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Simple Thai Food

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Thai takeout meets authentic, regional flavors in this collection of 100 recipes for easy, economical, and accessible Thai classics--from the rising star behind the blog "She Simmers." A Bangkok native (and current Chicago resident), Leela Punyaratabandhu knows first-hand that even Thai cooks take shortcuts. With "Simple Thai Food," Leela presents recipes from her beloved Thai takeout meets authentic, regional flavors in this collection of 100 recipes for easy, economical, and accessible Thai classics--from the rising star behind the blog "She Simmers." A Bangkok native (and current Chicago resident), Leela Punyaratabandhu knows first-hand that even Thai cooks take shortcuts. With "Simple Thai Food," Leela presents recipes from her beloved Thailand, all tested and tweaked to ensure that even the busiest American cook can prepare them at home. With chapters on key ingredients and tools, base recipes, one-plate meals, classic rice accompaniments, and even Thai sweets, "Simple Thai Food" is a complete primer for any home cook who wants to give Thai cooking a try. Recipes range from pleasantly familiar classics like Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce, Pad Thai with Shrimp, and Tom Yum Soup, to the exotic--including soon-to-be-favorites like Son-in-Law Eggs and Fried Fish with Green Mango Salad.


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Thai takeout meets authentic, regional flavors in this collection of 100 recipes for easy, economical, and accessible Thai classics--from the rising star behind the blog "She Simmers." A Bangkok native (and current Chicago resident), Leela Punyaratabandhu knows first-hand that even Thai cooks take shortcuts. With "Simple Thai Food," Leela presents recipes from her beloved Thai takeout meets authentic, regional flavors in this collection of 100 recipes for easy, economical, and accessible Thai classics--from the rising star behind the blog "She Simmers." A Bangkok native (and current Chicago resident), Leela Punyaratabandhu knows first-hand that even Thai cooks take shortcuts. With "Simple Thai Food," Leela presents recipes from her beloved Thailand, all tested and tweaked to ensure that even the busiest American cook can prepare them at home. With chapters on key ingredients and tools, base recipes, one-plate meals, classic rice accompaniments, and even Thai sweets, "Simple Thai Food" is a complete primer for any home cook who wants to give Thai cooking a try. Recipes range from pleasantly familiar classics like Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce, Pad Thai with Shrimp, and Tom Yum Soup, to the exotic--including soon-to-be-favorites like Son-in-Law Eggs and Fried Fish with Green Mango Salad.

30 review for Simple Thai Food

  1. 5 out of 5

    megHan

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. No other consideration was offered, expected or received. Shortly after I graduated from high school, I met a girl around my age named Mary. Her mother was from Thailand and she was such an amazing person. I learned so much from her – and got to taste some of the best food I have EVER had the pleasure of tasting. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of Thai food, but nothing is ever as good as the authentic food I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. No other consideration was offered, expected or received. Shortly after I graduated from high school, I met a girl around my age named Mary. Her mother was from Thailand and she was such an amazing person. I learned so much from her – and got to taste some of the best food I have EVER had the pleasure of tasting. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of Thai food, but nothing is ever as good as the authentic food I got to taste from her kitchen and the kitchens of some of her friends. I've been to culinary school, and authentic food has always been a passion of mine, so when I came across this book at NetGalley, I grabbed it up. I am so glad that I did. It is informative and filled with beautiful pictures. It tells about each recipe, ingredients and their substitutes, and gives plenty of information on how they eat food in Thailand. The background information on each recipe was very well done and sometimes hilarious, especially her discussion on "Naked Shrimp" (Fish sauce-marinated fresh shrimp with spicy lime dressing). I learned a lot of things from this book, like that canned cream corn was a popular ice cream topping in Thailand in the 1970s, and have a list of recipes that I can't wait to try. If you like cooking and are into Thai food, this is a book you should definitely pick up. :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pattie Tierney

    Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu is an informative, engaging book, written by a woman who undoubtedly knows her craft, learned by way of the excellent recipes from her mother's collection. In the early 2000s, the author moved from her hometown of Bangkok to Chicago to further her education. Her mother, fearful she would lose the connection to her homeland and culture with the move, began sending her daughter cookbooks from her collection so that she could continue to enjoy the food of Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu is an informative, engaging book, written by a woman who undoubtedly knows her craft, learned by way of the excellent recipes from her mother's collection. In the early 2000s, the author moved from her hometown of Bangkok to Chicago to further her education. Her mother, fearful she would lose the connection to her homeland and culture with the move, began sending her daughter cookbooks from her collection so that she could continue to enjoy the food of her upbringing while living abroad. This simple, heartfelt gesture turned Punyaratabandhu into food blogger, columnist, and cookbook author. I learned a lot from reading this book. I learned that my kitchen is surprisingly well stocked for Thai cooking, in both ingredients and equipment. I learned a bit about Thai culture, and quite a bit about what comprises some of the sauces that I have purchased pre-made to avoid lengthy preparation. The most important thing I learned, however, is that as much as I love eating Thai food, I really don't want to prepare it. Perhaps because there are only about five dishes that I generally prepare, I tend to turn to only one of the five books on Thai cooking in my collection. The one that is my favorite is a bit oversized, but it features a large color picture of every dish along with very simple instructions and relatively few ingredients. I did not find the recipes in this book to be simple. There are also not nearly enough pictures to satisfy my needs. Let me say, that I received a digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I can only assume that the digital copy looks similar to the hard copy in its absence of pictures. For me, few pictures is a deal breaker when it comes to purchasing a cookbook, particularly where unfamiliar dishes are concerned. Another aspect of this book that I found displeasing, though seems to have become quite popular in modern cookbooks, is the numerous page references contained within one recipe. Flipping back and forth in a book in order to find the spice mixture, then again for sauce #1, and yet again for sauce #2 may be ecologically wise in the saving of paper (something that I do appreciate), but can tend to be quite exasperating for the cook. I also found that most of the recipes in this book are not so simple. Simple, perhaps, for the Eastern diner, but not so simple for those of us from the unfamiliar West. Maybe the easy-to-prepare Thai dishes that I make lack authenticity, but as long as they are delicious and visually appealing, I'm fine with that. So, simply put, this book was not for me. I consider this as my own failing rather than that of the author. She clearly put a lot of heart and effort into its creation of authentic recipes, I just didn't find one that I wanted to make.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jillyn

    Three and a half stars, rounded up. --- Simple Thai Food is a collection of 100 recipes of, you guessed it, Thai cuisine from Leela Punyaratabandhu, the brains behind the popular blog She Simmers. Though I am a foodie who was raised by a chef, I'm the first to admit that I don't know all too much about Thai cuisine. I picked this book up so that I could see what it's all about, and learn to make a few dishes in the process. I have to say that the author does a great job explaining what ingredients Three and a half stars, rounded up. --- Simple Thai Food is a collection of 100 recipes of, you guessed it, Thai cuisine from Leela Punyaratabandhu, the brains behind the popular blog She Simmers. Though I am a foodie who was raised by a chef, I'm the first to admit that I don't know all too much about Thai cuisine. I picked this book up so that I could see what it's all about, and learn to make a few dishes in the process. I have to say that the author does a great job explaining what ingredients are, where to obtain them, and how to best prepare them for cooking. This is a good beginner's book for that reason, as new people like me won't be put off by a list of exotic ingredients or overly detailed recipes. They're relatively easy to understand, and things are well explained alongside helpful tips for how to best go about cooking. One thing that I was disappointed with in this book is the amount of pictures. I'm a very visual person when it comes to food and cooking, and I really wish that there were more photos for me to reference. Don't get me wrong, there are pictures and the ones that are included are great looking. However, this is one aspect of a cookbook that is really important to me, and fell flat here. This is a solid Thai cookbook for anyone who already loves the cuisine or, like me, is looking to expand their cultural horizons one tasty plate at a time. Beginners, in my opinion, don't need to be afraid of these dishes, and I'm sure seasoned cooks can learn a dish or two as well. Thanks to Netgalley and Ten Speed Press for my chance to read this. This review can also be found on my blog, Bitches n Prose.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Janet Martin

