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36 Reviews
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105 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the Thai cookbook you want
This is it - the real thing. If you are choosing among Thai cookbooks, why not buy one written by a man who is both Thai and an excellent chef in his own U.S. restaurant? The author provides details that an outsider to Thai culture might never be privy to - the specific way a Thai cook fluffs his or her rice before serving; intricacies of street vendors' cooking -...
Published on June 26, 1999 by An Islander

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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not authentic, outdated Americanized Thai-Chinese cuisine!
Early on in this cookbook I ran across a shrimp and chili paste recipe, which the author (s? along with Sodsook, an American couple contributes recipes) "toned down for our American tastes", yet did not explain what was changed or how it was not authentic. That should have been the first clue that that tone would follow throughout the book and carry over to the recipes...
Published on June 29, 2009 by Achaea


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105 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the Thai cookbook you want, June 26, 1999
This is it - the real thing. If you are choosing among Thai cookbooks, why not buy one written by a man who is both Thai and an excellent chef in his own U.S. restaurant? The author provides details that an outsider to Thai culture might never be privy to - the specific way a Thai cook fluffs his or her rice before serving; intricacies of street vendors' cooking - which in Thailand, far from our hotdogs and pretzels, is an art unto itself; the specific condiments favored for each dish. On the other hand, unlike cookbooks I bought in Thailand, this book has been written with the equipment and availability of Thai ingredients of the Western cook in mind. The author understands both cultures and provides a wonderful education in his heritage in a manner you can easily reproduce at home (provided you have a wok, and access to fairly common ingredients such as fish sauce, coconut milk, cilantro, etc). When the authentic ingredient may be hard to come by, he provides substitutions, i.e. lime peel slices for Kaffir lime leaves. Having travelled and eaten all over Thailand, I was disappointed, after my return, whenever I tried Thai recipes from my other cookbooks. TRUE THAI has enabled me to replicate those amazing dishes with the layers of flavor unique to that beautiful land. Making homemade curry pastes as he describes - red, green, Jungle, Massaman - is labor-intensive, but very worth it. The chapter on vegetarian cuisine is a cookbook in itself. Recipes we have loved so far include: Phat Thai, Tom Kha Kai, shrimp-fried rice, pork-fried rice, beef with broccoflower, Massaman curry with potatoes and pineapple, and banana fritters with coconut and sesame. There also are chapters on garnishes, menu-planning, and "cooking with a Thai accent" - things like Panang Pizza. There is a useful appendix listing mail-order sources, and I plan to hunt down some tamarind concentrate and Thai coffee powder. If you want to cook real Thai, get this book. It's also just fascinating reading.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Thai Cooking Book Bar None, August 19, 2002
By 
Andy H "ors d'Ouevres" (Silver Spring, MD USA) - See all my reviews
I have a small library of asian cookbooks, including several Thai cookbooks, but this is by far the best cookbook for Thai cooking that I have come across. I cannot help but to recommend it to all of my friends who (1) like Thai food, and (2) like to cook.
The recipes tend to be on the spicy side, which is almost unheard of. So many Thai cookbooks try to water the spice down, temper the curry paste, only add a splash of lime or a leaf or two of Makrut leaves. Not this book. This book gives you great, rich flavor. Some of the recipes are VERY spicy, but none of the recipes, not even the very hot ones, are without the delicious complexity of flavor that is present in Thai cooking. The flavors are always full of a wonderful mix of different tastes from the region. Wonderful use of lime, herbs, chilis, lemongrass, coconut, and more.
The book has one drawback. I will probably not use the little cheap cans of Thai curry paste again. The recipes for the curry pastes in the book are so delicious and flavorfull that the overly salty curry cans are just not worth the facility they provide [well, almost not worth the facility ;-)].
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The required textbook for my Thai cooking class, May 3, 2000
I lived in Thailand during the 1980's before Thai cooking became popular across the United States. During that time, there were very few cook books that could come close to the real flavor of Thai cuisine. I learned how to cook Thai food while watching over the shoulder of my dear house maid. She taught me how to make all of the everyday dishes that Thai people love but seldom find on the menus of restaurants. Thanks be to Victor Sodsuk for putting in a chapter on street food. Now all the food that I long for and remember while living in Thailand can be enjoyed everyday. I just recently taught a class on Thai cooking at a local community college and this book was the one that I referred to the most. The recipes are excellent!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, December 14, 1999
This book gives you all the basics for making a great Thai dinner from scratch. From recommending the type of utensils and wok to use, to the recipes for making your own sauces and pastes to use in the recipes (he also allows the use of store-bought equivalents), this cookbook wows everyone I cook for. If you love Thai food, get it. My favorite cookbook. I recommend the Chicken with Cashews & Chili-Tamarind Paste. It's simply amazing.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it is True!, January 15, 2000
By 
As I wandered through reviews of other cookbooks I did not know I wondered if I could believe the reviewer's comments. So as a check, I searched out my favorite cookbook-True Thai. I have read and used it at length for years, learning something new about the food and culture every time. It is a treat to cook with, the depth of flavors is beautiful and the recipes clearly authentic. In a way I was disappointed to see it so aptly reviewed, my secret is out. You see, none of the folks I know have this cookbook.However, upon reflection, the reviews take the appropriate approach; anyone who appreciates great Thai cuisine and beautiful unassuming commentary will fall in love with this cookbook.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The mystery of Thai cooking revealed by this cookbook, February 6, 2002
By 
I have been intrigued by Thai cooking for a very long time, but the mystery vanished when I picked up this book at the public library. I love this book so much that I plan to buy it. There are too much good recipes and tips to just settle for xeroxed pages.
Not only are the recipes great, but the book reveals many great tips and secrets about Oriental cooking that have alluded me for years. After reading this book, I was finally able to make fried rice that wasn't sticky. It had the right texture. Also, in using unusually pungent ingredients like shrimp paste, it was so helpful to know that putting it in foil and roasting it in foil on a skillet for 5 minutes not only reduces the smell, but improves the taste. Shrimp paste is used in so many curry pastes and entrees in Thai cooking that this tip alone is worth getting this book.
Also, certain foods that I usually don't like tasted so much better when cooked the way described in the cookbook. Mussels with Lemongrass and Thai Basil is an example. And the section on making American dishes with a Thai accent was also very helpful. You finally start to understand the spices that make Thai cooking unique and you also learn how these spices are used. Another helpful part of this cookbook is the list of Thai ingredients in the front and each recipe that lists a Thai ingredient that may be difficult to find in your local grocery store, a more common equivalent is listed. If you can find Lime Kaffir Leaves, lime or lime zest will work just fine.
If you have any interest at all in Thai cooking; you must have this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have book for those that like to cook or eat Thai., December 7, 1998
By 
Sue (SUNNYVALE, CA USA) - See all my reviews
True Thai is filled with delicious and easy to prepare recipes, as well as short and entertaining vignettes about the various regions in Thailand. Victor Sodsook also provides a comprehensive list of recommended brands ands supply sources. Nothing I prepared has not been a success. Friends that recently returned from Thailand have agreed that the recipes are right on the mark.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very user friendly thai cook/region history book, June 15, 1998
I love thai food and eat at a lot of thai restaurants in the LA area and let me tell you this book is right on the money! Easy to understand recipes and very authentic. My favorite is the Tom Kha Kai soup, yum. Good price here too, I've seen it much more expensive than here.Very good Mr. Victor Sodsook.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Thai Cookbook!, April 3, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer "melshedd" (St. Louis, MO United States) - See all my reviews
This book has great Thai recipes.
I went to Thailand for a month and came back looking for authentic recipes. THIS IS THE BOOK TO BUY! The sections are clearly laid out (everything from street vendor food to Royal recipes!) and the instructions are clear. (Attention vegetarians: there is a section for you, too.) The glossary of ingredients is very helpful, as is the section is the back on where to get hard-to-find items.
I highly recommend this book, if you are looking for authentic Thai recipes.
Small potential "downsides": no photos (but the recipes come out flawless anyway) and they are REAL recipes, not simplified versions for crock-pot cooking - in other words be prepared to COOK. It also would be helpful if you lived near an Asian grocery store.
Don't let this scare you off - this cookbook is true to its title!
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not authentic, outdated Americanized Thai-Chinese cuisine!, June 29, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Early on in this cookbook I ran across a shrimp and chili paste recipe, which the author (s? along with Sodsook, an American couple contributes recipes) "toned down for our American tastes", yet did not explain what was changed or how it was not authentic. That should have been the first clue that that tone would follow throughout the book and carry over to the recipes. I'm a bit upset at Amazon reviews misleading me.

