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Thai Food
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:£20.40+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 27 May 2003
After reading all the other glowing reviews of this book I decided to purchase it myself.
I would firstly agree the book does have nice presentation. It's hard cover certainly stands out on the book shelf and the pictures are nice too.
Thats as far as my admiration goes!
It does indeed have lots of pages about the history of Thai food and ingredients that last for several hundred pages. If you have the time to read all of this then good luck, but for a busy professional who wants to knock up a nice Thai meal for friends and colleagues then I don't really want any baggage. The first receipe is actually on page 188, so you get the idea.
I'm sure David Thompson spent a lot of time researching for these first chapters, but if I wanted to know about Buddah and culture, surely I would have puchased a book on Thai Culture"!
Moving on to the actual receipes. The layout seems to be quite disjointed. It has main sections for example "Rice", "Soup" and "Curries". In these sections the animal types are all mixed up, so to find any chicken dish you would have to look through the entire section. This in itself is not bad but hasn't been planned particularily well. It just takes ages. David Thompson uses the Thai names for ingredients, which is very nice from a traditional view point, but when you write a shopping list it makes it hard when you have to keep flipping back to the "ingredients translator" (pages 140 - 185). Want to know what "Kaffir lime zest" is, well from what I can tell this is a normal lime, although it is not clear! Oh well.
Throughout the book American measurings are used, so get used to cooking with "Cups". I'm wasn't sure how big a cup actually is (conventionally measurement conversions are in the front or the back of a back) well you'll be glad to know the conversion chart is actually on page 137, so it's not too hard to find in a hurry!
Although nicely presented, this book was certainly a let down, especially after reading the other glowing Amazon reviews. I would recommend you consider seeing it firsthand before you decide to purchase.
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on 12 November 2008
This is a beautiful and well written cookbook. it aims at being comprehensive and authentic and definitely succeeds. However, the author has the most exacting and uncompromising approach to ingredients and recipes i have ever encountered in a cookbook and this really undermines it in the long run. This book is all about producing the food that Thais eat in Thailand and as such, demands a whole bunch of really specialised ingredients. I live in Manchester and we have a bunch of Chinese/Asian supermarkets and at least 3 Thai food stores and even then I've had real trouble finding some of the things. And even if you could find everything, David tells you that you should really be making everything from scratch. From coconut cream to fermented pork this book teaches you how to make everything in Thai cookery and how the shop-bought versions really aren't quite the same. Personally, i find his level of exactitude off-putting. I want to make tasty things and be told they will be tasty, not pale imitations of what i could make if i lived in Thailand and had plenty of time and ingredients to hand. You simply cannot buy coconuts at three different stages of growth in Manchester. I also want to be told where and when i can make shortcuts, the author just tells you that you shouldn't which is unhelpful really.

The recipes are well described and, if you flick about to different sections, give loads of details about about EXACTLY how to prepare ingredients, cook things and what it is you're looking for at each stage of cooking. what i have made has been good (or great) but it's been the most laborious shopping trips ever. I had hoped that this would help me eat delicious Thai food regularly which it hasn't, it's just too daunting for that. However, it has made me confident in cooking asian food and comes out when i want to make something a bit more special when i have time and money on my hands. Buy this book if you want a (very pretty) definitive guide to authentic Thai cuisine written by a passionate author, don't buy this if you're looking for Thai food you can knock up on a regular basis or live far from specialist Thai food stores.
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on 5 September 2009
I have bought this having spent many months in Thailand enjoying the food and I am dissapointed. I am sure a lot of work went into creating this book which to me is more a documentation of the Thai recipes rather than a pratical guide to recreating the dishes. A lot of the recipes are not practical since you cannot find the ingredients even in the specialised supermarkets - I attended a cooking course while over in Bangkok and it gave practical advice and simple recipes - most of which are able to be achieved now I am back in the UK with a few special ingredients such as Kaffir lime leaves and galangal.

My own opinion is many people would be better off with a cook book such as Ken Hom or Rick Stein that would be aimed at the UK shopping capability of aquiring ingredients.
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on 21 May 2011
David Thompson's Thai Food is probably the most comprehensive guide you'll ever find to Thai cuisine. The author's passion comes through on every page, and Thompson really doesn't do things by halves. Rich with the history and culture of the country and the philosophy behind the preparation of a good Thai meal, this is a book I wish I'd read before visiting Thailand, rather than once I'd already fallen in love with the country and its food - I'd have eaten so much better while I was there, and yet what I ate out there was amazing!

Before we go any further, however, let's get one thing clear. If all you want to do is learn how to knock out a reliable Pad Thai, DO NOT buy this book. Buy something for a fiver that calls itself 'easy Thai cooking' or some such, because this book will absolutely not do that for you. This is very much NOT a book for the novice cook, but designed instead for someone who wants to explore the complexities of Thai cuisine beyond whether red or green curry is the hottest.

