We shall overcome carryout!
March 17, 2010 4:13 AM   Subscribe

We love Thai food! What's your favorite Thai cookbook?

The few Thai recipes we have tried at home have been delicious. We'd like to cook more Thai food and work through a cookbook. Do you have one that you like? We do live in a city and so are able to get ingredients of mid-range obscurity, if needed.

In the US, if that matters. But, we have a food scale, and so it isn't a problem if recipes are in grams.
posted by teragram to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
My roommate, a fellow mefite and Thai food expert, will be so mad that I got to recommend It Rains Fishes first.
posted by zoomorphic at 4:16 AM on March 17, 2010

David Thompson - Thai Food. All ye know, and all ye need to know.
posted by smoke at 4:43 AM on March 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

Seconding It Rains Fishes. It's the best introduction to Thai cooking you can get, in my humble opinion — it's a real cookbook, not just a recipe collection. And Loha-unchit's stories are great!
posted by fraula at 6:16 AM on March 17, 2010

zoomorphic's right, I am so mad that she recommended It Rains Fishes first! It's incredibly expensive on Amazon, but when I bought it a half-dozen years ago googling the ISBN gave me a place where I could buy it for $25.

The best part of It Rains Fishes is that the author goes out of the way to explain everything to you - it isn't just a compendium of recipes, but has long chapters and the why's and how's of every aspect of Thai cooking (in a personal and personable way).
posted by soma lkzx at 6:30 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding David Thompson. Not an introduction, and generally only uses impossible to find ingredients, but really authentic.
posted by roofus at 6:31 AM on March 17, 2010

Ah, looks like fraula's link to the author's site has a bunch of the book online, go through that before you buy anything! The most important thing you will ever ever do to improve your Thai cooking is complete her exercise on balancing flavors.
posted by soma lkzx at 6:36 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hot Sour Salty Sweet is arranged regionally like a travelogue or coffee table book, with beautiful pictures, but it has great recipes (175 of them!). I believe it won the James Beard award.
posted by Madamina at 7:03 AM on March 17, 2010

I had the David Thompson book, and while, intellectually, it's a very interesting book; it was so specific and detailed, that the barrier for actually cooking from it was too high for me to get over.
posted by ambilevous at 7:11 AM on March 17, 2010

Another David Thompson fan here. roofus is absolutely right about the ingredients, but the Thompson tome gave me an insight in the 'system' of that endless array of wonderful dishes that is the Thai kitchen. It is also an intimidating book, when you start cooking Asian for the first time.

If I crave Thai food on the way home from work, I watch the movies on this site with Thai Streetfood instructionals and I have my shopping list (and a noisy stomach).

The cooking styles presented in these videos are easy to do, with the simplest of equipment. Compared to the descriptions Thompson gives, it's cutting corners all around, but there are some nice tricks also - and boy, the really love their MSG...

And thanx soma lkzx! That exercise is incredible. I'll try to break down more sauces like that. It really makes you understand a taste, something which I find very difficult to do with Asian food.
posted by ouke at 7:32 AM on March 17, 2010

Thai and South-East Asian Cookbook has lots of good recipies
posted by exois at 7:37 AM on March 17, 2010

Not a book, but I really like ThaiTable.com. The tom yum soup with oyster mushroom recipe is terrific, and I've made Gai Pud King a lot (though with shiitake mushrooms instead of wood ear - I like it better that way - and I add string beans).
posted by wondermouse at 9:06 AM on March 17, 2010

I checked AbeBooks, Half.com, and Ebay, and the cheapest price I found of "It Rains Fishes" is $90! Goes upwards of $250.
posted by JABof72 at 9:25 AM on March 17, 2010

Nthing David Thompson. You might want to look on www.curryhouse.co.uk too; there are some nice basic recipes there. It's also worth remembering that as long as you have your paste right, you can do a lot of substituting in thai dishes, especially curries. In the winter, I often put things like cauliflower florets, carrots and purple sprouting broccoli in curries.
posted by rhymer at 11:54 AM on March 17, 2010

I've had good luck with True Thai. Although I've probably only made a half dozen recipes from it, they were all good.
posted by pombe at 12:20 PM on March 17, 2010

The book I usually recommend to newbie Thai cooks is Real Thai by Nancie McDermott, who learned her stuff as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. The recipes are good, mostly pretty easy, and don't require impossibly exotic ingredients. You'll find most of your favorite take-out dishes here.

If you're an experienced cook otherwise, Charmaine Solomon's Thai Cookbook is excellent, although she doesn't give detailed instructions. (Yikes - can't believe the price on Amazon!) Snap this one up if you ever find it at a reasonable price. It's one of those big coffee-table-type cookbooks, but the recipes are actually very good.
posted by Quietgal at 12:50 PM on March 17, 2010

Cracking the Coconut (Su-Mei Yu) is pretty fabulous. The author is from Thailand and owns 2 popular (and delicious!) restaurants in San Diego. Amazon carries some used copies cheapish. She also has 2 other cookbooks, if you enjoy this one. Me...I'll just go to Saffron and get her takeout. Yum!
posted by Z if for Zillah at 1:52 PM on March 17, 2010

Oh boy, thank you for the great responses! I love the sound It Rains Fishes, but I'll have to look for a better price. Will definitely do that tasting exercise soon, what a wonderful way to learn about flavors, you'd think I would have done that/thought to do that before.

Feel free to keep them coming. I imagine I will look for It Rains Fishes, the David Thompson book, or Hot Sour Salty Sweet, depending on what I kind find, and for how much. Can't wait to cook some of this stuff!
posted by teragram at 5:24 PM on March 17, 2010

« Older Connect me with people who need academic editing.   |   Is a great MA program worth the debt? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.