Samui Wining & Dining

April’s ‘Thai Culinary Website of The Month’ is is a massive website that covers hundreds of topics. It’s owned by The New York Times Company and is aimed predominately at the US market, although it’s clearly accessible all over the world. A number of the subjects are about food and if you key in you’ll get straight to the heart of the matter. Each subject area is the responsibility of just one person and the Thai food section is written by Darlene Schmidt.


Her bio states that she’s an accomplished author, has studied Thai cuisine in Thailand and is often called upon to teach Thai cooking classes. Now given that her audience is mostly from North America she could be forgiven for dumbing it down a little but she makes it look relatively easy without taking shortcuts. For instance, she’s quite clear that some ingredients, like kaffir-lime leaves or lemon-grass, have no real substitute. And she’s to be commended for sticking to authentic recipes or stating when they are her own creations that use, say, seasonal American vegetables.


When you open the site you’ll see three links across the top: Thai cooking recipes, Easy Thai recipes and Classic recipes. I’ll come back to those later but before I do it’s worth having a look around the ‘home’ page. Down the left-hand side you can browse by topic and they range from curry dishes to noodles, fish, desserts, top tips, recommended reading, recipe reviews and a glossary. And that’s great if you know you want to make a curry, although she has 28 curry recipes listed so you’ll still need a bit of time to look through them. Down the centre of the home-page there’s a list of new recipes and some information about the dishes. And down the right-hand side there are recent blog posts (if that’s your thing), some very good quality videos of Thai food being prepared and an internal search-engine.


But let’s get back to those three links. And Thai cooking basics is very informative, particularly for the novice cook. It covers ingredients, equipment, cooking techniques, tips, menu planning, Thai culture, cookbooks and resources. And each of these has dozens of sub-sections that go into greater detail and cover just about everything you would want to know about Thai cuisine and how to cater for any occasion. If I do have a criticism, it’s the part entitled ‘Throwing a Thai dinner party’. In it, she suggests a couple of options for three different courses and anyone who has dined with Thais will tell you that all the food generally comes out at once and isn’t served in courses.


Onto the second link, Easy Thai recipes, and there’re hundreds to choose from here. They’re split into sections and every one has a picture of the dish, estimated preparation and cooking time (most around 20-30 minutes), a comprehensive list of ingredients and idiot-proof instructions on how to make it. And each one also has user reviews at the bottom. Interestingly, when I looked up the reviews for the Fish Curry, ten people gave it 5/5, one person 2/5, and one rather scathing person gave it a miserly 1/5 and stated the reasons why. At least the author is brave enough to publish the poor reviews as well as the good ones!


Finally, the last link has hundreds of classic Thai dishes and it takes some time to read through this link but they seem to be authentic. Overall, this is a very good site that has plenty of information and more Thai recipes than you could ever cook. It’s suitable for both beginners and experienced home cooks and should result in some rather pleasant evenings dining at home.


Johnny Paterson


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