I was in Asia Books earlier today at Seacon Sqaure browsing the Thai food section. I am always on the lookout for new books. I no longer want those recipe books as they are all much the same as each other. I am now more interested to learn about the ingredients and cooking methods. One good book that is missing from the shelves for sure is a comprehensive one on street food. “Thai Hawker Food” is good but relies too heavily on drawings instead of pictures. And it isn’t very comprehensive.
A new book just out is called “Herbs and Spices of Thailand” by Hugh T.W. Tan. Here is an extract from the back cover:
“Thai cusine is often regarded as one of the best in the world, if not the best. Made with fresh ingredients, Thai food is aromatic, tasty, healthy and full of interesting textures. These sumptuous aromas and tastes are largely the result of the herbs and spices used to flavour the dishes. Surprisingly, only thirty or so herbs and spices are used in Thai cooking; it is the ingenious combination or blending of these ingredients that makes Thai food so unique and flavoursome.”
So, what are these herbs and spices so important in Thai cooking? Here is the list from this book:
Hoary basil, holy basil, sweet basil, bird peppers and chilis, cinnamon, Chinese keys, kaffir lime, cumin, clove, galangal, coriander plant and fruit, garlic, ginger, star anise, shallot, lemon grass, mint, nutmeg, onion, sawtooth coriander, screwpine, pepper, tamarind, turmeric, torch ginger, bay leaf, spring onion and cardamom.
There are plenty of illustrations throughout this book. Not only of the herbs and spices but also sometimes of the bigger plant itself. It also gives you a list of dishes that use each of the ingredients illustrated. I think this book is an excellent introduction to Thailand’s herbs and spices.
(Pictures of the herbs and spices can be found on page 2…)