08:53 - 11th April 2013, by NEO Staff


When it comes to cooking a completely new style of cuisine, all information is useful, and too often cookbooks can assume you know much more about the ingredients you'll be using than you probably do. Lemongrass - okay, so we've all seen it and probably know it's a lemony stick. But when it comes to cooking with it, and any other kind of exotic ingredient, it's natural to be slightly cautious in the face of the unknown. That's why Vatch's Thai Cookbook is such a find. Not only does it describe a host of curious ingredients, but it also takes the time to explain what exactly they are, how they are grown or produced, what they look like, how to select them and how to prepare and use them. By being provided with vital background information on the ingredients, even an absolute beginner to Thai cuisine will find themselves getting to grips with the unique flavours and tastes of the dishes after having a flick through this book.

Without ever being patronising or condescending, Bhumichitr takes us on a culinary journey through Thailand, on the way describing dishes and ingredients vital to its cuisine. The book is divided into chapters covering the different regions of Thailand, and in each chapter there are a variety of recipes. Each of the major ingredients is first introduced, with a lengthy description that often includes valuable information ranging from how to select the best produce to how to substitute the ingredient, and then a collection of recipes follows that utilise the unique tastes of each. The photographs accompanying this book are also superb - whilst a fair amount of the recipes do not come with pictures, the pages for the ingredients do, and they are extremely well thought out. Different varieties of the ingredients are pictured, along with different ways of slicing or preparing them. The amount of thought and consideration that has been put into the concept and execution of this book is very impressive.

The recipes themselves are very easy to follow. In fact, flicking through the book, you may be surprised at how short most of them are - this is a testament to the concise way they have been written out, and to the simplicity and ease of Thai cooking. Very much a book for the beginner, there are few really intimidating recipes here, but even very experienced cooks are sure to find them tempting.

If you want to know more about Thai cooking, and indeed, Thailand itself, you really should pick this book up. It would be difficult to provide a more thorough introduction to the basic flavours and produce that help to create the authentic Thai taste.

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