The book's written in 1995 by a Thai author that has (or had) a restaurant in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Beverly Hills, and most of the westside, is well known (currently) for having watered down, Americanized versions of any ethnic food you will find within it's borders. His restaurant had a sommelier! It's also been closed down for a while. This should have been my second clue that this book wouldn't be authentic or worth reading/using/buying. If you live in a city with any access to Thai markets or with a medium to large Thai population, like Los Angeles, Washington DC, others, you will be doing yourself a disservice buying this book - unless you've never had Thai food before (it is a good introduction).

You could say "well the book is 14 years old" as an explanation as to its inauthenticity - but LA's Thai community is older than that, and the largest in the US, so for a restauranteer to come out with such a book from LA speaks badly of his own restaurant and ideas of how Americans would like to see Thai food prepared and frankly is offensive to non-Thais (as was some of the writing "toning down" recipes).

The book, other than a handful of essential classic Thai curries, is mostly north Thai-Chinese (Issan, Bangkok, etc) cuisine. About a quarter of the recipes ARE Chinese recipes with fish sauce and extra garlic thrown in. There are a couple of "Southern Style" recipes, but they are tomato based, and so aren't at all the turmeric heavy, Islamic/MalayKmer inspired Southern cuisine. There are NO recipes with fresh turmeric roots at -all-. This recipe book is "Thai food for Americans used to eating Chinese food" and is not a useful tome of classic Thai recipes. My fault - I mean the title DOES say "Modern" even though it also says "True."

Lastly, even though this book contains many Americanized restaurant style recipes, it doesn't succeed at some of them. The biggest draw for some people - pad thai - is bland and the sauce it uses is based mostly on ketchup! An atrocity. The book doesn't have boat noodles or anything with tripe or blood or anything vaguely offal-ish. I see ingredients at local Thai markets that aren't even mentioned here. Not authentic in the slightest. No thanks, I'll be returning this book now.
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True Thai: The Modern Art of Thai Cooking
True Thai: The Modern Art of Thai Cooking by Victor Sodsook (Hardcover - June 21, 1995)
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