Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Limited Book, August 18, 2009
This review is from: Delightful Thai Cooking (Paperback)
As Thai food becomes increasingly popular in the US (and abroad), hundreds of Thai cookbooks have hit the market, and it's difficult for those interested in cooking Thai food to know what to look for. So let me tell you what you'll get with Delightful Thai Cooking:

In short, you get a small paperback cookbook with a collection of hit-and-miss recipes.

I have been cooking Thai food at home for over 15 years now, and Delightful Thai Cooking is one of the 10 or so Thai cookbooks I own. It was actually the second I ever purchased, and I've cooked a number of recipes from its pages.

Some pointers:
*Some of the recipes in Delightful Thai Cooking are quite good; a few are excellent. Most, however, are lacking in various regards when cooked straight according to the recipe, and require substantial revision to get where you'd want them. Some dishes seem to be too strongly flavoured, others not strongly enough, etc. And there are even a few small errors in a couple of recipes which could trip up new cooks.
*It contains no photos (apart from the cover), and very few helpful illustrations (though the illustrations, where present, are much appreciated). If you need photos, this is not the book for you.
*As I am not Thai, I cannot be 100% of how authentic any book is, but I have never seen another Thai cookbook which recommended some of the American shortcuts found in this cookbook: I seriously doubt that using ketchup and peanut butter (as opposed to home-ground peanuts) are particularly "authentic" Thai ingredients. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd guess that some of the recipes in Delightful Thai Cooking are authentic, and some are quite Americanized. Other recipes are prepared in unusual ways that give them a flavour that is not characteristic of most more authentic recipes. One example of this is the recipe for Tom Kha Gai, which recommends frying curry paste, garlic, and black pepper with the traditional fragrant trio at the beginning of the recipe before adding liquid. None of the other 10 Tom Kha Gai recipes I've made have suggested adding any of these ingredients, or of starting the soup by frying. Don't get me wrong, the resulting soup was very tasty. It just didn't taste like Tom Kha Gai.
*All of the curries (as far as I recall) expect you to make your own curry paste. If you would rather just buy canned (or bottled) curry paste at the grocery store to save yourself time, the recipes in this book may taste "off".

On the positive side, most of the recipes are moderately easy to prepare.

If you happen to own the book, the Coconut Custard recipe in its dessert section is one of the few that really stand out (I'd be happy to share a few others if anyone cares to inquire).

Overall, however, I cannot recommend Delightful Thai Cooking when there are so many other quite excellent Thai cookbooks available.

If you are looking for a Thai cookbook, I suggest the following:
For absolute beginners, I recommend Simply Thai Cooking.
For those who prefer to see photos of every single dish in a book and want to try something a little more authentic, Thailand: The Beautiful Cookbook is a personal favorite.
If you'd like something very authentic, True Thai is consistently excellent (and has become my favourite Thai cookbook).
For something even MORE authentic (requiring hard-to-find ingredients), Thai Food has an enormous selection of recipes.

I notice that most of those posting positive reviews of this cookbook have taken courses from (or otherwise know) the author. Perhaps, when combined with a course where the author can teach you how to prepare the dishes in person, many of the recipes in this book may be excellent (assuming one does things the author has taught them which are not written in the pages of the cookbook). Unfortunately, this has not at all been my own experience when trying to prepare the recipes on my own.

[Updated in 2014 with more detail and to reflect my current recommendations.]
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 24, 2013 8:09:59 AM PDT
Have you ever thought about what ketchup is? It's not what it's named after: ketjap, the delicious Indonesian condiment you can buy in bottles. But what we call ketchup is actually based on recipes from South Asia, combining tomato and vinegar. This is very commonly done in Southeast Asia and also in China. There are classic Chinese recipes that use ketchup and also what we call bottled chili sauce. So the "authenticity" of this ingredient may not be all that suspect. Is it the sort of haute cuisine that would be served in the best restaurant in Bangkok? Perhaps not always. But I don't think it would displease Tom Colicchio!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2013 10:47:14 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2014 11:46:28 AM PDT
Perhaps in some parts of China they cook with ketchup, but I've never seen my Chinese mother-in-law (or any of my other Chinese in-laws) cook with ketchup. Neither do my Thai friends cook with ketchup. While it is conceivable that some Thai (or Chinese) people may regularly use ketchup in their cooking, I have seen nothing which indicates that this is either normal or particularly authentic. That said, if you prefer the taste or convenience of using ketchup in your own Thai cooking, then, by all means, continue to use ketchup. I personally don't prefer the flavour it adds to Thai food, myself. (And at least some Thai chefs argue that ketchup does not belong in authentic Pad Thai: )

For what it's worth, I usually cook Thai at home. My review and recommendations still stand, though I'd probably now recommend True Thai over Thai Food for the recipes (though Thai Food still has a lot to offer-it's probably the most comprehensive Thai cookbook out there).
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