A few years ago Thai restaurants were rare but that’s changed, and some lucky folks even get to have holidays in Thailand. They return home and search for those exotic and evocative tastes of Bangkok. Whilst it’s true that one can find some authentic dishes in those aforementioned restaurants, one can’t eat out very often …unless one is also a restaurant reviewer.
Thai Bible is part of a series from Dorling Kindersley, little books that seem to weigh a lot for their size. 150 or so recipes in this particular volume and a raft of colour photographs to tempt one into the kitchen. The cooking techniques are simple and most dishes are fast to prepare. You’ll find the majority of the ingredients at your local supermarket, although a trip to an Asian store might be necessary if you live in anything other than a cosmopolitan neighbourhood.
Looks like summer has arrived. It stayed dry in London for the Royal Wedding and many of us have got the barbecue dusted off in readiness for some scorching days. Well, OK, that might be a bit optimistic but we can indeed expect some al fresco dining opportunities, and there are many dishes in this volume that would lend themselves to such occasions. Barbecued Pork Ribs are simple to prepare and the essential marinade has few ingredients, all of which can be found in your regular supermarket. I am sure the recipe would work equally well if one used pork chops or even pork loin. Black pepper is the predominant spice here.
Asian desserts are few and far between, so it was a surprise to find almost a dozen here. Yes, they are Thai but they would be an apt finale to any Asian meal. Coconut Custard has only four ingredients and makes a stunning dinner party dessert with very little effort. Perhaps Mango Sorbet would be my star choice from the Sweets chapter, though. This recipe needs an ice-cream maker but you will be delighted by the end results of your very slight labours. Mango has a distinct flavour that loses nothing of its intensity in the freezing process.
I have several favourite recipes from Thai Bible. Mushrooms and Chinese Cabbage in Oyster Sauce is savoury and moreish. The oyster sauce is not at all fishy. It has in fact an almost meaty flavour which adds richness to simple vegetarian dishes.
Grilled Mackerel with Chilli and Tamarind Sauce is the must-try recommendation. Another one for the barbecue. This is an oily fish and we should eat more of it. It has a marked flavour that I find agreeable but this recipe offers a marinade of spicy character which might persuade guests who don’t like fishy fish to try a corner. The fish will cook in just 6 minutes so still time to slap on some burgers if those friends are still unconvinced.
Thai Bible is amazing value for money. A chunky book filled with practical recipes to remind you of long-haul vacations. Avoid the airport misery and enjoy those tantalising aromas and delicious meals emanating from your own kitchen.
Author: Jackie Passmore
Published by: Dorling Kindersley
Asian cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018