Thai Street Food by David Thompson – review

Street food is comfort. We in the UK might be drawn to the smell of fried onions wafting from a burger cart outside the local DIY store. Americans will think of potato knishes and hot Italian sausages with sweet peppers, and Thailand has enough street food to fill a book the size of the car park at the aforementioned hardware establishment.

asian cookbook review Thai Street Food This tome is huge and full of equally sizeable colour pictures that have the delectable food leaping from the page at you. Earl Carter, the photographer, truly deserves to have his name on the cover along with author David Thompson. This is a book that one could not fail to notice in the bookshop …although it’s doubtful that it will fit on any traditional shelf.

Thai Street Food is a cookbook, a photographic travelogue, and a glimpse of Thai culture. That culture has much to do with food, as in any civilized society. The dishes are delicious and vibrant with flavour. Those who have visited Thailand will attest to the popularity of the street food with locals and visitors alike.

This vast masterwork is divided into three sections: not by course but by time of day. Morning, Noon and Night all have their own dishes and they are indeed tempting. It’s true to say that there are quite a few ingredients for which you will need a good Asian grocer, but once you have the appropriate food-stuffs assembled then the cooking element is easy. Lots of grilling, frying, steaming and a bit of boiling. Nothing too onerous even for a novice cook.

My preferred breakfast dish from David’s collection is probably Pineapple and Dried Prawns with Kanom Jin Noodles. The dish is said to have been invented 150 years or so ago as an offering to the ever-present monks. These days the noodles are every-day fare. Use regular Chinese noodles if you cannot get the dry Kanom noodles. It’s that combination of sweet fruit, punchy chilli and salty prawn that I find so enticing as a morning wake-up meal. It’s got more going for it than Marmite on toast …although that is my breakfast of choice when in the UK.

That’s my notional brekkie sorted; and my lunch snack has got to be Crunchy Prawn Cakes. A simple fried preparation which is much enhanced by the Sweet Chilli and Peanut Sauce for dipping. A sweet and sour condiment that works well with seafood or indeed anything at all. If I felt in need of a more substantial repast then Chiang Mai Curried Noodles and Chicken would be on my menu. This is a dish of complex flavours and textures. The list of ingredients might seem outfacing but the execution is fast and the results delicious.

It’s night and the lanterns are lit and it’s time to eat again. Pork Hocks Braised with Five-spice Powder is my choice. It was originally a Chinese dish but the Thais have made it their own. It’s a substantial and aromatic wokful which only needs some rice to complete the meal. Chilli-vinegar to drizzle to cut through the rich fattiness, and deep joy is assured.

Thai Street Food has given me hours of pleasurable leafing-through, as well as awakening memories of amazing meals cooked by friends. It has also offered the promise of flavourful food in the future and cooked at these very coordinates. Plenty of choice of light snacks, hearty meals and even some rare desserts. A formidable book in every regard.

Thai Street Food
Author: David Thompson
Published by: Octopus Ltd.
Price: £40.00
ISBN 978-1-84091-558-7


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018