Thai Food by David Thompson

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Notes about this book

  • Eat Your Books

    2003 James Beard Award Winner

  • mziech on February 03, 2011

    a blogger from california cooked thai dishes for one month using this book, with lots of pictures, nice for inspiration http://dishaday.blogspot.com/

  • Chris A on July 31, 2010

    One of the three or four most important books in my collection.

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Red curry of scallops (Chuu chii hoi shenn)

    • mirage on January 16, 2010

      5 stars with fish - less with scallops

  • Bean sprout salad (Yam tua nork)

    • wester on November 27, 2018

      Easy to make and very tasty. I liked it, hubby loved it. Also very different from other salads, with its peanut-coconut dressing. I did think the dressing was too thick, next time I will thin it a bit.

    • abettino on October 23, 2011

      Easy and delicious.

  • Cucumber and prawn salad (Yam dtaeng gwa)

    • wester on November 27, 2018

      Fresh and flavorful, with a clearly Thai flavor. Both me and hubby loved it. I replaced the chillies with 1/4 tsp of sambal and omitted the sugar. I also used just one shallot, but it was pretty big. I'm not that sure the prawns are essential to this salad.

    • Dannausc on September 14, 2020

      Quite good

  • Red chicken curry with ginger and green beans (Geng sap nok gai)

    • Eurydice on May 14, 2012

      I thought it was well worth blitzing up the paste for this dish. My husband wasn't keen on one of the flavours though. Maybe the galangal?

    • Dannausc on September 14, 2020

      Quite a bit of prep, but super easy after that. Really good! My wife said she loved it!

  • Stir-fried rice noodles with chicken and Chinese broccoli (Gai pat sii uuu)

    • IvyManning on May 04, 2020

      Very bland and sweet.

    • twoyolks on November 05, 2016

      The sauce for this was just too sweet with the amount of added sugar. I'd also like a larger portion of Chinese broccoli and less meat.

  • Steamed egg mousse (Kai dtun)

    • nickrey on August 03, 2010

      Similar to Chawanmushi

  • Chiang Mai-style larp of pork (Larp Chiang Mai muu)

    • milgwimper on July 02, 2014

      Loved this recipe, and it was well received. What little was left over were excellent with tortilla chips.

  • Spicy minced chicken salad (Larp gai)

    • lorloff on April 18, 2020

      Very good Larb Gai recipe. I used cooked poached chicken and his suggested method for hand chopping worked very well. I used big handfuls of cilantro and used an Indian chili I had on hand and some Thai chile as well. Added roasted rice powder, a little ground galanga, and a small amount of powdered lime leaf - these were spices I brought back from Thailand. Will make again.

  • Fish and vegetable curry with wild ginger, white pepper and lemon basil (Geng liang pla)

    • mziech on December 11, 2011

      Did not like this recipe a lot, because the wild ginger (grachai) had a overwhelming taste. Recommend making "Bream and green gourd simmered in coconut cream" which has similar ingredients but also coconut milk and is more balanced.

  • Crispy fish cakes (Pla fuu)

    • mziech on December 11, 2011

      Not so difficult to make as the recipe says. If the oil is the right temperature the fish pieces stick easily together. The smoked trout is a nice addition (I smoked it myself, which did work out fine). The recipe does take some time to make, you have to fry the cakes one by one to keep control of the temperature of the oil.

  • Prawn and lemongrass relish (Nahm prik dtakrai)

    • mziech on December 11, 2011

      I really liked this relish. Nice balance between the prawns and lemongrass. Final version was quite liquid (all ingredients need to be mashed with a pestal and mortar). Used witlof and cucumber as an accompaniment.

  • Egg mousse with pineapple, corn and salted duck eggs (Kai dtun lert)

    • mziech on December 11, 2011

      I made this recipe one time, but it didn't set after steaming, so was very liquid. Will try again, taste was really nice.

  • Bream and green gourd simmered in coconut cream (Geng liang pla)

    • mziech on December 11, 2011

      Nicely balanced curry. Really liked the wild ginger with coconut milk and fish combination.

  • Deep-fried bean curd with crab, pork and spring onions (Tor huu yord sai tort)

    • mziech on December 11, 2011

      The filling of crab, pork and spring onion could have had more flavor. Thought it a bit bland. Takes some time to make, bean curd needs to be steamed and then cooled, then fried. The basis was there though, will try to make this again.

  • Chicken curry with holy basil, ginger and peanuts (Geng gai haeng)

    • mziech on December 11, 2011

      Easy to make recipe, great balance of flavors. Curry paste can be made in advance.

    • Dannausc on September 14, 2020

      Fairly quick and easy. Good.

  • Grilled prawn curry (Ngob gung)

    • Allegra on April 03, 2013

      Stellar recipe! Made about 1.5x the amount (using up all the curry paste), with about 1lb of shrimp and half grated coconut, half coconut cream/milk. Made 4 banana leaf packets to divide the shrimp & sauce into. The dish was mildly spicy, a little bit sweet, and just exploding with enticing flavours and fragrance. This one is going into the grilling rotation.

