Tuesday, 8 March 2016

"Hot Thai Kitchen" by Pailin Chongchitnant | Book Review

Hot Thai Kitchen by Pailin Chongchitnant
Publishing Date: March 8, 2016
Pages: 264
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Kobo

Pailin Chongchitnant grew up in Thailand, watching all the beautiful, fragrant food being made in her kitchen. She became a Cordon Bleu-educated chef in San Francisco and, wanting to share her knowledge and teach people about Thai cuisine, she started her own cooking show on YouTube called Hot Thai Kitchen!

Pailin really seeks to educate in this cookbook. There is so much interesting, useful information in this book for those of us who are interested in learning about Thai food - there are nearly 100 pages before the "Recipes" section, with everything from how Thais eat, to iconic dishes from different regions of Thailand, to the structure of a Thai dish.

One section I found very interesting was "How to Make an Educated Substitution". In this, Pailin teaches us what we need to consider about the recipe before we decide what substitute to use. What you use depends on several factors, and it's great information to have so you can rest assured you're still making an authentically Thai dish.

Another great section is "Where to Buy Thai Ingredients". It's important to note that Thai cuisine involves a particular set of ingredients. I consider my kitchen to be very well-stocked, but I was missing tons of ingredients because Thai food involves a lot of ingredients I don't generally keep on hand. That said, I was still able to make delicious food from this book, using only what I had at home.

And now, on to the food!

My absolute favourite dish I made, and the one that was by far the biggest hit with my family, were the Crispy Spring Rolls. For some reason I had anticipated these being hard to make, but I actually found them pretty simple and kind of therapeutic to make! I didn't have spring roll wrappers, which the recipe asked for, so instead I used rice paper and I think it worked out really well. These spring rolls are so delicious and I'm already looking for an excuse to make more.
Clockwise from the top: Crispy Spring Rolls (p. 162); Street-
Style Fried Bananas (p. 225); Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with
Soy Sauce & Chinese Broccoli

Whenever I'm at a restaurant and I see that they have fried bananas, that's my go-to dessert. So when I saw this recipe for Street-Style Fried Bananas, it wasn't even a question, I knew I was going to make these. Again, I didn't have the Namwa bananas or sweet plantains that the recipe called for, so I used regular bananas and they worked great. This dish is a nice balance of sweet (from the sugar and coconut) and savoury (from the sesame seeds).

The last dish I made from the cookbook was Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with Soy Sauce & Chinese Broccoli. Now, I made a lot of substitutions in this recipe (instant noodles instead of rice noodles, broccoli instead of Chinese broccoli), but I kept the sauce pretty close to what was called for. Even though the ingredients were quite different from the recipe, I really like how the dish turned out!

All in all, Hot Thai Kitchen is a very informative cookbook full of pretty photography and delicious recipes. It's great for anyone interested in learning about Thai cuisine and becoming acquainted with new ingredients!

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

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