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4.7 out of 5 stars74
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on May 31, 2002
I first borrowed this book in 1993 from my neighbor who had lived in Thailand. I made about 4 things from the book--by the book--and invited her to dinner. She raved how perfect and authentic the flavors were. I kept the book awhile, made more recipes, and, being on a student budget but having plenty of time, copied those recipes I thought I might someday make (about three-quarters of them). The Burmese Chicken Curry was a hit from the beginning--when my wife's friend walked in the front door she remarked that it stung her NOSE just smelling the dish as it cooked!
Over the years I have made some fifty recipes from the book--soups, meat dishes, rice and noodle dishes, vegetarian dishes, seafood dishes, curry pastes, desserts--and nearly every one has been a huge hit with my wife and me. I've made so few different recipes because I've come back to many of them a dozen times or more. The Chicken Coconut Soup is my four-year-old son's favorite food, and he requests it often.
I finally bought the book for myself this year and have made several different recipes that I hadn't before. Some have hit my "frequently made" list already.
The book is visually stunning, with large appealing photographs of each dish, and with similarly beautiful photos of the countryside, divided up by region between the chapters of different foods. The recipes themselves are very easy to follow, and even those that have many ingredients usually only require a couple steps. Some require ingredients that you can only find in Asian food stores (like galangal) but even things like fish sauce and coconut milk are becoming more available in other supermarkets; and many recipes require nothing more exotic than fresh ingredients and soy sauce.
The only shortcoming I see in the book is a dearth of purely vegetarian dishes, but since Thai cooking seems to encourage improvisation, this can be remedied by substitutions. Despite this, I still consider this to be the best Thai cookbook I have (of six), the best Beautiful Cookbook I have (of six), and the best cookbook period that I have (of nearly 100).
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on June 8, 2000
When I moved to Mexico two years ago, I was forced to accept that it would be impractical to bring my library. So I spent a few hours looking at the volumes on the shelves to select the 20 or so books I felt I absolutely HAD to have with me. One of those books was Thailand The Beautiful Cookbook. Most of the time I open it, it's to find something to satisfy my craving for the sweet, pungent, rich and exotic flavours of Thai food. But other times I've simply lost myself in memories of a beautiful country - memories brought back by the stunningly evocative photographs which fill this book. Thai restaurants here in Mexico seem to be nothing more than a rumour. But Thai ingredients (or serviceable substitutes) are reasonably easy to buy. I have cooked from this book frequently for Mexican friends. Every one of them has been bowled over by flavours packed into the dishes placed in front of them. And if that's the response you want when you cook for friends, then I suggest you buy this book. For me, a Thai food fanatic a long way from Asia, it is essential.
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VINE VOICEon March 17, 2005
I have lived in Thailand and this book is the best cookbook I have found in the US. It made me very happy to be able to see Thai foods that are not offered in Thai restaurants in the US and not seen in other Thai cookbooks. Now I can finally have my Nam Gabi and Soup No Mai. (The spelling is different in the book.) I was happy to see both the Roman lettering and the true Thai word for the dish. It helps me figure out what the dish is and jogs my memory when reading the Thai. Thai food is great and I'm happy to see the recipes and the Thai regional information included.
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on September 20, 2002
I had the great fortune to live in Thailand for seven years. I never learned to cook because the food was too good and cheap in the markets. When I returned to the US I was given this cookbook and was, I'll admit, skeptical, because it's so big and glossy....'Just didn't look like a real cookbook.
It is an EXCELLENT cookbook for three reasons: First, everything I've made in it tastes authentic. Secondly, the photographic glossary clearly shows what different ingredients look like. Finally, almost every dish is pictured.
This, in combination with David Thompson's new cookbook, are the only two Thai cookbooks I'll ever need.
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on December 31, 2004
The recipes in this wonderfully illustrated book will give the reader a delicious taste of Thailand. It will not, however, give a 100% authentic taste of it. That may be good news to people who don't live near an Asian grocery where hard to find items necessary for authentic Thai cooking are to be found. Some of the recipes also save the reader time at the expense of authenticity. But unless you are obsessed with making something that tastes exactly as it does in Thailand, the recipes are close enough. This is one of the few books that break all recipes down by region, and that is important. I lived in Thailand for 3 years, with my in-laws for 1 year, and during that time I picked out tell-tale signs of authenticity. I've concluded that the most authentic Thai cookbook is "Thai Food" by Thompson (can't remember his first name.)

In sum, lovely pictures, delicious recipes, authentic enough but not absolutely authentic.
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on April 20, 2003
This is definitely a great book to have, both because of the recipes and the beautiful pictures, but the best Thai food I've ever made is from True Thai by Victor Sodsook. However, this book doesn't have any pictures and is for people who like it spicy. It does go into more detail about Thai cooking tips but has less about the culture of Thailand. Both are great to have and I use them both often.
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on July 28, 1999
I bought this book for my husband because I was traveling a lot, he loved Thai food and he needed to learn to cook. Little did I know what a gorgeous book it would be. My husband, who has lived in Thailand, tells me the recipes are authentic and easy to prepare (if you find fresh ingredients). He found this "cookbook" so yummy that he left me and opened a Thai restaurant in Australia. BUY THIS BOOK. . . BUT KEEP IT FOR YOURSELF!!!!!
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on February 22, 1999
Rarely does a cookbook of this beauty, completeness, and quality have so many practical recipies that real-life people can make - using ingredients you can actually find in the stores. Fabulous!
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on May 1, 2000
My husband and I love the recipes in this book! We have finally found the perfect Pad Thai recipe in this book after searching for about 5 years.
The price of this book is a little on the steep side but if you consider how much it costs to go out to Thai you can make back the price in 3 meals or less. The price was our deterrent before we purchase this book but now that we have it we can't stop using it. The wonderful photography and glossary are added bonuses.
The food is perfect in spiciness all though I am sure others would suggest adding more chilis. One of our other favorites is the green chili crab dish. I made this for my in-laws and it received rave reviews. Being from Seattle, we especially enjoy all the seafood dishes.
Enjoy this book because it is a feast for they eyes and stomach.
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on March 9, 2009
After owning this book for a while I wanted to provide an update. LOVE this book! It has become one of my favorites and my family makes requests all the time. My new sister-in-law is Thai and her parents came for a visit, they speak almost no English. I made a couple of the dishes from the book and they were a bit nervious but appeared shocked when they tasted the food. Said that it was VERY authentic and they wouldn't have believed I made it from scratch if they hadn't seen it. Very inspiring book and if you have an Asian market nearby you are in for a real treat.

This book is beautiful, the photos are pleasing and I like the fact they give you the Thai name as well as the English translation. The recipes are not too complicated and after trying out a number of them they are incredibly favorful and simiple to make.
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