I’ve been hoping to expand my horizons even more and learn how to cook some decent thai food. So, naturally, I’m looking for advice from Dopers. What books have you tried that you love? Are there any recipes you particularly recommend? Any recipes you would NOT recommend?
Thai Food by David Thompson. Not dumbed down in the least, beautiful photos, and great (perhaps too much) historical background. My favorite Thai dish is probably gai pad grapao (Thai holy basil chicken.) I make mine slightly different from Thompson’s version, and I will use Thai basil instead of holy basil often (as holy basil is sometimes difficult to find), but it’s a super-easy, super delicious dish, and my baseline at Thai restaurants.
Damn you. Now I have to post a “me too” instead of linking that book. I’ll also add that it’s really a lovely book, very evocative descriptions and generally an indepth introduction into something he obviously adores and knows much about.
Pad Thai is the most popular.
General’s Noodles is a favorite of mine. Noodles with pork, duck, peanuts, sugar and some broth for lubrication purposes.
Larb is sort of mediocre. I wouldn’t bother with it.
Thompson thirded. I have his previous book, Classic Thai Cuisine and use it all the time. I’ve made almost everything in it so far. It’s smaller, cheaper and more accessible than Thai Food which is a huge tome.
Oh, I was going to post that larb is probably my second favorite dish on Thai menus. Really, Thai cuisine is so varied, that you have to give everything a try and see what you like and don’t like. Top of my list are Holy basil chicken, larb, tom yum, green curry, mussaman curry, and any of a number of hot & sour curries (without coconut). Pad thai is probably the most popular and the most likely to please the most palates.
The thing with larb is it’s ground beef with onion and celantro or something. It just doesnt seem like anything special. Well now that I Googled it, maybe the restaurant just wasn’t very good at preparing it.
OH!! I forgot my most favoritest part of the Thai food experience. You can’t have a meal without Thai iced tea. It’s basically black tea, crushed ice and condensed milk.
I own this one, and liked it so much I got one for my brother too. True Thai: The Modern Art of Thai Cooking by Victor Sodsook
There’s a dumpling recipe made with shrimp and chicken that I just love. There’s a whole section on condiments, and one on vendor food, plus much more.
The recipes are easy to follow, the results were yumm.
The larb I get is usually chicken, cilantro and/or mint, garlic, lime, fish sauce, shallots, powdered chiles or chili pepper, and ground toasted rice. Lime + fish sauce + hot peppers is one of my favorite flavor combinations, so I don’t really need much more to make me happy.
Thanks for all the responses and recommendations so far. These books are fantastic. It’ll be hard to decide what to make first.
Hmm, I will probably have larb tonight. You are right, done poorly it’s nothing special. Done right, wow.
If you find yourself in Chicago, hit Spoon Thai or TAC Quick (order the specials there)
Just as a side note, Thompson’s Thai Food cookbook was mentioned in the latest issue of Saveur Magazine as one of their top 100 things for/regarding home cooks.