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Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen Hardcover – May 13, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607745232
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607745235
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Many ethnic cuisines seem forbidding to the home chef because exotic ingredients aren’t readily available and because of the required painstaking (and time-consuming) preparations. Relax in the hands of newbie author and experienced food-blogger Punyaratabandhu, who streamlines her way to the table with popular dishes like satay, pad thai, curries, and congees, among others. Not content with simplifying instructions, she also identifies which foodstuffs can accept substitutes and which can’t (like lemongrass and galangal). Even better, there’s an appended list of online ordering sources for those nonmetro dwellers. The more than 100 recipes fall into one of four categories: noshes and nibbles, rice accompaniments, one-plate or bowl meals, and sweets, each with a colorful preface. With her instructions (and assurances), readers just might try oxtail soup, rice congee with pork dumplings and eggs, herb-baked cashews, and pumpkin custard. Many of the basic recipes that inform Thai cooking are gathered at the back, from steamed glutinous rice (aka sticky rice) to all types of curry paste. This is a new appreciation for a quiet cuisine. --Barbara Jacobs


"Thai has long been underrepresented in my pantry, my refrigerator and on my cookbook shelves because I never felt I had enough support to cook much beyond a beef curry made with canned coconut milk and a commercial red curry paste. Punyaratabandhu's practical and calming tone -- plus her delicious-sounding recipes -- make me want to do much more Thai cooking." - The Chicago Tribune

"I have generally found "Quick," "Easy," and "Simple" to be disingenuous labels when it comes to Thai cookbooks [...] But Punyaratabandhu seems to pull it off, coming up with recipes that are weeknight-doable yet electric with ingredients you can just about find if you try hard (dried shrimp, kaffir lime leaf, palm sugar). Shortcuts or not, they're desperately delicious." - National Public Radio

"Punyaratabandhu [...] does simplify the complexity of Thai cuisine. The author walks the home cook through all the stages of meal preparation, from making green curry paste from scratch to chutneys and desserts [...] To write this book, she travelled back to Bangkok where she visited friends and family and interviewed street vendors and other cooks so she could best capture the flavours of her home country in a way that a North American could get." - The Globe and Mail

"... The work developed into this, her first cookbook, and it shows a confidence and care absent in many books by more seasoned authors. [...] "Simple Thai Food" is what it says: unusually simple, and still really Thai. It's written with grace, dedication, and humor, and there's nothing like it on the market. [...] In other words, if you want a single Thai book, this is it." - The Boston Globe

Best Book of 2014, NPR
Best Cookbook of 2014, The Globe and Mail

Best Cookbooks of 2014—Serious Eats

Simple Thai Food is just what folks need: a simple, easy-to-follow cookbook on a delicious cuisine (and one of my favorites!) that most people aren’t used to making at home. With clear, friendly instructions and valuable tips and techniques, Leela unlocks the flavors and seasonings of real Thai cooking—spicy salads, coconut-rich soups, blazing bowls of curry, and the fiery, flavorful condiments that go alongside. Thanks to Leela, I’m excited to create these authentic Thai dishes in my own kitchen!” 
—David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen 
“In this compendium of favorite Thai dishes, Leela has managed to make the recipes accessible and straightforward for a home cook, and to keep them very true to what a modern Thai cook (in Thailand as well as in the West) would recognize as ‘authentic.’ She does offer substitutions when ingredients are more difficult to find, but they never skew far from what a Thai mom would use in her own kitchen. Leela even sneaks in a few dishes that you might not find in your local Thai restaurant, but will probably become your favorites!” 
—Andy Ricker, chef/owner of the Pok Pok restaurants and author of Pok Pok 
“Leela has crafted an authoritative, opinionated, and thoroughly down-to-earth collection of traditional Thai recipes, written especially for cooks who weren’t lucky enough to be born in Thailand. All the basics are here, beautifully organized, from curry paste to coconut milk and beyond.” 
—David Tanis, author of One Good Dish
Simple Thai Food is a beautiful snapshot of Leela’s effort to stay connected to her Bangkok roots through food, and a wonderfully practical guide for those of us who want to create authentic Thai flavors at home.” 
—James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur and author of Cradle of Flavor
“Leela re-creates her beloved taste memories, and then invites us in—offering tools, inspiration, and fresh context in equal measure. You will want these recipes for so many reasons—the craft, joy, deliciousness, backstory—and you will want (and come close to experiencing) Leela herself at your table, imparting her fine intelligence and warmth.” 
—Mollie Katzen, author of The Moosewood Cookbook and The Heart of the Plate

Customer Reviews

I tried a number of recipes and liked them all.
I totally recommend it to those who want to cook Thai food in their own kitchen!!!
And the cooking instructions are detailed and easy to follow.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By I Do the Speed Limit TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
If you like her blog, you will love this cookbook! But be aware, "simple" does not mean quick. And, "simple" does not necessarily mean suitable for week night cooking. And, "simple" does not mean few ingredients, either.

