Pok Pok The Drinking Food of Thailand

Picture it, New York, August of 2011, I was watching an episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network when I paused the show to rewind. "Pok Pok? Did I hear that correctly? Rahm Fama was talking about Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from this magical place in Portland named Pok Pok.

How do I remember this? It's the moment I started following Andy Ricker and wondering when a cookbook would be forthcoming. Two years later, Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand was born. Ike's wings, cucumber salad, and the noodles with pork, peanuts and herbs are three of my favorites from the original book. 

Late October of 2017, the author published his second cookbook Pok Pok: The Drinking Food of Thailand. Ricker's rambunctious no-holds-barred style that we come to expect and appreciate is served with a drink in hand. The book features 50 Aahaan Kap Klaem style recipes (drinking food) and travelogue-like essays, inspired by the more laid-back Whiskey Soda Lounge, another of Ricker's hot spots in Portland. 

Ricker is a respected authority on Thai cuisine. His books bring us approachable yet detailed recipes that we can easily recreate at home such as Thai-style fried chicken and Thai papaya salad. For the more devout adventurer, there are dishes such as Pig's brains grilled in banana leaf or Dancing shrimp using live shrimp but you have the option of using dearly departed seafood. I don't believe there is enough drink in all of Thailand to encourage me to deal with live shrimp trying to escape my bowl, but one never knows - I'm a cheap date - one drink and done.

To me, Ricker's books are no brainers (pigs, excluded). His books transport the reader to Thailand and bury us deep in the culture and cuisine. With the charisma of an impassioned minister, you will follow Ricker's tales and be inspired to bring them home in your own kitchen. Praise the chef and pass the whiskey. 

Special thanks to Ten Speed Press for sharing the Salt-chile dip for green mango recipe below and for providing three copies of this book in our contest open to US members. Head to the bottom of this post to enter. 

Phrik Kleua  Salt-chile dip for green mango
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

Special equipment: A Thai granite mortar and pestle

◊ serves 4 to 8 ◊

4 g /12 stemmed dried Thai chiles
100 g /½ cup rock sugar
36 g /¼ cup kosher salt
2 green mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into spears

Even the most informal bars in Thailand have food. By day, a table on the sidewalk might host a modest pork butcher shop. By night, a relative of the pork butcher runs a curbside drinking establishment, with the same table now draped with an oilcloth. There's an ice bucket, a pitcher of water, and assorted bottles of rice­ based liquor, like lao khao, ya dawng, and Sang Som, the ubiquitous brand of Thai rum. A woman dispenses shots to men who have already consumed enough to tell you loudly in English that you will "save the world." You slowly realize that they're referring to the movie Armageddon. This is not the first time a drunk Thai man has informed you that you look like Bruce Willis. At a place like this, the food on offer is simple- probably sliced fresh fruit with salty­ sweet chile powder for dipping. I especially like it when the fruit is green mango, which is crunchy and far more tart than sweet. In the States, there's pretty much just one variety to choose from. Sold mainly at Southeast Asian and South Asian markets, the green mangoes you're after aren't just firm and unripe but also actually green- not mottled or greenish- in color.

Firmly pound the chiles in the mortar to a fairly fine powder. Add the sugar and pound to a fairly fine powder. Add the salt, mix, then pound until the mixture has the texture of granulated sugar. You should have about 85 g /½ cup. It will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 2 weeks. Serve the mangoes with about 22 g /2 tablespoons of the chile mixture.

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on April 5th, 2018.


  • lgroom  on  3/2/2018 at 9:37 AM

    Grilled pork skewers.

  • AlexH  on  3/2/2018 at 9:54 AM

    Bouncy Pork Balls! (Now that’s a fun recipe title!)

  • Teruska  on  3/2/2018 at 10:25 AM

    Always looking for another way to prepare squid so the Yam plaa meuk, Squid salad. Then probably the stir-fried clams. Oh yum!

  • tori7646  on  3/2/2018 at 11:14 AM

    Fried minced pork patties (Laap muu thawt)! These sound absolutely delicious, and I know my fiance would love them.

