Best Thai cookbooks for authentic recipes from pad thai to delicious curries – Tricks and Tips

Best Thai cookbooks for authentic recipes from pad thai to delicious curries

(Evening Standard)

“I’d want that as my last meal on earth”, I told a friend a few years back as we sat on neon coloured wobbly stools on the curbside of a bustling street in Bangkok.

On a typically humid evening amongst the endless stream of scooters and street vendors calling out to tourists, my nose had discovered a small hut where two women were chopping, frying and boiling all sorts of food in a wok. The unnamed stall had no menu, and for the equivalent of £1, you were treated to a mountain of the freshest, most flavoursome mixture of noodles, vegetables and meat.

The mouth-watering combination of flavours and comforting feel of the dish inspired me to try out Thai cooking once back at home. Like many people, I had of course cooked a stir fry – and even a pad thai – at home but recreating the most delicious dish I’d ever consumed would be no easy feat.

Surprisingly, with a little patience and creative flare, cooking Thai inspired food at home is not overly difficult. We caught up with cookbook author John Chantarasak to pick up some top culinary tips.

“I find cooking Thai food at home so incredibly satisfying, the different cooking styles and techniques makes for an exhilarating ride”, the half-British, half-Thai chef explains. “Investing in a good quality and large sized pestle and mortar is a real game changer. This piece of equipment has many versatile applications from pounding curry pastes to grinding toasted dried spices and bruising aromatic ingredients to extract the maximum flavour for soups and braises.

“I would also find it incredibly difficult to cook authentic Thai food without fish sauce, palm sugar and chillies in my home pantry”.

So, it’s time to say tear yourself away from your favourite Thai takeaway and take that leap of faith as you learn how to cook authentic food form The Land of Smiles in your kitchen.

With these top cookbooks, all the flavours and tastes you love can be recreated in next to no time as most recipes are deceptively easy (although your guests will never guess!).

Thailand, The Cookbook

If you’re after a comprehensive guide to Thai food, look no further as this cookbook features over 500 recipes that cover the breadth of Thailand, and beyond. There’s everything from much loved Massaman Curry and Phat Thai, to relatively unknown dishes such as Pandan Pudding.

With a range of recipes, it appeals to novice cooks and pro chefs – you can rustle up a delicious and simple seven ingredient meal such as the Crab and Papaya Salad, or take your time perfecting the art of Thai cuisine as you labour over a Roasted Duck Noodle Soup. Be adventurous with your drinks as well – the Dragon Fruit Frappe is perfect for breakfast or delicious to sip throughout the day.

Amongst the recipes, there’s also personal stories, historical and cultural explanations and above all, exceptionally moving photography of both landscape and food.

Buy now £26.99, Amazon

Dominique’s Kitchen

Winner of Channel 4’s The Great Cookbook Challenge, Dominique Woolf presents a collection of fuss-free recipes that are packed full of flavour and goodness. The simple recipes require only a few ingredients, many of which can already be found in the cupboards.

Dominique tells us that her pantry ingredients include, “a good quality Thai red curry paste (not just for curries but for a whole host of other recipes including stir-fries and fish cakes), along with coconut milk, a bottle of sweet chilli and fish sauce. When it comes to fresh ingredients, I make sure to have garlic, lime and chillies on hand as well”.

We love the fusion of Thai and British food in many of these recipes – the Caramelised Pineapple Eton Mess and Miso Caramel Pears are the summer desserts we didn’t know we needed. If you’re trying to be healthy (aren’t we all!) but find stereotypical “health” dishes bland and difficult to stomach, the Hot Smoked Salmon Rice Bowl and Singapore-Style Tofu will be your new best friends for hearty yet feel-good dinner alternatives.

Buy now £14.00, Amazon

The Nutmeg Trail

Spices are integral to Asian cooking. It’s not all about heat, spices can add depth, flavour and layers to cooking, as this wonderful cookbook reveals.

Taking the reader on a historical journey, this book features 80 recipes that profile various spices and show how they can be used and combined to create flavoursome recipes you won’t believe have come out of your kitchen. This book is an exploration of the entire Asian continent and shows how spice and culture have become interwoven over the centuries.

Try the Tandoori Roast Chicken to liven up a Sunday lunch, or for those who can handle the heat, the delicious Rica Rica Prawns offer a beautiful kick.

Buy now £17.99, Amazon

Kin Thai

Cookbooks don’t come more colourful than this one. With some of the most exquisite photography, Thai food is brought to life in a sensory and immersive experience – we guarantee your stomach will be rumbling before you pass the introductory pages. The dishes don’t disappoint either, and novice cooks will be grateful for the clear instructions and well explained “basics” section.

If you’re after a simple weeknight dinner then give your chicken some flavouring and try the Grilled Coriander and Garlic Chicken. Alternatively, the Smoky Aubergine Salad is an absolute must, it’s so good you wouldn’t know you were eating a salad! For the more adventurous eaters, the Beef Tongue with Chilli Relish is not one to miss.

Buy now £16.75, Amazon

Rosa’s Thai Cafe

From the founder of award-winning cafe group Rosa’s, comes a cookbook packed to the brim with iconic, authentic and much loved Thai dishes. Alongside the 100 recipes, there are dedicated sections on cooking techniques and stocking your pantry – useful information for Thai food lovers.

We love that there’s a little bit of everything in this book. From small bites and salads to curries and grills, you’ll find something to tickle your taste buds regardless of the time of day. Our absolute favourite dish is the Beef Massaman Curry that melts in your mouth (we’re not exaggerating!). For something lighter or the perfect dish to serve for big groups, try the Soft Shell Crab Salad or Larb Spring Rolls that can be prepped ahead of time and rustled up in a matter of minutes.

Ditch the shop-bought sauces and condiments because the homemade Sriracha will blow your mind.

Buy now £15.46, Amazon

Curry Guy Thai

Lovers of Asian food will no doubt have heard of The Curry Guy, the iconic chef detailing curry recipes from around the world. Now, Dan Toombs is back with his latest take on Thai food that features over 100 recipes inspired by your favourite takeaways and restaurants.

The perfect balance of sweet and sour with just the right amount of saltiness, these recipes will quickly become a weekly staple, particularly the Pad Thai and Yellow Chicken Curry. Thanks to the nature of home cooked food, these meals are relatively healthy and are packed with goodness.

Spend some time trying out recipes from the sauces and garnishes section – there are plenty of curry paste instructions that, once made, can be stored for months and are guaranteed to elevate your homemade Thai meals beyond belief.

Buy now £11.15, Amazon

To Asia, with Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories from the Heart

It can be difficult to create meals to please the entire family without spending all day in the kitchen. This bestselling cookbook by Hetty McKinnon achieves this as she creates traditional vegetarian dishes in non conventional ways. Her many Asian salads including ​Smashed Cucumber Salad and Finger-lickin’ Good Edamame Beans make this a perfect cookbook for summer and outdoor dining. Impressively, you’ll find that most recipes cater for dietary requirements or offer simple substitutes for vegans.

Buy now £18.85, Amazon