Samui Wining & Dining

March’s recommended ‘Thai Cuisine Website of The Month’ is the wonderfully compelling



Like most Thai food websites I review, this one was another I stumbled upon whilst browsing around. And I’m very glad I did. Overall, it’s probably the most interesting, informative and visually appealing site that I’ve encountered to date. I love it and it’s one you could spend hours exploring and I’d definitely recommend bookmarking it.

      It was created by a lady named Leela Punyaratabandhu who grew up in Bangkok but now resides in Chicago in the USA. She’s spent many years studying philology (the study of language in written historical sources), Thai history and cooking. And her website is dedicated to the memory of her mum who she says, “… was a cookbook addict who filled all the margins with her notes.”

       Her site has been up and running since 2008 and she contributes to it a couple of times a week. There’s no doubt she has a loyal and significant following as she has several people help her answer emails and inquiries. And it’s not just recipes and Thai food that she writes about; her thoughts and musings reflect her earlier studies and fascination with languages and prose and I’ll point you in the direction of some wonderful links later on.

       When you open up on the homepage there’s a selection of recent recipes, an archive list of past blogs and a link to her writings on different facets of Thailand. Do take the time to browse through the two latter sections. Not only are there some inspiring dishes to try out but you also get to know Leela a little better and see her world as a Thai national living and working in the States. Granted, she has been there for many years and writes better than most native English speakers. But she is still fundamentally Thai and, like expats who live here on Samui, she does retain strong ties to her home country.

       But back to the recipes and pick any one at random. I clicked on ‘Turmeric-roasted whole red snapper’; it’s a popular dish in the Thai restaurants on Samui. What I like about her approach though is that she usually begins with a story about why she posted the recipe or even what she was doing whilst making the dish. It gently pulls you in and the page then launches into a detailed ingredient list and easy to follow methodology. Her site is littered with fabulous photographs of the food she prepares and those alone make you want to rush out to the market. Below each recipe there’s an option to add some of your comments and many of her followers do just that, sometimes with some nice tips or alternative suggestions for making the dish.

       There’s an internal search engine and I’d recommend typing in ‘pad Thai’. You might think that this is one of the easiest Thai dishes to make but it’s often poorly cooked. Leela has some excellent suggestions on the type of pan and type of noodles to use to ensure that the noodles don’t come out soggy or sticky; something that I come across more often than I’d care to mention in Thailand.

       Along the top of the site there’re another five links where you can read more about her; get some in-depth information and tips on basic Thai ingredients, sauces and equipment; and another that indexes her recipes. The last two are also worth checking out. ‘She Tees’ has some quite unique T-shirts that you can order on-line. And ‘She Ploughs’ is a great link to her thoughts on a whole range of literary subjects that had me engrossed for hours (I did have a good laugh at her entries under ‘Thai idioms’).

       As I said, this is an outstanding Thai food website that offers so much more. If there’s a better one out there then I haven’t found it yet. ‘She simmers’? More like ‘she rocks’!


Johnny Paterson


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