Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Simple Thai Food, by Leela Punyaratabandhu

This is a wonderful manual for recreating authentic Thai cuisine. The ingredients used in Punyaratabandhu's recipes are traditional and fresh, if sometimes hard to find in the United States. It might have been useful to include more possible substitutions, although she does give some advice on how to find the more exotic ingredients. Rather than use prepared sauces or spice blends, she breaks down the basics of how to make these staples from scratch. She explains not only the methods of cooking Thai food, but the meanings behind the names of the dishes and sometimes even their origins. Interweaving personal stories and at times a dash of humor, Punyaratabandhu makes her cookbook enticing to read as well as to cook from. The title may be misleading to some: the recipes in this book are not simple, in that they require a good deal of planning, time and effort to prepare, although they are straightforward to follow, and the resulting flavor is basic comfort food to many. A worthwhile purchase for libraries, so that readers may try their hand at cooking Pad Thai or Jungle Curry without purchasing a book that might not be frequently used for the average home chef.

Cross-posted on NetGalley.

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