  • Chiang Mai curried noodle and chicken soup (Kao soi gai)

    • Allegra on April 03, 2013

      The best khao soi I've ever eaten! Made a double batch, increased the meat & noodles. Served with recommended roasted chile sauce, which added to the flavour dimensions. The lime is necessary to round out the dish. Very good!

  • Beef panaeng (Geng panaeng neua)

    • twoyolks on December 07, 2015

      This was good but was sweeter than I'd like. It was also very soupy.

    • cathinchley on May 28, 2016

      Have made this recipe a number of times with chuck, and made it tonight with beef brisket. Never going back to chuck - it was amazing. Agree with twoyolks that it can be very sweet - I only added a little less than a tablespoon of palm sugar and was still sweet to my taste. Definitely start with 1/3 to 1/2 of the palm sugar in the recipe. Also, the recipe for the paste made about 8 tablespoons, and the recipe calls for 4. We also increased the amount of meat used as we felt the meat-sauce ratio was too far in favour of sauce - perhaps again leading to twoyolks comment r.e. soupy

  • Rice noodles and pork with thickened "gravy" (Raat nar muu)

    • twoyolks on January 10, 2017

      This was very flavorful and very good. The sweet soy sauce added a bit of sweetness. I would use more pork and more broccoli in the future as there was enough sauce for noodles for two but not enough meat or vegetable.

  • Rice noodle and minced pork soup (Gwio sen mii muu sap)

    • twoyolks on December 18, 2015

      This was a really simple and easy soup but was really flavorful and good. I used half water and half strong pork stock for the stock. This recipe only makes one serving. For 2 servings, I ended up using 1 lbs of fresh rice noodles (for Pho) which seemed like quite a lot but actually worked out well. This soup could easily see some improvisation: some chile or some lime juice would probably go well.

  • Stir-fried beef with spices (Neua pat nahm prik pao kaek)

    • thekitchenchronicles on November 10, 2014

      This was a real disappointment. I'll take credit for some of it (my nahm prik pao must have crystallized, I didn't realize it was so sticky/hard and by the time I got it into my wok I had overcooked the beef) but the overall flavor was really, really salty (and I didn't even add the full amount of salt OR fish sauce) and the color was an unappetizing grey.

  • Aromatic duck curry (Geng gari bpet)

    • JLDuck on November 20, 2017

      I left out the potato and ate with rice. Need to add more sauce if this is done.

  • Salmon and coconut soup (Dtom khaa pla salmon)

    • thecharlah on February 11, 2015

      Very tasty, but it wasn't clear what to do with the seasonings (galangal, chilies, etc.) after assembling the soup.

  • Stir-fried minced beef with chillies and holy basil (Neua pat bai grapao)

    • MmeFleiss on September 13, 2017

      I made this in 1/2 pound batches, keeping everything else the same except for the large chilies which were halved and doubling the garlic. It was perfect. About the same level of heat as medium salsa.

    • Dannausc on September 14, 2020

      The paste took quite awhile to pound, but it was super easy after that. Good but not quite as good as I had hoped.

  • Pat Thai

    • tmitra on July 02, 2020

      This was the first recipe I made from this book, and while it's more accessible than many of the others I flipped past, I still found it too vague. I corrected some of my issues in my second attempt (soaked the noodles longer and altered the balance of sauce ingredients), but this isn't the book for me at this early stage in my Thai cooking career.

  • Chilli jam (Nahm prik pao)

    • metacritic on March 26, 2020

      Takes a little bit of effort but once complete you have 1-2 years worth of an amazing jam that enlivens soups and brings mussels or shrimp to a level you might not have known exists.

  • Chicken and vegetable curry (Geng kae gai)

    • Dannausc on September 14, 2020

      Fairly quick and easy. Good.

  • Freshly salted beef (Neua kem sot)

    • Dannausc on September 14, 2020

      I made it with venison. Good but really salty.

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Reviews about this book

  • Kitchn by Faith Durand

    For anyone curious about Thai flavors...this book is the most in-depth, beautiful, readable introduction to how to get those flavors at home.

    Full review
  • ISBN 10 1580084621
  • ISBN 13 9781580084628
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published Aug 01 2002
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 688
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Celestial Arts

Publishers Text

2003 James Beard Award Winner! International Category!


Renowned chef David Thompson first went to Thailand by mistake; a holiday plan had to be changed at the last minute, and he ended up in Bangkok, where he was seduced by the people, culture, and cuisine. Since that fateful trip some 20 years ago, Thailand has become David's second home. Working alongside cooks who perfected their craft in the Thai food places, he began to document the traditional recipes and culinary techniques that have been handed down from generation to generation.


The result is this volume, the most comprehensive account of this ancient and exotic cuisine ever published in English. Thompson writes about Thailand and its food with an easy erudition, encouraging readers to cook and experiment, while simultaneously fostering a respect for the food and its stewardship through the ages.


Although all the classic, well-loved recipes are here, this magnum opus features hundreds of lesser-known but equally authentic and delicious Thai dishes that will inspire cooks to go beyond green curry chicken and Thai fish cakes. Thompson's passion and conviction are infectious; complemented by Earl Carter's superb photography, this book captures all aspects of dynamic Thai culture and cuisine.



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