Thai food is one of my favourite cuisines but its unique flavours have always confounded me. Recipes off the internet have never really making the grade.
Chef Tom Kime has thankfully lived up to his promise. This tempting recipe book is an exploration of Thai food almost as much as it is of culture. Beginning with the top 12-star experiences of Thailand, Kime breaks down the basic ingredients and the must-have herbs, spices, nuts and seeds.
Armed with the right ingredients, Thai Food Made Easy then separates the recipes into easy to follow sections, from snacks and finger food through to smoking grills, salads, rice and noodle dishes, desserts, drinks and more. The recipes are, as promised, easy to follow with a clear indication of serving size, preparation and cooking times, ingredient lists (separated into fresh ingredients and pantry stock) and simple step-by-step cooking instructions. They each come with an introductory paragraph to help you select the right recipe for your mood.
Many recipes also come with additional Chef’s Tips, which may include alternative ingredients, dishes to complement this one, or deeper explanations on food preparation (eg “How to prepare shellfish” on page 146).
The ample colourful photos by Lisa Linder are mouth-watering, including those found in the Menu Planner offered at the end of the book. The book itself is 256 thick pages that unfortunately, have to been weighed down to remain open on your recipe, but the thickness of this volume makes that no surprise. The headings and introductory paragraphs are all a good size. The core information – ingredients lists and cooking instructions – are all in a small font though. This is not a recipe book that can be followed from across the bench.
As beautifully presented as it is, the proof is in the cooking and Thai Food Made Easy gave me my first real successes at cooking Thai food. I adapted some recipes to cater for my dinner guest, but this was easy to do, even for a novice like myself. My cooking results and comments on two recipes are below. Overall, I was delighted with this cookbook and enthusiastically recommend it to any lover of Thai food.
Siamese Chicken, page 98
Using ginger, coriander, garlic and white pepper amongst other ingredients, this dish would work equally well with a range of different meats. The chicken was utterly delicious although next time I would add additional coriander to the mix. The timing of this recipe was close to true, with most of the 20-minute prep time spent grinding some fresh ingredients and then threading the chicken pieces onto the skewer.
My only complaint about this entree is the need to read the full ingredient list and instructions before beginning. For a basic cook like myself, I was unaware that skewers should be soaked for half an hour before using them. That instruction is lost at the bottom of the ingredient list instead of being up top as part of the preparation.
Thai Fried Rice, page 188
One of the staples of Thai food, this simple recipe consists of only four steps! It’s easy beyond belief although it took a hell of a lot longer to cook than the recipe suggested. Allow for triple the time at least.
I swapped the prawns for some frozen mixed vegetables because my guest couldn’t eat seafood. The swap added a lot of colour but stole some of the taste away from it. Fresh vegetables would have been better. For the recipe itself, I felt it was a bit too heavy on lime but could do with a bit more egg and oil. Overall however, it was a satisfying and filling dish that I would happily make again if time permits.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8
Released by: Murdoch Books
Release Date: August 2017