Cookbook Review: Thai Street Food by David Thompson
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Thai culture, the beautiful palaces and temples, and the pristine beaches top the list of reasons people love to visit my home country of Thailand. But the food, which is highly delectable and inexpensive, remains a clear favorite for many visitors.
The wide variety of Thai dishes and busy streets jam-packed with food stalls keep hungry tourists returning to Thailand for more savory, enjoyable meals. Such was the case with the Sydney-born restaurant owner and renowned chef David Thompson.
Thompson's first visit to the Siamese kingdom dated back in the 1980s; since then, he’s made countless trips back, keeping a journal of his experiences with Thai cuisine, recipes, and Thai people. Thompson's travelogue and recipes can be found in his latest collection on Thai cuisine, Thai Street Food: Authentic Recipes, Vibrant Traditions.
Thai Street Food is not just a simple, ordinary cookbook. This heavy, 372-page volume contains lesser-known, authentic recipes of rice and noodle dishes, stir-fry, curries, soups, sweets, and snacks that are sold at markets and on the streets of Thailand. The book is a showcase of Thompson's own favorites selected and compiled over decades of researching.
The stunning photographs will make your mouth water. Check out the recipes for green papaya salad, grilled pork skewers, and charred rice noodles and chicken with thickened gravy. For scrumptious desserts, try the boiled sticky rice and banana or the yellow sugar plant pudding.
In addition to colorful photographs of the tasty morsels, this cookbook offers interesting snapshots of every day Thai life. The highlights are pictures of street hawkers pushing carts packed with aluminum pots full of curries and shots of boat vendors with straw hats selling fresh fruits and produce at the floating market.
What makes this book fascinating to me is Thompson's vast knowledge of Thai culture and cooking. In the beginning of every recipe, he provides background and history of the dish, helpful cooking tips interspersed with his own vivid travel anecdotes. The cooking instructions are rich in details.
The Noodles and Noodle Soups sectionfeatures delicious offerings such as mixed seafood and pork egg noodles. This delightful comfort food is easy to make with fewer ingredients and is great to be enjoyed with family and friends during a weekend gathering. Green papaya salad and grilled pork skewers are great in summer time and for an outdoor celebration such as the fourth of July.
Another plus about this cookbook is its ingredients and basic preparations section at the end of the book. The author gives an extensive list of ingredients that are essential in creating breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Authentic and authoritative, Thai Street Food will certainly capture any foodie's attention. Beware, though, that most recipes in this book are not for a novice of Thai cooking. I suggest readers who are new to Thai food try their hands on the noodle dishes before venture on a more complex recipe that requires longer preparation. However, once you become more familiar with the art of Thai cooking, the finished dishes are definitely worth your time and will fully satisfy your palate (and stomach).
Bon Appétit, everyone, and good luck on your Thai cooking adventure!
Other authentic Thai cookbooks:
- Thai food = Arharn Thai by David Thompson
- Classic Thai Cuisine by David Thompson
- Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott
- Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott
About the Author
Sukalaya Kenworthy is a senior library assistant and ESL instructor at the Westport Branch. Interested in learning English as a second language? E-mail Sukalaya or call 816.701.3488.