Best Thai Food Cookbooks to Buy and Chefs to Follow in 2021
Updated: Sep 7, 2021
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 BOOKS: The Top 100 Thai Dishes, Classic Thai Cuisine, Thai Food, Thai Street Food
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 BOOK: Kiin: Recipes and Stories from Northern Thailand
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!