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  • Writer's pictureMolly

Best Thai Food Cookbooks to Buy and Chefs to Follow in 2021

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

Nam prik googn

The selection of books below focuses on acclaimed chefs and cooks who have deep roots in Thailand, either because of a familial connection or a life long commitment to studying Thai cuisine and traveling / living in Thailand. These books are a fantastic starting point on your Thai cuisine journey.

THE CHEF: David Thompson

While Chef David Thompson (Nahm (former), Long Chim Perth, Long Chim Sydney and Aaharn Hong Kong) is most definitely not a Thai national (he is Australian), he has been considered for years to be one of the top authorities on Thai cuisine and the history of Thai cuisine. In fact, during the History of Thai Cuisine section of my culinary program in Bangkok, our lecturer recommended David Thompson's books as the only resources available for further reading on Thai culinary history in English. He has lived and traveled extensively in Thailand, researching cuisine and history along the way, thus developing a very deep knowledge and expertise in Thai cuisine.

In addition travel research, David Thompson explores Thai cuisine through his impressive collection of funeral books. In Thailand, it is common for families to give funeral attendees gifts as keepsakes to remember their lost loved one, often the keepsake is a book encompassing the essence of the person. The books will include favorite Buddhist teachings and philosophies, personal stories and if the deceased was an exceptional cook, one would expect a recipe or two. This practice is believed to have started with Rama V in the 1800s, after the tragic deaths of his first wife and his daughter. The Royal Palace produced 10,000 books to memorialize the beloved Queen, Sunandha Kumariratana, and gift to mourning countrymen. The practice peaked in fashion until the mid 1900s, and has decreased in recent times. Chef David Thompson is said to have a collection of over 500 of these types of primary resource materials, which he uses to explore the history of Thai cooking. Sources: Altaabscura and Random Times

THE CHEF: Nuit Regular

Chef Nuit is the executive chef and co-owner of Pai Northern Thai Kitchen, Sabai Sabai, Sukhothai, and Kiin, all located in Canada. Nuit has been recognized by the Royal Thai Government for the authenticity of her Thai cooking and was granted the prestigious Thai Select Premium certification, an award granted by the Thai Ministry of Commerce which guarantees the authentic Thai taste of Thai of food products and Thai restaurants in Thailand and overseas.

Chef Nuit is from Northern Thailand and her cookbook is a treasure trove of Northern Thai recipes. If perhaps you've traveled to Northern Thailand and fell in love with the local cuisine, this is the book for you! Additionally, if you love Thai food and want to expand your knowledge of regional cuisine, this is a fantastic resource. The recipes are very traditional and don't make allowances or modifications for the Western palate, which is something many of us have been looking for in Thai cookbooks. This book is for you if your approach to Thai cooking is: don't give me a Thai recipe developed for what you think my palate wants, just give me the actual recipe and I'll take it from there!

THE CHEF: Chef McDang

Chef McDang was born into the Royal Family of Thailand. He was educated in the United States at Georgetown University, where, after watching Julia Child on American TV, he discovered his love for cooking and sharing Thai cuisine. From there he turned his professional attention to the culinary arts. In 2010 he published a cookbook called The Principals of Thai Cookery, which is considered by many to be a keystone resource on the topic. The recipes in this book are intended for those of us looking for Thai recipes translated into English. The recipes don't offer substitutions for foreigners and haven't been developed for the Western palate. These are the recipes people are cooking in Thailand every day.

THE CHEF: Pailin Chongchitnant

Pailin is probably the most famous Thai Chef Youtuber, and with good reason. Her channel and cookbook offer authenticThai recipes that manage to stay accessible to Westerners without being watering down. Pailin was born and raised in Bangkok, and educated in Australia where she perfected her English and caught the cooking bug. She started her Youtube channel while attending culinary school in San Francisco in 2009. She now has two channels and has amassed over 1 million subscribers. In addition to authoring the cookbook "Hot Thai Kitchen," and host of TV series One World Kitchen on Gusto TV. Chef Pailin is currently working on a new cookbook. Follow her social media to stay up-to-date on the release!

THE CHEF: Kay Plunkett-Hogge

Born and raised in Bangkok, Kay spoke Thai before she spoke English and has spent more than half her life in Thailand. Baan is a true homage to her childhood, to the delicious recipes that she was raised on and a cuisine and country that she loves.