  • heyjude  on  3/2/2018 at 11:44 AM

    Squid Salad

  • lean1  on  3/2/2018 at 12:40 PM

    Everything looks interesting. But Glass noodle salad would be first on my list.

  • sarahawker  on  3/2/2018 at 12:54 PM

    Bouncy pork balls (Muu deng)

  • ravensfan  on  3/2/2018 at 2:12 PM

    Red-eye chile dip (Naam phrik taa daeng)

  • lpatterson412  on  3/2/2018 at 2:17 PM

    Thai Style Barbeque Beef Skewers!!!

  • kmn4  on  3/2/2018 at 3:20 PM

    Fried minced pork patties (Laap muu thawt)

  • ejsimpson  on  3/2/2018 at 5:21 PM

    Phrae-style minced pork "salad" (Laap Phrae)

  • jmay42066  on  3/2/2018 at 5:35 PM

    Thai Style Barbeque Beef Skewers, my hubby would love these!

  • MisoMooli  on  3/2/2018 at 5:52 PM

    Fried sour pork ribs

  • Nhcookingdiva  on  3/2/2018 at 7:23 PM

    The fish sauce wings look amazing! I saw this restaurant profiled on DDD and was intrigued. Would love to try these recipes!

  • Scotsman61  on  3/2/2018 at 7:44 PM

    Red-eye chile dip with Bouncy Pork Balls Sounds like a great meal to me

  • CaroleMermaid  on  3/2/2018 at 8:33 PM

    Grilled pork skewers!!! Yum!!!

  • BMeyer  on  3/2/2018 at 9:53 PM

    minced pork salad

  • Maaseelulu  on  3/2/2018 at 10:16 PM

    Tamarind water

  • gregehrlich  on  3/2/2018 at 10:26 PM

    Good lord this looks insane. Fried pig ears will be my first attempt.

  • DarcyVaughn  on  3/2/2018 at 11:31 PM

    Isaan fermented pork-and-rice sausages (Sai krawk Isaan)

  • t.t  on  3/3/2018 at 1:45 AM

    Fried papaya salad (Som tam thawt)

  • rchesser  on  3/3/2018 at 1:39 PM

    Thai-style fried chicken (Kai thawt)

  • lorloff  on  3/4/2018 at 12:50 AM

    https://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/recipes/1899295/stir-fried-chicken-wings-with hot basil and chiles

  • LaurenE  on  3/4/2018 at 8:27 AM

    Glass noodle salad

  • Dannausc  on  3/4/2018 at 5:23 PM

    Dancing shrimp

  • Shelley.b  on  3/4/2018 at 5:38 PM

    Dancing shrimp

  • Siegal  on  3/4/2018 at 9:17 PM

    I want to make the red eye chili dip

  • abihamm  on  3/6/2018 at 8:45 AM

    Spicy, sweet, tart noodles with pork, peanuts, and herbs (Ba mii tom yam muu haeng)

  • kitchenclimbers  on  3/6/2018 at 1:42 PM

    Glass noodle salad

  • johnkelly  on  3/7/2018 at 2:48 AM

    Good way to drinking in Thailand while travelling with your friends. https://www.jmposner.co.uk/supplies/waffle-supplies/

  • JenJoLa  on  3/7/2018 at 5:11 AM

    Chicken three ways (Kai saam yang)

  • mvdavies  on  3/7/2018 at 6:09 AM

    Tamarind water

  • Jenamarie  on  3/8/2018 at 9:36 AM

    Thai-style fried chicken (Kai thawt)

  • EmilyR  on  3/9/2018 at 8:56 AM

    Glass noodle salad (Yam wun sen)

  • TippyCanoe  on  3/12/2018 at 4:16 AM

    Sour Northern Thai "village chicken" soup (Tom som kai baan)

  • NaomiH  on  3/12/2018 at 11:38 AM

    Phrae-style minced pork "salad" (Laap Phrae)

  • AnnaZed  on  3/13/2018 at 2:13 AM

    Fried peanuts with makrut lime leaves, garlic and chiles (Thua thawt samun phrai)

  • eveaway  on  3/15/2018 at 4:06 PM

    I would like to try the recipe for Drunkard's stir-fry (Phat khii mao) from Pok Pok: The Drinking Food of Thailand (page 201) (by Andy Ricker and JJ Goode), with changes to make the recipe vegetarian/ vegan!!! Thanks!

