Trust these five Thai cookbooks to steer you to the real deal: ingredients, techniques, and flavor.
Still a No. 1 bestseller after its publication in 2014, this cookbook by the author of the She Simmers blog (and a Bangkok native) is full of recipes for classic Thai fare, from family dishes and street food staples to iconic Thai restaurant staples.
Don’t take it from us: “Reaching beyond my comfort zone of store-bought curry pastes and simple soups brought a new level of confidence and understanding of the powerful but balanced flavors of Thai cuisine,” writes Coco Mirante at The Kitchn, “and I look forward to making more recipes from this book.”
Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker with J.J. Goode
From the owner of the beloved Portland, Ore. restaurant of the same name, the Pok Pok cookbook was built on decades of travel throughout Thailand and intense study of the cuisine. You’ll find over 50 recipes from the restaurant and from Thailand, including the classic curry noodle soup khao soi and the much-hyped (rightly so) fish sauce wings that became an instant hallmark of Andy Ricker’s empire.
Don’t take it from us: “Pok Pok is one of the most exciting ethnic cookbooks to come out in the past few years,” writes Kate Williams at Serious Eats, “and one of the first since David Thompson’s Thai Food to fully commit to a hands-on, no substitutions manner of cooking.”
Thai Street Food by David Thompson
This tome is by another outsider with a true passion for Thailand’s food (and other aspects of its culture). The focus is on street food from pork satay to sweet banana roti, and the recipes are accompanied by snapshots of the vibrant market scene.
Don’t take it from us: “Renowned Australian chef and Thai-food expert David Thompson offers a hunger-inspiring tour of the outdoor markets and food stalls of Thailand,” writes Kimberly Masibay in Fine Cooking. “The evocative photos and recipes for noodles, curries, satays, salads, roasted meats, and more capture the daily rhythms, bright flavors, and bustling spirit of Bangkok’s streets, and will appeal to anyone with a love for Thai cuisine.”
Night + Market: Delicious Thai Food to Facilitate Drinking and Fun-Having Amongst Friends by Kris Yenbamroong and Garrett Snyder
From the chef of LA’s Night + Market, this book charts a journey from Thai-American restaurant food to traditional Thai country cooking, and examines what exactly authenticity means. It also showcases Yenbamroong’s signature style of cooking, with recipes that are distinctly Thai, but also distinctly Night + Market. One of the core goals of the book is to simplify complex recipes to “wring maximum flavor out of minimum hassle.” That includes dynamite dishes like crispy rice salad, spicy salmon ceviche, and wok-seared noodles.
Don’t take it from us: “I fell in love with Night + Market quickly,” writes Sarah Micheller Gellar (yes, Buffy reviewed this book for Food52’s 2018 Piglet competition). “It’s a dance through a personalized version of Thai cuisine and the photos are authentic, warm, and inviting. The recipes absolutely delivered and, better yet, empowered me to step outside my comfort zone. But the best thing about this book is the way its food made me and my family feel. As we sat down and ate, the moment felt livelier, the flavors more exciting, and the memories unforgettable.
From the chef behind the Hot Thai Kitchen blog and the popular Pailin’s Kitchen YouTube channel, this book draws on the author’s lived culinary experience since childhood and her Cordon Bleu education to help demystify Thai cuisine for all home cooks. Along with recipes (many of which include QR codes you can scan to go to the relevant YouTube video for an in-depth demo), you’ll get a beautifully photographed tour of Thailand and a solid foundational understanding of key traditions, techniques, ingredients, and flavors.
Don’t take it from us: Multiple reviewers mention their appreciation of the suggestions for substitutions for hard-to-find ingredients; from Cookery Nation: “I think the main thing that pushed me forward was Pailin’s comforting tone and assurance that making substitutions was perfectly ok. She explained the purpose of each ingredient and allowed me to experiment and explore the flavours and textures.”
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