Thursday, February 28, 2008

Real Vegetarian Thai

In an earlier posting, I spoke highly of Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes by Nancie McDermott. I received a copy at Christmas and have been enjoying its recipes, not least of which has been curries with green curry paste I made myself.

Building on that success, we recently got a copy of her Real Vegetarian Thai for the bookstore, which I have had a quick look at. This is not really a comparable offering, since it more thorough in every way. The comparable book is her Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking, which I haven't had a chance to examine. In my family, I have vegetarians who care deeply about preparing food and knowing what goes into their bodies, and I have those that would gladly live on grilled cheese sandwiches every day. If you are in the first category, vegetarian or not, you want to look at Real Vegetarian Thai. (If you are in the second category, please start with Quick & Easy.) This book doesn't have the color photographs that make Quick & Easy so visually attractive, but there are more recipes.

Compared to Quick & Easy, there is more context provided for each section and recipe, enhancing your understanding of Thai cuisine. There are recipes for making each of the Thai style curry pastes, along with many other basic recipes. There is even a discussion of opening coconuts and making your own coconut milk (not the coconut water sloshing around in whole coconuts). And why have a grilled cheese sandwich when red curry with hard-boiled eggs and peas is quick to assemble from ingredients in your refrigerator right now, along with a few items easy to add to your pantry. Vegan alternatives are suggested for recipes with eggs or cheese.

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