in a Thai revolution into kitchens across America and now it's back in a revised 190-page soft over edition, featuring lush new photography and more of the exotic recipes that have earned him an international reputation. Each chapter is structured to help a beginner understand the components and philosophy of Thai cuisine. Detailed instructions make creating tasty dishes such as Lobster with Pineapple, Steamed Fish in Banana Leaves, Honey-Glazed Spareribs, Roast Duck Salad and Crispy-Fried Shrimp a surprisingly simple feat. In addition to nearly 100 recipes, Keo's Thai Cuisine includes illustrated, step-by-step methods of making traditional Thai garnishes, a descriptive section on the ingredients most commonly used and a word to the wise about proper Thai cooking utensils.


Simply Thai Cooking
by Wandee Young & Byron Ayanoglu

Exotic Thai cook made easy. Over one hundred recipes that you can make easily by following the helpful guidelines and illustrations. From Spicey Pork with Red Chili Sauce to the sweet taste of Sweet and Sour Chicken, "Simply Thai" has it all.


The Vegetarian Table: Thailand
by Jacki Passmore

Based on the succulent noodles and rice, tangy sauces, crisp vegetables and pungent herbs and spices, Thai food is an ideal choice for today's health-conscious cooks. The carefully crafted recipes in this tome make the Thai flavor marvelously easy to achieve at home. This is an unbeatable collection of Thai dishes that Passmore has assembled here, which sidestep meat without missing any favorites. With more than 80 authentic recipes, she also provides invaluable tools for the newcomers to Thai cooking the vegetarian way. Chapters preceding recipes include notes on preparation and cooking, necessities for the Thai pantry, and a selection of basic recipes that include curry pastes, sauces, stocks and garnishes. Passmore's introductory notes are a treat, as she shares history, lore and personal experiences. Steven Rothfield's elegant color photographs reflect the luscious bounty and vivid palette of these wonderful recipes.

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