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Simple Thai Food

Simple Thai Food is a collection of classic Thai recipes nearly all of which appear on the menus of Thai restaurants worldwide. In her debut book, Leela has taken over 100 Thai dishes, well-known among Thai-food enthusiasts around the globe, particularly in North America, and simplified them for home cooks, streamlining the procedures and offering acceptable substitutes for ingredients that are hard to source outside Thailand, without sacrificing the taste or the integrity of the dishes.

Simple Thai Food has garnered several praises from readers and the media.

THE BOSTON GLOBE

“… The work developed into this, her first cookbook, and it shows a confidence and care absent in many books by more seasoned authors. […] “Simple Thai Food” is what it says: unusually simple, and still really Thai. It’s written with grace, dedication, and humor, and there’s
nothing like it on the market. […] In other words, if you want a single Thai book, this is it.”

 

 

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

“Punyaratabandhu […] does simplify the complexity of Thai cuisine. The author walks the home cook through all the stages of meal preparation, from making green curry paste from scratch to chutneys and desserts […] To write this book, she travelled back to Bangkok where she visited friends and family and interviewed street vendors and other cooks so she could best capture the flavours of her home country in a way that a North American could get.”

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“Thai has long been underrepresented in my pantry, my refrigerator and on my cookbook shelves because I never felt I had enough support to cook much beyond a beef curry made with canned coconut milk and a commercial red curry paste. Punyaratabandhu’s practical and calming tone — plus her delicious-sounding recipes — make me want to do much more Thai cooking.”

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

“I have generally found “Quick,” “Easy,” and “Simple” to be disingenuous labels when it comes to Thai cookbooks […] But Punyaratabandhu seems to pull it off, coming up with recipes that are weeknight-doable yet electric with ingredients you can just about find if you try hard (dried shrimp, kaffir lime leaf, palm sugar). Shortcuts or not, they’re desperately delicious.”

THE CHICAGO READER

“… I don’t publish anything on Thai food before running it past Friend of the Food Chain Leela Punyaratabandhu. In English, no one is writing more authoritatively on the subject than she. For readers of her blog SheSimmers this has been evident for years, and it was only cemented with the publication of her first cookbook, Simple Thai Food…”

THE TORONTO STAR, Food & Wine:

I judge cookbooks two ways. First by how many recipes I want to make when I flip through them, then by how well the recipes work. Simple Thai Food scores on both fronts, making it my favourite cookbook of 2015.”

TOP 50 CONTENDERS FOR THE EPICURIOUS COOKBOOK CANON

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“… There is enough here for both the novice to Thai flavors and the experienced eater. All in all, this is a solid, simple introduction to Thai food …”

THE BOSTON GLOBE: TOP 10 COOKBOOKS OF 2014

Amplify your storebought curry pastes with a few smartly chosen aromatics for surprisingly authentic results. Written by the popular shesimmers.com blogger, this is the best home Thai book currently available.

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: GOOD READS OF 2014

Often I find that “simple Thai” cookbooks are either not so simple or not so Thai. But blogger Leela Punyaratabandhu (shesimmers.com) has a way of marrying convenience with high flavor. Store-bought curry pastes mingle with fresh aromatics like Kaffir lime and lemongrass, and substitutions are welcome. Once in a while, there will be a real stumper — fingerroot or young green peppercorns — in the mix. But mostly, these dishes are fragrant winners that can be sourced and cooked even on a school night.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: THE 20 BEST COOKBOOKS OF 2014

Punyaratabandhu’s recipes are simple, but she hasn’t dumbed them down for North Americans. She’s a masterful hand-holder: If you love Thai food but the ingredients and preparation have you cowed, this is the book to get. There’s a sensational red-curry duck with pineapple, excellent papaya salad, real-deal hot-and-sour chicken soup, and sensible advice about what to make yourself and what to cheat and purchase at the Asian grocer’s.

SERIOUS EATS: OUR FAVORITE READS OF 2014

A slip of a book, Leela Punyaratabandhu’s Simple Thai Food was a welcome addition to my growing collection of Southeast Asian cookbooks. It takes a measured approach to traditional Thai cuisine; it is neither dogmatic nor full of shortcuts. Some of its recipes are familiar—think tom kha gai, pad thai, and green papaya salad. Still others, like her curious leaf-wrapped salad bites filled with nuts, dried shrimp, and raw ginger, are a delightful revelation. Punyaratabandhu writes most of these recipes as she would prepare them for Thai guests, using scratch-made curry pastes and generally hard-to-find ingredients. Yet in her extensive and detailed headnotes, she includes helpful hints for preparation, shopping tips, and, most importantly, good ideas for substitutes. In this way, readers are given a wealth of options, none more (or less) delicious than the last.”