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Thai Food Hardcover – August 27, 2002


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Thai Food + Thai Street Food + Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (August 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580084621
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580084628
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Thai cooking is a paradox," writes Australian restaurateur David Thompson in his comprehensive and thus aptly named Thai Food. "It uses robustly flavored ingredients--garlic, shrimp paste, chilies, lemongrass--and yet when they are melded during cooking they arrive at a sophisticated and often subtle elegance." Pursuing this transformation in depth, his book presents hundreds of recipes that celebrate the Thai meal while exploring its historical and cultural context. Readers will delight in the wide selection of authentic dishes like Duck and Spring Onion Soup, Grilled Beef Salad, and Green Chicken Curry with Baby Corn, and relish Thompson's vast appreciation of his subject. Though the recipes are straightforward and workable once ingredients are assembled and techniques understood, those new to Thai cooking may want a less rigorous introduction to the subject. However, anyone with an appetite to explore it on Thompson's terms will benefit immensely.

Beginning with an exploration of Thailand's history and culture, the book then presents an extended section on rice, the centerpiece of the Thai meal. The "cookbook" follows, with a systematic introduction to the Thai kitchen, ingredients, and equipment. The chapter "Food Outside the Meal" is devoted to Thai snacks and vendor food, such as Stir-Fried Crisp Fish with Holy Basil. Noodle dishes include an exemplary pad thai, and sweet dishes like Grilled Bananas with Coconut Cream and Turmeric are also offered.

Readers should know that the recipes, published primarily for an Australian audience, give ingredients in a mix of metric and American measurements and/or with nonmetric equivalents, and that nomenclature is also sometimes foreign ("minced" for "ground" meat, for example). With photos throughout, the book sets a standard for Thai cookbooks to come while helping many cooks achieve the true, richly exotic cuisine. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

This collection of Thai cooking lore, history and recipes can be as daunting as it is comprehensive. A description of the country, its various socioeconomic groups (called muang) and its culinary history is lengthy and perhaps a little too in-depth. While Thompson's enthusiasm for his subject is palpable, readers may be anxious to get to the actual recipes, but the first one does not appear for nearly 200 pages, after an essay on Thai superstitions and a glossary of ingredients such as bai yor, a tobacco-like plant, and dried lily stalks. The recipes are thorough and authentic, and while they call for many items that may be hard to find, Thompson good-naturedly provides alternatives to most of them. Thailand's signature strong flavors are in evidence in dishes such as Bream Simmered with Pickled Garlic Syrup and a Salad of Pork, Young Ginger and Squid. Recipes are divided sensibly into soups, curries, salads and the like, but one chapter simply titled "Menus" contains various dishes that work together to form a traditional Thai meal (menus such as one that includes Prawn and Lemongrass Relish; Egg Mousse with Pineapple, Corn and Salted Duck Eggs; and Deep-Fried Bean Curd with Crab, Pork and Spring Onions are intriguing). A chapter on snacks and street foods offers additional tasty choices such as Rice Cakes with Chili, Prawn and Pork Sauce and Egg Nets, lacy crˆpe-like wrappers created by drizzling beaten egg into a hot wok that are stuffed with a pork and shrimp mixture. The dessert chapter also provides instructions for creating Smoked Water, flavored using a special candle with a wick on both ends.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most of recipes take time and requires you to make a lot of things from scratch.
Momof2Ks
After taking time reading through I have to admit, This book is the best Thai cook book written in English.
Mother of Twins
I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about Thai cooking.
F. Smeaton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 134 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on April 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
`Thai Food' by Australian chef, restaurant owner, and Thai food scholar David Thompson is one of those books which, if you have an enduring interest in food, you genuinely regret it took any more than a few days since its publication to acquire, read, and assimilate the book's material. It is one of those books where you can open it to virtually any page and find evidence of its quality.