  • Singleta417  on  3/18/2018 at 11:08 PM

    Dancing shrimp

  • sgump  on  3/19/2018 at 9:22 AM

    The fried cashews with salt, chiles, and green onions (yam met mamuang himaphaan)!

  • robynsanyal  on  3/20/2018 at 9:33 AM

    Fried sour pork ribs

  • thecharlah  on  3/20/2018 at 7:58 PM

    Pork ribs cooked "underwater" (Sii khrong muu tai naam)

  • circ2000  on  3/23/2018 at 7:49 PM

    Thai Style Barbeque Beef Skewers

  • OzarkChef  on  3/23/2018 at 8:16 PM

    I want to try Bouncing Pork Balls. The name intrigues me.

  • lisambb  on  3/23/2018 at 8:17 PM

    Glass noodle salad

  • Julia  on  3/23/2018 at 10:56 PM

    Dancing shrimp

  • mombaker247  on  3/24/2018 at 6:26 AM

    Fried peanuts with makrut lime leaves, garlic and chile. I have an Asian garden, with a kaffir lime tree.

  • leilx  on  3/24/2018 at 9:24 AM

    Definitely tamarind water as Inloved it when I was in Thailand. Also spicy fried cashews.

  • RickPearson54  on  3/24/2018 at 1:57 PM

    dancing shrimp

  • choppergirl  on  3/25/2018 at 8:43 AM

    Sour Northern Thai "village chicken" soup (Tom som kai baan)

  • MusicCityMissy  on  3/25/2018 at 11:53 AM

    Sour Northern Thai "village chicken" soup (Tom som kai baan)

  • RSW  on  3/25/2018 at 7:20 PM

    Northern Thai stewed beef (Kaeng awm neua)

  • Sfgordon  on  3/26/2018 at 12:12 AM

    I would make the fried cashews with salt, chile and green onions. I miss the Pok Pok that used to be in LA and I'd love to recreate this dish at home!

  • Uhmandanicole  on  3/26/2018 at 4:35 AM

    Fried papaya salad

  • fbrunetti  on  3/26/2018 at 9:31 AM

    Fried sour pork ribs

  • snavien  on  3/26/2018 at 11:10 AM

    minced pork salad!

  • snavien  on  3/26/2018 at 11:10 AM

    minced pork salad, vietnamese fish sauce wings

  • tararr  on  3/26/2018 at 7:29 PM

    Dancing Shrimp

  • hirsheys  on  3/27/2018 at 8:32 PM

    Fried minced pork patties (Laap muu thawt)

  • Jostlori  on  3/28/2018 at 10:46 PM

    Instant Noodle Salad (Yam Mama)

  • timetoeat  on  3/29/2018 at 3:53 AM

    Fried peanuts with makrut lime leaves, garlic and chiles (Thua thawt samun phrai)

  • Sandiegolemons  on  3/30/2018 at 6:10 PM

    Drunkard’s stir fry

  • Shelley.b  on  4/1/2018 at 2:51 PM

    Red eye chili dip

  • Sueskitchen  on  4/2/2018 at 8:02 AM

    Papaya salad

  • sipa  on  4/2/2018 at 4:03 PM

    Thai-style fried chicken

  • sdg8trgrl  on  4/2/2018 at 5:30 PM

    Fried minced pork patties

  • orchidlady01  on  4/3/2018 at 2:52 AM

    Thai-style barbecue beef skewers

  • amferrer  on  4/3/2018 at 12:06 PM

    thai-style chicken

  • lebarron2001  on  4/5/2018 at 9:26 AM

    Drunkard's stir-fry (Phat khii mao)

  • littleminxgirl  on  4/5/2018 at 9:50 PM

    the bouncy pork balls.. that's just fun to wrote :-)

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