    An absolutely wonderful cookbook! I tried a number of recipes and liked them all. Because I live hours away from a Thai--or any Asian--grocery, I had to limit myself to supermarket ingredients, and fortunately most of these recipes are compatible with what folks like me can actually find. I loved the Beef Green Curry with Thai Eggplants, even though I had to use regular eggplant instead of the little Thai variety and serrano chilies instead of Thai--these recipes forgive those sorts of An absolutely wonderful cookbook! I tried a number of recipes and liked them all. Because I live hours away from a Thai--or any Asian--grocery, I had to limit myself to supermarket ingredients, and fortunately most of these recipes are compatible with what folks like me can actually find. I loved the Beef Green Curry with Thai Eggplants, even though I had to use regular eggplant instead of the little Thai variety and serrano chilies instead of Thai--these recipes forgive those sorts of substitutions, as did those of several other delicious curries. Many of these recipes are patterns that will allow lots of variety. The Phanaeng Curry with Chicken and Kabocha Squash (my absolute favorite winter squash) was spectacular. If you can only have one Thai cookbook on your shelf, make it this one!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Dickson

    Great background and inforation from a Bangkok native. Biggest positives: author's know-how, honesty, and section on homemade essentials (make your own coconut milk, siracha or fish sauce). Biggest surprise: her admission that pad thai calls for so many ingredients and steps that most Bangkokians purchase it from food vendors already-made. Maybe I'll try making her easy version of satay, or her recipe for coconut-chicken soup if I can get all the ingredients. Bottom line: I'm not ambitious or Great background and inforation from a Bangkok native. Biggest positives: author's know-how, honesty, and section on homemade essentials (make your own coconut milk, siracha or fish sauce). Biggest surprise: her admission that pad thai calls for so many ingredients and steps that most Bangkokians purchase it from food vendors already-made. Maybe I'll try making her easy version of satay, or her recipe for coconut-chicken soup if I can get all the ingredients. Bottom line: I'm not ambitious or willing to ingredient-hunt enough to make use of this well-done cookbook.

  6. 4 out of 5

    lisa

    I didn't find anything simple about these recipes; they all seemed dauntingly time-consuming. If I have time sometime, (and money for the special ingredients) I will try some of these, but the Simple Thai Food title is misleading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    Maybe I have no business rating or reviewing this, as I don't plan to make any of the recipes. But that's why it got only three stars. The recipes are inconsistent and lacking in clarity; I fear buying a list of specialized ingredients and ending up with an underwhelming (or simply failed) dish. There's also a dearth of photos, which I usually find a lame complaint... but in a cookbook on a foreign cuisine aimed at an American audience, you need more photos. On the other hand, I did genuinely Maybe I have no business rating or reviewing this, as I don't plan to make any of the recipes. But that's why it got only three stars. The recipes are inconsistent and lacking in clarity; I fear buying a list of specialized ingredients and ending up with an underwhelming (or simply failed) dish. There's also a dearth of photos, which I usually find a lame complaint... but in a cookbook on a foreign cuisine aimed at an American audience, you need more photos. On the other hand, I did genuinely enjoy the writing, specifically the introductions to each recipe. I didn't find any of the arrogance I've seen mentioned in other reviews; the author has a distinct voice and a great sense of humor. This would have worked a lot better as a book about Thai cuisine and its history than it does as a cookbook. Actually, if she writes the former, I will buy it. But I'm glad I borrowed the latter from the library.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beachreader

