Thai cuisine is really better described as four regional cuisines corresponding to the four main regions of the country. The cooking of Thailand has been influenced by China and India while maintaining a unique taste of its own. Like Vietnamese food, Thai food uses fresh (rather than dried) herbs and spices as well as the ingredient found in almost all Thai dishes and every region of the country: nam pla, a very aromatic and strong tasting fish sauce.
Pacific rim cuisine, or pan-Asian food, is more popular than ever—especially Thai food. The proliferation of Thai restaurants across the United States and Canada is astounding. By the same token, peanut sauces, rice noodles and lemon grass can now be found at local supermarkets nationwide—no longer limited to the shelves of Asian markets or specialty stores. One of the pioneers in the ''Pacific rim food movement" is Wandee Young, a Thai immigrant, who in 1980 opened the first Thai restaurant in Canada. Along with Byron Ayanoglu they have put together more than 100 delicious recipes using exciting and flavorful ingredients that make up the bold and vibrant cuisine of Simply Thai Cooking.
Thai cuisine is an amalgam of flavors that addresses all four of the palate's principal taste elements-sweet (sugar, fruits, sweet peppers), hot (chilies), sour (vinegar, lime juice, tamarind) and salty (soy sauce, fish sauce)-usually simultaneously. Says co-author Ayanoglu, "It is the only cuisine that I'm aware of that manages to do this successfully, and it is this very characteristic, this assault on the entirety of one' s tasting faculties, that we find so irresistible. There is literally no rest from enjoyment when indulging in [Thai] cuisine..."
The dishes of a Thai meal excite the olfactory sense as well with aromas and scents-basil, coriander, lime leaf, garlic, lemon grass, ginger, cumin, turmeric and coconut—combining and recombining in subtle variations, creating stimulating and lusty flavors.
Simply Thai includes recipes for soups, noodles, curries, steamed dishes, fried dishes, salads, and the basic sauces-all of which depict a typical Thai meal. Familiar favorites range from slow-charred Chicken Satay with a rich peanut sauce and deliciously crunchy Spring-rolls to Pad Thai, the quintessential Thai noodle favorite.
Tom Kha Kai (Coconut-Chicken Soup) is a fiery yet soothing soup, while salads like Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad) and Yum Talay (Seafood Salad) are perfect for a light lunch. Exotic main courses such as Goong Kratiam (Garlic Shrimps), KangPed Nuer (Thai Beef Curry) and Kai Phad Khing (Ginger Chicken) will delight, and for dessert, there are such Thai favorites as Khao Niow Mamuang (Sticky Rice Pudding with Mango) or Klu Ay Too (Thai Banana Fritters).
All recipes are clear and easy-to-follow, and meals can be prepared in under 30 minutes. The richly-colored dishes are captured in 16 sumptuous full-page color photographs. Young and Ayanoglu also include "Helpful Hints" for preparing Thai cuisine and list items to have on hand for a well-stocked Thai pantry. High in nutrition and low in fat, the dishes of Simply Thai are guaranteed to please all palates with their exhilarating and memorable flavors.
Wandee Young is the chef and proprietor of two highly acclaimed Young Thailand restaurants located in downtown Toronto. Born in the small village of Phuket, located in southwest Thailand, she was raised in Bangkok, where her farming parents relocated to open a restaurant. Byron Ayanoglu resides in Toronto and in Suffolk, England. He has worked as MickJagger's personal chef and is Robert De Niro's favorite movie set caterer. He is a former food critic and the author of Byron's Home Cooking.
Simply Thai Cooking
Wandee Young and Byron Ayanoglu
Robert Rose, Inc., 1996
from Kate's Global Kitchen
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This page modified January 2007
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