Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: Bangkok Local, by Sareen Rojanametin & Jean Thamthanakorn

70 recipes of the dishes that define Bangkok, so you can capture the city’s aromatic magic in your own kitchen.

Beautifully illustrated and presented with recipes you can incorporate into everyday life.

Authors Sareen Rojanametin & Jean Thamthanakorn came onto the cooking scene after leaving their professional careers behind them to open Nora, a small boutique café in Carlton, Victoria. After only three short years, the pair’s reputation for authentic and amazing Thai food led them back to their homeland in 2018 to research, photograph and design a book for their fans. This creation is the recipe book Bangkok Local.

The composite of recipes range from authentic and traditional Thai cuisine to those with a modern touch. Even more compelling to tackle are Bangkok Local’s recipes for the delightful snacks sold on street corners and food markets.

The blend of colours, amazing photos and enjoyable layout encourage you to cook, as does the simple format of each recipe. However, being an authentic recipe book there are a multitude of hard-to-find ingredients which can put you off attempting many recipes and if you do not regularly cook Asian cuisine, you’ll find you need to buy many different types of sauces.

As such the recipe book is geared towards people who have a strong passion for Thai cuisine and are willing to go the extra mile; people who are already familiar with Thai food or Asian cooking in general and want to expand their repertoire; or those that seek authenticity in cooking.

Unlike most recipe books that are segregated based on food type, the bulk of the recipes in Bangkok Local are divided into dishes served early, mid, or late in the day. Two smaller sections for desserts and basics and a glossary is also included for those unfamiliar with the cuisine, and for hard-to-find ingredients.

The assortment of recipes is extremely diverse and include Pad Thai, Crispy Oyster Omelette, Mung Bean Dumplings, Sticky Rice, Sago, Rice Porridge and, a variety of stir fries and curries. Overall, it is a recipe book full of dishes for the everyday as well as for those special meal days.

I tried three of the recipes – a main, a side dish and a dessert. My thoughts are as follows:

Moo Pad Qing – Stir fried pork with ginger (page 61)

A wonderful blend of flavours that you can make as spicy as you like. I made this dish twice, the first time as per the recipe with pork and the second time with chicken. Although I preferred it with pork, it was still a useful experiment to demonstrate the versality of the flavours and it is still definitely enjoyable with chicken; it is just a matter of personal preference! The dish was a definite hit in our family and one that I will continue to use at home regularly. Ingredients are easy to source; the meal was teenager-approved and it is quick to make. Next time I will try a different type of fungus.

Pad Pak Bung – Stir fried water spinach (page 75)

An easy side dish that is both healthy and quick to make. There were leftovers which I ate cold the next day. It serves as a simple, healthy side salad when cold.

Gluay Buat Chee – Bananas in coconut milk (page 172)

Another quick and easy to make dish. Ingredients are easy to source and could be a wonderful dessert for a warm day however, I found this dish lacked flavour. Nevertheless, if you prefer plainer style foods, the blend of ingredients and texture of the dessert works well together.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster Australia
Released: April 2019
RRP: $39.99

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