    I don't think this cookbook works for the average American who enjoys Thai food and wants to try making some at home. There are too many special ingredients required that you won't find at your standard Safeway. There was only one recipe that I would classify as close to "simple," and that is Pad Thai which I have been making for years using a nearly identical recipe. I took a Thai cooking class about five years ago, and our Thai instructor, who had been a restaurant chef in Bangkok, taught us I don't think this cookbook works for the average American who enjoys Thai food and wants to try making some at home. There are too many special ingredients required that you won't find at your standard Safeway. There was only one recipe that I would classify as close to "simple," and that is Pad Thai which I have been making for years using a nearly identical recipe. I took a Thai cooking class about five years ago, and our Thai instructor, who had been a restaurant chef in Bangkok, taught us how to make many delicious dishes using ingredients that were easier to obtain. One other criticism: I want a specialized cookbook to have beautiful, tempting pictures of the dishes that aren't familiar. This cookbook did not do that. There are pictures for some recipes, but probably less than half.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    Delicious food, exactly the cookbook I was looking for. This book and my girlfriend's patient teaching and guidance has taken me from not knowing how to properly cut chicken (don't use a serrated blade folks) to cooking delicious spicy food with confidence. I love this book, and my goal is to eventually cook well every recipe in the book at least once. The drunken noodles are especially good. It's hard as fuck to find long Thai chiles where I live so me and my gf substituted jalapenos, but Delicious food, exactly the cookbook I was looking for. This book and my girlfriend's patient teaching and guidance has taken me from not knowing how to properly cut chicken (don't use a serrated blade folks) to cooking delicious spicy food with confidence. I love this book, and my goal is to eventually cook well every recipe in the book at least once. The drunken noodles are especially good. It's hard as fuck to find long Thai chiles where I live so me and my gf substituted jalapenos, but luckily there is a pretty good Asian market in the city 30 minutes from my house. Anyways I love this book, I use it once or twice per week. 5/5

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    This book has some good recipes but suffers from a lack of editing. It's a bit inconsistent in the way ingredients and methods are listed and described. I think it's that, rather than bad recipes per se, that has resulted in a few poor outcomes for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Serena

    Nice simple recipes as described but still seems authentic - like not over simplified. It gives good adaptations for when you can’t find a rare ingredient but also great advice for when you just can’t replace something.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    I really liked this! I now have many recipes to try. It has gorgeous pictures and really nice introductions about each dish too. The recipes look relatively easy to make, although a few are complicated, the author even warns you about them, I like that too!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Forgottendreamr

    Repeatable tom yum.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mairzi

    Really interesting and well written.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pam G

    Decent easy dishes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    DelAnne Frazee

    Title: Simple Thai Food Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen Author: Leela Punyaratabandhu Photographer: Erin Konkel Published: 5-13-2014 Publisher: Ten Speed Press Pages: 236 Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine Sub Genre: Cookbooks; International; Asian ISBN: 978167745235 ASIN: B00GQAOSVU Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley My Rating: 5 Stars . Have a variety of food allergies that restrict my diet my parents tried to find different ways to serve dishes that were a little different. My Title: Simple Thai Food Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen Author: Leela Punyaratabandhu Photographer: Erin Konkel Published: 5-13-2014 Publisher: Ten Speed Press Pages: 236 Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine Sub Genre: Cookbooks; International; Asian ISBN: 978167745235 ASIN: B00GQAOSVU Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley My Rating: 5 Stars . Have a variety of food allergies that restrict my diet my parents tried to find different ways to serve dishes that were a little different. My brothers and sisters may not have enjoyed some of them, but I loved the many International dishes. Growing up near the Keys, we had Cuban, Haitian and Seminole friends who were kind enough to teach me as I grew up. Then we met James and Kamala Lee. Mrs. Lee was from Thailand and a verysweet tiny lady who would allow the quiet teenage girl to follow her around the kitchen and taught me so much. She passed away when I was 25, but left me with so many memories and her book of recipes which I still treasure 30 years later. When I saw Simple Thai Food and took a quick peak I knew I had to have it. The ingredients are not a problem for me because I most I keep on hand or grow myself, but for some who just starting to experiment with Thai cooking it may seem a bit daunting. I urge them not to give up. It is well worth the effort when you see the smiles on your family's faces when they eat the food you created for them. Many of the recipes were familiar to me and it was like welcoming home an old friend. Most will find the recipes not as simple as the title - Simple Thai Food implies, but it actually is some of the more basic Thai cuisine you could eat in many Thai homes. The little anecdotes and histories on the different recipes and the recipes are interesting and some are hilarious. I think anyone who is interested in Thai cooking this is definitely a book to keep handy on your cookbook shelf. My rating is 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you Leela Punyaratabandhu for taking me back to Kamala's kitchen once more. Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00... Barnes and Noble link: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/simple-thai-... GoodReads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... The Reading Room link: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.ph...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gaby