Baan features over 120 recipes that Kay has collected from all over Thailand from friends, acquaintances and street-stall holders, all gathered over around 30 years of travel, and all of them tried and tested back in London. Kay demystifies Thai food, providing clear and concise recipes and revealing the shortcuts, kitchen hacks and ingredient substitutions that make delicious and authentic Thai cookery achievable in an ordinary Western home.

THE CHEF: Leela Punyaratabandhu

From 2008 to 2021, Leela wrote about Thai cuisine on her cooking blog, which was named the best Regional Cuisine blog in 2012 by Saveur Magazine. Also in 2012, Leela was named by the Chicago Tribune one of the seven new food writers to know. Leela’s writing has appeared in CNN, Wall Street Journal, Serious Eats, Food52, TASTE, and Dill Magazine. In 2017, she was named one of the 100 Greatest Home Cooks of All Time by Epicurious. In Both Leela's Books, "Bangkok" and "Simple Thai Food," the recipes have been tested and tweaked to ensure that even the busiest 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 anyone who wants to give Thai cooking a try.

THE CHEF: Angus An

In Maenam, chef Angus An takes you on his ongoing journey of discovering Thai cuisine and shows how to blend traditional Thai flavors and cooking techniques with local, seasonal inspirations from the west coast. Angus' training as a chef is impressive, working under some of the most prestigious chefs and restaurateurs in the industry, including 18 months with Chef David Thompson at Nham, London. Coincidentally, Angus met his wife and business partner, Kate, working at Nahm. For their second restaurant, Angus and Kate decided to shift their focus from French faire to Thai cuisine, the food of Kate's heritage. With Angus' foolproof instructions, Maenam offers the foundation to modern Thai cuisine for adventurous cooks of all skill levels. Filled with over 100 of his signature recipes, each meal balances robust, intense ingredients with his approach to Thai food's clear, sharp flavors. Transform your kitchen with snacks inspired by Thai street vendors, quick to prepare noodles and one-bowl meals, light- and full-bodied soups to have all year-round, flavorful and protein-filled salads, seasoned stir fries, killer curries, and refreshing desserts.

THE CHEF: Saiphin Moore

Saiphin Moore had culinary ambitions from a very young age. She was born into a family of farmers, in the very small town of Khao Khor in Phetchaboon province in northern Thailand, and had set up her own noodle stall at age 14. Soon after she finished her training in Hong Kong, she opened her first real restaurant there: Tuk Tuk Thai (which is still open today). After moving to London with her husband, Saiphin founded Rosa's Thai Café, which started as a food truck business in 2008. Saiphin and her husband, Alex, now own and operate six notable Thai restaurants in London with plans to open branches in North America. The cookbook "Rosa's Thai Cafe" looks at dishes from across Thailand in over 100 recipes. The recipes feature traditional and regional Thai dishes and a whole lot of modern variations as well.

THE CHEF:Jam Sanitchat

Born and raised in Thailand, Jam Sanitchat hails from a family of skilled cooks. She learned the craft from her grandmothers and mother beginning at the age of five. Jam moved to the United States to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Texas, then fell in love with Austin and the local food culture. She has fed the community ever since--through her farmers market stand, her cooking classes, and her popular restaurant, Thai Fresh. Her dairy-free ice cream parlor, Gati, is set to open in 2020. Kim Lane was the editor of the James Beard award–winning magazine Edible Austin for over a decade. A commentator for National Public Radio's “All Things Considered” and a contributor to Mothering magazine, Pregnancy magazine, Green Prints, and Salon and Salon’s printed anthology Life as We Know It, Lane lives and works in Austin, Texas. Jody Horton is an award-winning food and lifestyle photographer. The recipes in the book are the top selling dishes at her the restaurant, which tend to be more fusion that traditional.

THE CHEF: Pepper Teigen

As a child, Pepper Teigen worked with her mom who was sort of a street food lunch lady in a small town outside of Korat in the Issarn region of Thailand. While she may not be a chef, she is definitely well experienced in Thai food. She's also a Thai mom. She's the mom of one of the world's most famous super models, to be exact. And who doesn't want to exchange recipes with Thai mom? The book features traditional Thai recipes as well as many recipes for original dishes created by Pepper as a Thai immigrant mom trying to eat well in the US. A very interesting collection of recipes worth checking out!



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