Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Thai
Cracking the Coconut: Classic Thai Home Cooking
Published: August 1, 2000
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Americans love Thai food. Among the best cookbooks exploring this rich, tantalizing cuisine is chef-restaurateur Su-Mei Yu's Cracking the Coconut. Insisting that there can be no true Thai cooking without homemade "core" preparations (such as
various chili pastes), Yu includes precise, accessible recipes for these and other essential ingredients while outlining fundamental techniques in vivid detail. Readers learn the proper hand motions for cracking a coconut, how to wrap ingredients in
banana leaves, and how to work a mortar and pestle, the central Thai-kitchen implement. The book's 175 recipes are divided between chapters devoted to essential ingredients or dishes. The chapter on Thai curry ("the signature dish") explores the basics
of preparing this exciting fare and includes such delicious recipes as Red Curry with Roasted Pork and Green Banana and Sweet Green Curry with Meatballs. A chapter called "The Secret of Thai Salads" offers recipes for a small repertoire of essential
dressings and such tempting recipes as Apricot, Shrimp, and Pork Salad and a salad-feast called, simply, Lamb and Roast Duck. Yu provides cultural notes and cooking lore throughout the book, often drawing from her recipe-hunting travels abroad. It's hard
to imagine a better start for anyone wishing to "cook Thai" than this fully illustrated book, which perfectly balances recipes and instruction to make it an innovative standout. --Arthur Boehm
For centuries Thai cooking
has been among the world's most highly regarded cuisines and also among the most mysterious. For the first time the tastes, techniques, and traditions of Thai home cooking have been gathered into one extraordinary book: Cracking the Coconut by renowned
Thai chef, teacher, and writer Su-Mei Yu.
More than a simple recipe book, this is a masterful work about the art and history of Thai cooking and the people who have shaped it. But, most important, it's about preparing, eating, and thoroughly
enjoying the food of Thailand.
By taking readers step by step through shopping, preparing, and serving, Cracking the Coconut dispels the notion that Thai cooking is difficult. With Su-Mei's engaging narrative and easy-to-follow recipes, Thai
cooking is suddenly accessible to everyone.
The wonder of Thai food begins with exquisite contrasts in flavors and textures. Su-Mei carefully explains each ingredient and its importance. Rice is the soul of Thai cooking; coconut is its heart;
salt, garlic, cilantro, and peppercorns are its spirit; chile water is the crown jewel; and chiles (prikk) and fish sauce (namm pla) are the high notes and accents in the final dish.
Su-Mei shows you how, through the simple acts of mincing,
pounding, and grinding, spices release their wonderfully fragrant oils and scents as they evolve into pastes. These spice pastes are what adds the intensity and depth of flavor so unique to Thai cooking. And of course, there are very detailed
instructions for cracking a coconut.
You'll be able to create such evocatively titled dishes as Crying Tiger, Galloping Horse, and A Thief's Salad, which taste as intriguing as they sound. More familiar dishes such as saté with peanut sauce, mee
krob, cucumber salad, and padd Thai will easily become family favorites.
Cracking the Coconut allows cooks of all levels to re-create the beauty and elegance of Thai home cooking in their own kitchens. From silky Steamed Fish Custard in Banana
Pouches and Spicy Green Papaya Salad to zesty sauces and accompaniments to desserts that rival those of any cuisine, Cracking the Coconut will take you on a culinary journey never before possible.
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