    Like many people that I know, I've always enjoyed Thai food. I grew up partly in New England and partly in Southeast Asia and Thai food has never seemed exotic to me. It has just the right mix of spice and freshness and something new. I'm always looking for good Thai recipes and was excited at the chance to review Simple Thai Food. The author grew up in Bangkok but had developed her cooking skills while living in the US, trying to replicate her mother's recipes. As such, the book is geared Like many people that I know, I've always enjoyed Thai food. I grew up partly in New England and partly in Southeast Asia and Thai food has never seemed exotic to me. It has just the right mix of spice and freshness and something new. I'm always looking for good Thai recipes and was excited at the chance to review Simple Thai Food. The author grew up in Bangkok but had developed her cooking skills while living in the US, trying to replicate her mother's recipes. As such, the book is geared towards those of us who are learning about Thai food and have to hunt for the right ingredients in American stores and Asian stores in the US. There is a helpful section that describes the basic ingredients and sauces used in Thai cooking and a quick description of the Thai approach to eating (called "Noshes and Nibbles") which is heavy on snacking. Due to an unfortunate accident while I was trying to bake our Easter ham, my oven is out of commission. I'm limited to trying to replicate the dishes on my stovetop. I'm trying to lose weight so I didn't attempt to make the particularly fattening and delicious items - I'm thinking of the "Gold Purses" recipe of scallions, mushrooms, ground chicken, water chestnuts, sweet chile, sugar, special sauces, all fried in a wonton wrapper. Instead, the Kung Chae Nam Pla (Fish Sauce-Marinated Fresh Shrimp with Spicy Lime Dressing) sounds like a tasty, healthy meal. Similarly, the Grilled Steaks with Roasted Tomato Dipping Sauce (Crying Tiger) also looks like something that will go over well with both dieters and foodies. The salad recipes are particularly good. Leela gives us an introduction to the best tools (hand grater or mandoline) for shredding the green papaya and green mango and the basic ingredients for the proper yam dressing (lime, salted fish sauce, and some palm sugar) and her own approach to testing and tasting the salad and dressing. Very straightforward and sensible, Leela makes preparing a Thai salad a little less intimidating. I'm preparing the Kai Phat Khing (Chicken Ginger Stir Fry), which is one of my takeout staples. The recipe is straightforward and the ingredients easy to find. The dish was a hit in my home! ISBN 9781607745235 $ 24.99 Ten Speed Press, May 13, 2014. Review copy courtesy of the Publisher and NetGalley.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Yummy thai food. I wish there were more pictures.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Edythe Hamilton