I gave serious thought to my star-rating for this book. (Well, I always give my review ratings serious thought, but this one seemed to be a tougher decision.) Four stars just does not do justice to this book, but it's not a perfect five-star book either....I hope you all don't mind that I've decided on a 4.5 rating, and on Amazon's scale, I've rounded it up. I don't consider it a cop-out: No. I have trouble with the word "Simple" in the title, but there is SO MUCH worthy in this book that it's better than a four-star.

Having some knowledge of Thai foods and having looked at Leela's blog, I should have known that "Simple" Thai Food was a misnomer--at least for me. While I have access to Thai ingredients by way of a home garden and a weekly trip up to the big city, I don't always have access to beautiful fresh fish. And I did not grow up in house where wok cooking and deep frying were everyday occurrences.

I guess I'm saying that "unfamiliar" is rarely "simple", and what is "familiar" is always "simpler.

I have no trouble following her instructions or finding the ingredients, but the recipes are a learning experience for me, therefore, they take more time than I am willing to spend for a week night meal.

Ms. Punyaratabandhu strives to be authentic, and that is very admirable. Some people will purchase this book because they can trust the authenticity of its recipes, and because the dishes remind them of their heritage.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lisa C on June 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me start by saying that I have lived in Thailand for the past two years. Some other reviewers have mentioned the title of the book perhaps being something of a misnomer. I can understand that sentiment, but I disagree. This cookbook is is all about simple Thai food. Not American-simple, "ready in 20 minutes using ingredients always in your pantry," but simple as in truly, simply, the food that is served in Thai homes. Not trendy restaurant Thai, not Thai fusion, not Thai-influenced: simply, Thai.

The recipes are authentic, the instructions detailed, the photography beautiful. Leela gives acceptable substitutes for potentially hard-to-find ingredients when they exist, and when a substitute just won't do she makes that clear as well. She also includes an introduction for most recipes which includes where she got the recipe or the traditional background of that food. In short, this is the perfect cookbook for someone who simply wants to learn about and cook real Thai food.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rachael Herron on June 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Seriously, not only is the writing GREAT and the explanation clear, the recipes are to die for. I kind of don't want to eat anything but her food from here on out. She understands how flavors marry each other in a way I've never seen replicated in a cookbook. You need this. I love this.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew'sMom on July 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am a fan of Thai food - actually I am a fan of all internationally inspired food. I just received a copy of Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu and after reviewing it believe it is a must have for someone wanting to experiment with Thai flavors.

A few of the recipes I have marked to make - Pork Toast with Cucumber Relish (my husband is not a fan of seafood so this will be something along the lines of shrimp toast I can make and he can still enjoy); Stir-Fried Chicken with Chile Jam (the book includes a recipe for chile jam - but I have a wonderful jar from my friend Marc that I can use in this recipe); the photos for Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry look better than any cashew chicken I have ever made; Pad Thai (of course!); and one of my favorite Thai dishes - Spicy Basil Chicken and Fried Eggs on Rice. There are many seafood, rice and dessert dishes included as well as relishes, sauces and paste recipes.

I have many more complex and detailed Thai books -- but this book is approachable while giving complex flavors and professional looking dishes.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By K. L. Gallaher on May 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have followed the Author through her blog Shesimmmers (dot) com and through her She Simmers Facebook page and this book is true to them. The recipes are doable - they have a reasonable number of ingredients - which most Americans can get, and the results are true Thai - not Thai-American restaurant Thai.
I have made three meals from this book so far - the last Rice Noodles with Chicken and Chinese Broccoli. The family ate every bite. Yum,
Some recipes will be new to most, others familiar - but more authentic. The book give a lot of good tips and also ingredient substitutes where that is possible.
If you want to try Thai cooking this is a great choice.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Statistician on June 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've tried a number of Leela's recipes on shesimmers and they all worked out nicely the first time. On her blog, the instructions are complete, well-written, and always entertaining. The recipes in her book are equally good. Many (all?) of the recipes are gluten-free as well. Most of the recipes are suitable for a weeknight provided you have the ingredients on hand and you have a few common kitchen tools -- make sure your knives are sharp! Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Leela Punyaratabandhu is the author of the award-winning cooking blog, She Simmers. Her writing has appeared in CNN Travel, a website on Asian travel destinations by CNN International, and the food website Serious Eats. Dividing her time between Chicago and Bangkok, Leela's works focus on Thai food and Thai restaurants both in the United States and Thailand. She has conducted numerous interviews with chefs, restaurateurs, and Thai cuisine experts in both countries.