I recall some reviews of this book which noted that although it was certainly comprehensive, it may be criticized for giving recipes containing hard to find ingredients. While I think this is a valid criticism of a book advertised as having recipes for the home cook such as `Vatch's Thai Kitchen' by chef Vatcharin Bhumichitr, it is not a valid criticism of a scholarly book where the object of the author is to present an accurate picture of a national cuisine. And, Thompson has done this as well or better than virtually every good survey of national cuisines I have reviewed such as Diane Kochilas `The Glorious Foods of Greece', Jean Anderson's smaller book on `The Food of Portugal', Marcella Hazan's `Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking', Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless various books on Mexican cuisines and the granddaddy of them all, Julia Child's `Mastering the Art of French Cooking'. This may be just a bit unfair to these authors, as not all of them were aiming at a grand scholarly treatment of an entire cuisine. Child, for example, was giving us `cuisine bourgeois', leaving the three other types of classic French cooking to others. Kennedy and Bayless have covered Mexico in not one, but in at least two or three different books, with Kennedy's latest, `From My Mexican Kitchen' being a model treatment of some special subjects in a national cuisine.
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74 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Fari on June 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recommend this book only for serious enthusiasts who are truly passionate about authentic Thai cooking/food and are not looking for quick, adapted recipes!

Having enjoyed authentic Thai food during my trips to Thailand, I am repeatedly disappointed with the adapted versions found in most local restaurants here. Since I am an avid cook, I have been experimenting to replicate the dishes I had in Thailand.

After some research I found David Thompson's "Thai Food" to be a rare find. Most Thai cook books I have come across provide adapted recipes with shortcuts and suggested substitutes for ingredients! How dreadful! Undoubtedly, Thai food involves much effort and can even be tedious. But the taste is well worth it. More importantly, ingredients in Thai cooking CAN NOT be substituted if the REAL flavor and aroma are to be achieved. For example, if you are going to substitute regular ginger for galangal (Thai ginger), or lime zest for kaffir lime zest, as many books suggest - you may as well not cook Thai food!

This is what sets David's book apart from the rest - he sticks to the real stuff! He painstakingly explains all the details of real Thai cooking, discussing each ingredient and various techniques followed by the recipes. While some recipes are quite cumbersome or require ingredients which are not easily available, the book is worth the insight it provides into authentic Thai cuisine. Once you understand the basics, you can be creative by combing basic Thai ingredients with techniques and create your own recipes without straying from the flavors, tastes and aroma of REAL Thai cuisine!

One complaint however: where is the recipe for Yum Woon Sen??
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By C. Souza on August 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first came across this book in the stores, I have to admit I was highly skeptical about the authenticity of the recipes contained in this book....was it by another Westerner who declared himself an expert on Thai food after one or two short vacations to the country? An Australian restaurateur you say? With an award-winning restaurant in London? Was the award judged by Thai people?

Thailand has a rich culinary heritage which has, in part, been shaped by foreign influences. Thai food in turn is a highly complex intermingling of tastes: salty, sour, sweet, spicy and umami (a Japanese term to indentify the 5th 'taste'). Furthermore it is a fairly impenetrable cuisine least of all because of the language barrier and the mysterious ingredients. To top things off this book was written by a non-Thai. That said, my initial concerns turned out to be completely unfounded and I am happy to say that this is one book that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who is serious about real Thai food. Needless to say, the book extends far beyond just Tom Yum Kung and Pad Thai!

At the beginning of the book, Thompson gives a brief (but highly informative)introduction to Thailand and its history, religion and regional cuisine which sets the tone for the rest of the book. There is also a whole chapter about the most common cooking techniques as well as ingredients. His recipes are written in a fairly conversational manner, which I really like, and, most importantly, he does not advocate taking shortcuts or making substitutions which the Thais wouldn't normally make/take themselves. Thompson clearly explains in his introduction that his reason for doing this is so that he doesn't compromise his goal of accurately capturing the Thai cuisine.
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