    Leela Punyaratabandhu originally started as an online blogger in 2008 sharing Thai recipes with public from recipes collected by her mother who passed away weeks earlier. All recipes in this cookbook are foods the author grew up eating and proudly prepares for her family and friends to date. Simple Thai Food is comprised of four sections with the first chapter having appetizers which is commonly known as “between meal snacks” for inhabitants of Thailand. The second chapter is Rice Accompaniments Leela Punyaratabandhu originally started as an online blogger in 2008 sharing Thai recipes with public from recipes collected by her mother who passed away weeks earlier. All recipes in this cookbook are foods the author grew up eating and proudly prepares for her family and friends to date. Simple Thai Food is comprised of four sections with the first chapter having appetizers which is commonly known as “between meal snacks” for inhabitants of Thailand. The second chapter is Rice Accompaniments (dishes eaten with rice with chapter three having recipes for complete one dish meals and chapter four has wonderful desserts that are eaten between meals as a snack in Thailand. The cookbook includes standards such as pantry, ingredient, and equipments list sections to get you started cooking. I am listing recipes that are worth a try because of the ingredients and for dishes that I have actually enjoyed at Thai restaurants and want to reproduce myself as the amateur chef I think I am. Noshes and Nibbles  Sweet Potato Fritters with Peanut-Sweet Chile Sauce (p.11)  Pork Toast with Cucumber Relish (p.28) I simply LOVE this toast! Rice Accompaniments  Stir-Fried Glass Noodles with Chicken (p.52)  Green Papaya Salad (p.79)  Oxtail Soup (p.88) One-Plate Meals  Pad Thai with Shrimp (p.123)  Rice Noodle with Beef-Tomato Gravy (p.130)  Chicken, Water Morning Glory, and Satay Sauce on Rice (p.140) Sweets  Toasted-Coconut Meringue Cookies (p.150)  Mango and Sweet Coconut Sticky Rice (p.161) The Ingredient Glossary come in handy describing the ingredients used in the cookbook and if there is not a local Asian grocery store in the neighborhood, Leela lists available mail order resources. This delightful Thai cookbook filled with great home recipes only has one drawback of not having a photograph for every recipe included in the book. However, I definitely recommend to ‘home kitchen chefs’ who want to add Thai home recipes to their culinary expertise and is most considerable as a gifting opportunity. I received this book free from Ten Speed Press through the Blogging for Books reviewer program in exchange for an honest opinion in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy Softa

    I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review, originally posted on my blog, www.readwhatilike.com Yes you are in the right place, and yes I am reviewing a cookbook. I am also very late in getting this review posted, the book got lost in the sea of papers on my coffee table… Anyway I am here now and ready to attempt my first cookbook review. Confession time. I have not made any of the recipes in this book, I am not a big cook and tend to stick to what I know or Turkish I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review, originally posted on my blog, www.readwhatilike.com Yes you are in the right place, and yes I am reviewing a cookbook. I am also very late in getting this review posted, the book got lost in the sea of papers on my coffee table… Anyway I am here now and ready to attempt my first cookbook review. Confession time. I have not made any of the recipes in this book, I am not a big cook and tend to stick to what I know or Turkish recipes for the hubby. I do love Thai food though and every once in a while get a craving for it, so when I saw this book available over at blogging for books I put in a request. But since I have not actually made any of the recipes…yet, my review is solely for the book content, its writing. The book is simply beautiful and I appreciate that the cover is printed, not a dust jacket, so it much more practical for actual use in a kitchen. The pages too are heavy and have a little bit of a sturdier feel to them, so this book will probably hold up better than other cookbooks I have for use while preparing one of its meals. The recipes don’t look too complicated, or rather the author did an excellent job of providing enough tips and instruction that I felt I could probably pull the ones off that I am interested in. She also provides some great information regarding how to stock your kitchen and the importance of different ingredients in Thai cooking, she also gives tips on where to find them, go so far as listing websites even. Many of the recipes also include tantalizing pictures of the finished products and sometimes steps along the way. I liked how the book was broken down into typical types of meals prepared in Thai kitchens and it seemed that each dish included a personal anecdote that was often humorous and provided more understanding of how the dish fit into the culture. It was also interesting to have the names of each recipe in not only English, but also Thai, in western alphabet and what looks to be Thai characters as well. Like I said this is a beautifully done book and I am determine to get around to preparing something from it, eventually. Regardless it was still an interesting read and I am happy to have it in my home library.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kari Lynn Mackey

