Modern Thai Food is a large-format volume with some of the most stunning food photography I have ever seen. Jeremy Simons takes advantage of full pages to present the most exquisite close-ups. A simple Ginger Martini is beautiful in its organic whiteness, and the Egg Net Rolls with Pork and Shrimp bursts with colour and linen-like texture.
But you’ll want to buy Modern Thai Food for its recipes and these don’t disappoint either. The author Martin Boetz runs Longrain Restaurant and Bar in Sydney, and this book reflects his interpretation of contemporary Thai food garnished with some Australian inspiration. You’ll have no problem finding the ingredients in the UK; most of them will already be familiar to you and those more obscure ones will be on the shelves of your local Asian emporium.
Martin starts with a chapter on basic condiments and pastes that you will need for the recipes that follow, and I will be making Pickled Ginger first. It’s a garnish for salads but I would add this to steamed rice as well. Another garnish is the simple Roasted Chilli, Sugar and Salt. Use this to sprinkle over fried calamari or over nuts for a moreish snack.
All the dishes here are tempting and some of them are classics or Martin’s interpretations thereof, and a couple of the grilled meat dishes are liable to join my list of regular dinners. Grilled Beef Curry with Peanuts: 200g of rump steak will feed 4 people, with a side dish of rice. The same weight of pork will give you the main ingredient for the fresh and sweet Grilled Pork Pineapple Curry. One can pick up a pineapple for less than a pound for most of the year in Asian supermarkets, and this recipe only uses a quarter of it. Non-pork eaters can replace the meat with some seafood.
Martin offers a couple of exotic ice creams to finish your Thai meal, or any meal. Palm Sugar Ice Cream needs no garnishing and has few ingredients. Palm sugar is dark and rich and is well worth seeking out for this delicious recipe. If you fancy something a little less caramelly then try the Passionfruit Ice Cream. Its base is the same custard as the Palm Sugar Ice Cream but it replaces the palm sugar with some passionfruit pulp.
But back to that aforementioned Ginger Martini. Yes, the photograph is striking but so is the drink. Clean and light with a vibrant hit from the spice. This is my pick of the book and will doubtless be this yuletide’s beverage of choice. A winning cocktail from a worthy book.
Modern Thai Food
Author: Martin Boetz
Published by: Tuttle Publishing
Asian cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018