Spice I Am – a cook book review
I met Sujet recently when he was in London to promote his new book, Spice I Am, named after his restaurants in Sydney.
Sujet is a very talented chef, enhancing the skills he learnt from his mum. His story is an inspiring one, where he left his remote village in Thailand to embark on his higher education, the first in his family to attend college.
He started off with one restaurant and cooking only the most authentic Thai recipes using authentic ingredient, no compromise. Customers who ask for western variations or additions are often turned down. He now has several restaurants in Sydney and has a reputation as one of the top Thai chefs there.
In London, we visited Tawana on Chepstow road, then Loon Moon in Chinatown and we managed to source all the ingredients for the dish he wanted to prepare. Along the way, we had a chat about Thais restaurants in London and how he had not found one that cooked authentic Thai food. Most of them were adapating their dishes for the local clientele.
Going by our shopping expedition, it is not due to the shortage of authentic Thai inredients as you can get everything you want in London. We did agree that Addie’s Thai in Earls Court is the closest to what you would get in Thailand and when he asked the owners, event they had to dial down the authrenticity to suit the local clientele. Such a shame. I think that London gourmands would love the real authentic flavours and not the westernised version.
Spice I am: Home Style Thai Recipes is unlike any other Thai cook books that I have in that it has some not so ordinary Thai recipes. Definitely dishes I have not seen in any London Thai restaurants. Sujet has filled this book with homestyle recipes that anyone can cook at home. Case in point, this dish that he cooked for us below, the Chicken curry with pickled bamboo shoots. Not only are there recipes for curries, soups, noodles and rice dishes, there are recipes to make the curry pastes like red curry and green curry. He suggests that you use authentic Thai ingredients to get the right flavour.
The instructions are simple and clear to follow. The food photography is gorgeous and makes all the dishes come to life and will make you hungry. You don’t need to know any advanced cooking techniques to use this book. Just follow the simple steps and if you use the right ingredients, you will produce some great tasting dishes.
Getting to know Thai Ingredients
We went shopping at a few Thai and Asian supermarkets in London for some ingredients to cook a dish from his cookbook. Along the way, I was introduced to some ingredients which I have seen in the shops but had no idea what to do with them. Some of them have been explained below:
- Water mimosa is a Thai veg which is cooked like spinach or morning glory
- Krachai is used like a souring agent- a little goes a long way and is used in curries
- Authentic Pad Thai is cooked only with these thin pad thai rice noodles (I used to buy the fatter version)
- The spoonable palm sugar that you need in Thai recipes is the one that comes in a plastic jar like this. It is like a paste in the jar. Quite unlike the solid lumps of Malaysian palm sugar (gula melaka).
- The fresh spices like fresh turmeric, lime leaves and gallangal can be frozen so it’s handy to keep some in the freezer
Back at Books for Cooks, Sujet demonstrated one of the dishes from his book a red curry chicken with pickled bamboo shoots using one of his home made chilli pastes. You can find the recipe here.
Sujet’s delicious curry pastes were the star of the dish. It is really versatile and is used in many of the recipes in the book. The recipe for this is in the book. I intend to make a massive batch and freeze it ready for the next quick Thai curry.
I’d say that this is definitely the Thai cook book that you will turn to repeatedly. You can get a copy of this book from Amazon, Spice I am.