    This is a wonderful manual for recreating authentic Thai cuisine. The ingredients used in Punyaratabandhu's recipes are traditional and fresh, if sometimes hard to find in the United States. It might have been useful to include more possible substitutions, although she does give some advice on how to find the more exotic ingredients. Rather than use prepared sauces or spice blends, she breaks down the basics of how to make these staples from scratch. She explains not only the methods of cooking This is a wonderful manual for recreating authentic Thai cuisine. The ingredients used in Punyaratabandhu's recipes are traditional and fresh, if sometimes hard to find in the United States. It might have been useful to include more possible substitutions, although she does give some advice on how to find the more exotic ingredients. Rather than use prepared sauces or spice blends, she breaks down the basics of how to make these staples from scratch. She explains not only the methods of cooking Thai food, but the meanings behind the names of the dishes and sometimes even their origins. Interweaving personal stories and at times a dash of humor, Punyaratabandhu makes her cookbook enticing to read as well as to cook from. The title may be misleading to some: the recipes in this book are not simple, in that they require a good deal of planning, time and effort to prepare, although they are straightforward to follow, and the resulting flavor is basic comfort food to many. A worthwhile purchase for libraries, so that readers may try their hand at cooking Pad Thai or Jungle Curry without purchasing a book that might not be frequently used by the average home chef. Cross-posted on NetGalley.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annalee

    Lovely photographs and engaging introductions to the recipes. Sounds like a blog post before each recipe (which is essentially how the book began). Relatable, funny, and very informative. I'd suggest it even if you only want to be a better orderer of Thai food at restaurants. I want to own this one so I can take my time marking it up and deciding when/how I'll get the ingredients to try the homemade condiments/sauces (curry paste/chili sauce/coconut milk, etc). This is not what I would call Lovely photographs and engaging introductions to the recipes. Sounds like a blog post before each recipe (which is essentially how the book began). Relatable, funny, and very informative. I'd suggest it even if you only want to be a better orderer of Thai food at restaurants. I want to own this one so I can take my time marking it up and deciding when/how I'll get the ingredients to try the homemade condiments/sauces (curry paste/chili sauce/coconut milk, etc). This is not what I would call "easy" food since it calls for hard-to-find ingredients and/or master recipes that take time in themselves, but it's totally approachable, engaging, and delicious-looking! And in fact, Leela lets anxious/novice cooks off the hook by suggesting acceptable (and nixing unacceptable) shortcuts and explaining how she's adapted recipes for her own home cooking. The only improvement would be to have at least a small photo for every dish, but that's very expensive and would have ballooned the size of the book considerably.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I went to Thailand when I was in sixth grade and fell in love with the food. I grew up with Chinese food being my comfort food because that's what was always on the menu at my Papa's house. When I discovered Thai food I felt like I was a grown up. Sadly I have only mastered a few simple Thai dishes, but those are the ones I always pull out when I have company! Leela's "simple Thai food" is a wonderful walk through mastering the basics of Thai food. I loved reading the personal stories behind the I went to Thailand when I was in sixth grade and fell in love with the food. I grew up with Chinese food being my comfort food because that's what was always on the menu at my Papa's house. When I discovered Thai food I felt like I was a grown up. Sadly I have only mastered a few simple Thai dishes, but those are the ones I always pull out when I have company! Leela's "simple Thai food" is a wonderful walk through mastering the basics of Thai food. I loved reading the personal stories behind the recipes, the tips on where to find those hard too locate ingredients and the breakdown of exqctly what to do each step of the way instead of leaving me to flounder about on my own like most cookbooks I find. There are only a couple of recipes I probably won't try, but hopefully soon I will be dazzling company with all my newly mastered Thai dishes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dm

    As a Thai food lover, I was excited to find this gem at my local library. Honestly some of the recipes I attempted would have been very difficult to undertake without having a local Asian food store near me. Regardless I thought the pictures divine and the recipes generally well written. Everything was consistent taste wise to dishes I've had all across America and in Japan (I know, who goes to Japan and eats Thai food? Obviously crazy people like me)... But not sure how the tastes compare to As a Thai food lover, I was excited to find this gem at my local library. Honestly some of the recipes I attempted would have been very difficult to undertake without having a local Asian food store near me. Regardless I thought the pictures divine and the recipes generally well written. Everything was consistent taste wise to dishes I've had all across America and in Japan (I know, who goes to Japan and eats Thai food? Obviously crazy people like me)... But not sure how the tastes compare to Thai food from it's native land. Was the book Simple? Maybe for someone like me who already cooks regularly and has read a bunch of different cookbooks in her life. If Thai food is your thing, this is not a bad title to pick up.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Regan W