One of the most valuable things Thompson puts in the book is his section with suggested menus. Each of these has been perfectly balanced for taste, taking the guesswork out of things and giving you a fighting chance of creating something authentic from the very first meal you choose to make from the book. We've made several of the menus suggested and not once had a duff result, and things that perhaps didn't seem all that appealing when looked at individually - like quails' eggs braised with star anise - suddenly made perfect and delicious sense.

As other reviewers have mentioned, the ingredients lists can be quite intimidating, and much of what you need might require the presence of a good Oriental grocer nearby. That said, there are some excellent online retailers that will send you what you need, and while preparing the pastes can be time-consuming, the results are absolutely worth it. It's also worth noting that Thompson himself gives advice on suitable substitutions so that you don't have to be put off by the lack of one simple ingredient.

The absolute test of a good cookery book, for me, goes beyond how much I use it myself - and this one has stained pages aplenty - and into how many times I've bought it for other people. Thai Food has been happily received by friends and family on a few occasions now, and the reason I'm back on its page on Amazon today is so I can buy it as a present for yet another person!
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on 27 April 2016
If you are looking for the authoritative guide on how to prepare proper Thai food then I would say look no further. After years of owning this book there have been a myriad of 'oohs' and 'aahs' as we've enjoyed a variety of Thai dishes cooked at home.

If you are looking for a very simple introduction to Thai cooking (and just want to whip up a quick Thai green curry), then this is probably not the best place to start, as many of the recipes involve some quite specific and time-consuming preparation.

Whilst some of the other reviewers have mentioned a number of hard-to-find ingredients, you should be ok if you have either an asian/international/large supermarket nearby. Most of the time, the large majority of ingredients will revolve around galangal/palm sugar/tamarind etc, but I generally found that more often than not it was just one ingredient that ended up being hard to source; 'hydrolysed lime water' being one such memorable culprit!

This however is the necessary evil that comes with having such an authentic guide to Thai food and on that front it's an absolute winner. On more than one occasion in the last few years we've visited Thai restaurants and found that what we could cook at home was actually tastier, which is all thanks to this book. If you love Thai food, live near a good/large supermarket and know your way around a kitchen then I would heartily recommend this!
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on 21 October 2002
There are almost as many Thai cookbooks as there are Thai restaurants in London. However, the majority of both offer toned-down, inauthentic fare that would be laughed at in Thailand itself. This book is a definitive compilation of carefully researched recpies that capture the enormous complexity and variety of one of the world's great cuisines - one that is all too often reduced to an embarassingly crude option of green/red/yellow curry by an ignorant British food industry. Don't buy this book if you want pretty pictures and "fake" dishes like sesame prawn toast - as natural a reflection of the depth of native cuisine as the ubiquitous banana pancakes on Bangkok's Khao Sarn road are of all of French, or Italian cuisine. Do buy it if you really want to understand Thai food and Thai people's passion for food, and if you want to create all manner of dishes, from the simple to the complex, that will delight even the most discerning of palates.
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on 29 October 2003
This book is hugely informative about Thai food culture (and culture in general). The recipes I have tried are straightforward and delicious. If you want a simple 'how to' book, like one of the other reviewers here, this may not be the book for you - but if you're interested in south east Asian culture and food, this is one of the most comprehensive and authentic books around.
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on 2 September 2010
what can I say, a cook book without proper illustration is simply unacceptable. bought it and never used it ...what a waste of money
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on 3 February 2004
I'm a Chef and I love this book!
If you want to know how to knock-up a quick Chicken Satay using a jar of red Thai curry paste and peanut butter then this book is not for you. There are plenty of other Thai recipe books for this.
If, however, you have a passion for cookery and want to produce authentic Thai food using traditional methods, then this book is most definatly for you. I've cooked about 30 recipes from this book so far, and the results were stunning and authentic. Try the Beef Penang!
This book is not for complete beginners as the recipes require a lot of preperation and assumes you know basics of cookery.
Finally, Kaffir limes are NOT the same as regular limes, you can get then in asian supermarkets. Also, anyone serious about cookery has a set of cup measures. . . and before anyone asks, Galengal is not the same as Ginger.
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on 11 March 2011
A very handsome book, with a clear, detailed, informative style of writing. Probably not the book you want just for a curry on the odd Friday night. But if you want to learn how to build Thai flavours from scratch, look no further. A lot of people on here are whingeing about the impossibility of obtaining various esoteric ingredients. Hello? It's food from the other side of the world, what were you expecting exactly? Happily, the author describes each dish well, and the book contains extensive glossaries and explanations, so any half-decent cook should be able to run with it and knock up something spectacular. Only today, I made the Smoked Catfish & Green Mango Salad for lunch, in ten minutes. Catfish (smoked or otherwise) are rare round here, so smoked mackerel it was, and although I can occasionally get green mangoes, I only had pink grapefruit to hand. Nevertheless, my guests were amazed by it. Thai cooking is nothing if not eclectic, and I'm sure the Thais who live in England make frequent use of clever substitutions, rather than sulking about, complaining about the lack of stuff...

NB. This book seems to have been reprinted, and as such, is now an absolute steal. I was looking for it a while back, and it was only available at very high prices, second-hand. Don't let it slip through your galangal-scented fingers again!
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