Cracking the Coconut: Classic Thai Home Cooking

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Harper Collins, 2000 - Cooking - 326 pages
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For centuries Thai cooking has been among the world's most highly regarded cuisines and also among the most mysterious. For the first time the tastes, techniques, and traditions of Thai home cooking have been gathered into one extraordinary book: Cracking the Coconut by renowned Thai chef, teacher, and writer Su-Mei Yu.

More than a simple recipe book, this is a masterful work about the art and history of Thai cooking and the people who have shaped it. But, most important, it's about preparing, eating, and thoroughly enjoying the food of Thailand.

By taking readers step by step through shopping, preparing, and serving, Cracking the Coconut dispels the notion that Thai cooking is difficult. With Su-Mei's engaging narrative and easy-to-follow recipes, Thai cooking is suddenly accessible to everyone.

The wonder of Thai food begins with exquisite contrasts in flavors and textures. Su-Mei carefully explains each ingredient and its importance. Rice is the soul of Thai cooking; coconut is its heart; salt, garlic, cilantro, and peppercorns are its spirit; chile water is the crown jewel; and chiles (prikk) and fish sauce (namm pla) are the high notes and accents in the final dish.

Su-Mei shows you how, through the simple acts of mincing, pounding, and grinding, spices release their wonderfully fragrant oils and scents as they evolve into pastes. These spice pastes are what adds the intensity and depth of flavor so unique to Thai cooking. And of course, there are very detailed instructions for cracking a coconut.

You'll be able to create such evocatively titled dishes as Crying Tiger, Galloping Horse, and A Thief's Salad, which taste as intriguing as they sound. More familiar dishes such as satÉ with peanut sauce, mee krob, cucumber salad, and padd Thai will easily become family favorites.

Cracking the Coconut allows cooks of all levels to re-create the beauty and elegance of Thai home cooking in their own kitchens. From silky Steamed Fish Custard in Banana Pouches and Spicy Green Papaya Salad to zesty sauces and accompaniments to desserts that rival those of any cuisine, Cracking the Coconut will take you on a culinary journey never before possible.


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Cracking the Coconut: Classic Thai Home Cooking

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For fans of Southeast Asian cuisine, here are two excellent cookbooks. An immigrant from Vietnam to the United States, My Tran has developed her own simplified versions of favorite childhood dishes ... Read full review


RICE The Soul of Thai Cooking
COCONUT The Spirit of Thai Cooking
THE BIG FOUR SEASONINGS The Essence of Thai Cooking
CHILE WATER The Crown Jewel
THAI CURRY The Signature Dish
NOODLES A Thai Blessing

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About the author (2000)

Su-Mei Yu is the author of "Cracking the Coconut, " which won an IACP Cookbook Award in 2000 in the First Book Category, and "Asian Grilling." She is chef-owner of the acclaimed Saffron restaurant in San Diego, California. Born of Chinese parents in Thailand, at the age of five she was enrolled in an exclusive boarding school founded by the Royal Court of Thailand. At age fifteen, Su-Mei came to an American mission boarding school in Kentucky. After graduation, she received a master's degree in social welfare. After twelve years as a social worker, she joined the graduate school of social work at San Diego State University as an assistant professor. In 1985 Su-Mei opened the first Thai restaurant in San Diego.

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