    Leela Punyaratabandhu's cookbook is beautifully shot and the recipes have easy to follow instructions. So why, you may ask, a two star rating. I have a real problem with a book titled SIMPLE THAI FOOD that requires the cook to mail order ingredients. That is not simple! Per the author, if you cannot find galangal and kaffir lime leaves in your local grocery store, you must mail order them because "there are no substitutes". You may use tom kha paste in a pinch (because that's so easy to find). Leela Punyaratabandhu's cookbook is beautifully shot and the recipes have easy to follow instructions. So why, you may ask, a two star rating. I have a real problem with a book titled SIMPLE THAI FOOD that requires the cook to mail order ingredients. That is not simple! Per the author, if you cannot find galangal and kaffir lime leaves in your local grocery store, you must mail order them because "there are no substitutes". You may use tom kha paste in a pinch (because that's so easy to find). Also, should a book titled, SIMPLE THAI FOOD, include recipes for making your own curry paste, coconut milk and sriracha sauce? I propose a title change. Lets re-title the book, REALLY HARD TO MAKE, MIGHT AS WELL GO OUT TO EAT THAI FOOD.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I also checked out the hard copy from the library. The photos are beautiful, but there are not photographs of every recipe, which would have been nicer. If you are really interested in Thai cooking, this cookbook has a lot of information besides just the recipes including what parts of Thailand each dish is eaten in and how it is eaten and more. The recipes are far from simple though. They are quite complex and use ingredients that may be quite I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I also checked out the hard copy from the library. The photos are beautiful, but there are not photographs of every recipe, which would have been nicer. If you are really interested in Thai cooking, this cookbook has a lot of information besides just the recipes including what parts of Thailand each dish is eaten in and how it is eaten and more. The recipes are far from simple though. They are quite complex and use ingredients that may be quite difficult to find anywhere besides Thailand. I also thought that the font size is a bit small in the cookbook and it would have been easier to read if it had been larger and bolder.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Simple Thai Foods is written in a friendly, personal way. It's as though your Thai next door neighbor is sharing her favorite, everyday recipes with you. Most of the recipes use ingredients that are readily available at the grocery store. If you have an Asian grocery nearby you can make all of the recipes in this book. The recipes are clearly written and easy to understand. I think that any home cook would enjoy making the dishes in Simple Thai Foods. ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zora O'Neill

    I own a gazillion Thai cookbooks. But this is the first one that kicked me into gear to cook normal, weeknight Thai-style food--not over-the-top restaurant food, or obscure-street-vendor-in-one-odd-corner-of-Thailand food. That doesn't mean the recipes are dumbed-down or Americanized at all--it's just that the selection of recipes is a manageable size, and the simplest dishes are still intensely flavored. I really appreciate how she acknowledges a range of variations on certain dishes, and I own a gazillion Thai cookbooks. But this is the first one that kicked me into gear to cook normal, weeknight Thai-style food--not over-the-top restaurant food, or obscure-street-vendor-in-one-odd-corner-of-Thailand food. That doesn't mean the recipes are dumbed-down or Americanized at all--it's just that the selection of recipes is a manageable size, and the simplest dishes are still intensely flavored. I really appreciate how she acknowledges a range of variations on certain dishes, and explains where her recipe fits in, and how to tweak it if your taste is for something else.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Delicious options for exploring Thai food. The recipes are accessible and the ingredients not so esoteric. With the exception of a few ingredients that are easy to buy in huge bottles, most of the ingredients are in more typical supermarkets. The headnotes are a bit long sometimes-Punyaratbandu talks about the dish, traditional and the American versions, as well as her life and often in the same headnote.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Beaman

    I absolutely love this book. There hasn't been anything I've made from it that I dislike, although I will admit to being too scared to try the fish custard. As much as I love the chicken with cashews recipe, my favorite part of the book is the section on basic preparations which includes making your own pastes and sauces. The homemade sweet chile sauce is so much better than what I have been buying at the store!

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