Cover image for Cracking the coconut : classic Thai home cooking
Cracking the coconut : classic Thai home cooking
Yu, Su-mei.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2000]

Physical Description:
326 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX724.5.T5 Y87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
TX724.5.T5 Y87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Provides readers with the knowledge necessary to create Thai meals, and includes more than 175 recipes.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Thai food contrasts tastes and intense flavors to achieve drama and entice the palate. Yu's highly organized approach to Thai cooking attracts cooks who need to understand basic processes in cooking. Yu begins by inventorying a Thai kitchen's equipment and larder and outlines the differences between what's possible in a large kitchen as opposed to that in a small apartment. Following her suggestions, even those with minimum space can still aspire to prepare excellent Thai dishes at home. Her thorough descriptions of Thai cuisine's meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables guide novices through the mysteries of Asian markets. Recipes clearly indicate substitutions for the most difficult-to-find ingredients. As the title notes, Yu regards the coconut as Thai cooking's central ingredient, the source of much of its flavor appeal. This book is an exceptionally well-crafted guide for any English speaker wanting to master Southeast Asia's leading cuisine. --Mark Knoblauch

Publisher's Weekly Review

Owner of San Diego's Saffron Restaurant, Yu takes her Thai cooking seriously: she expects readers to pound curry pastes by hand in a mortar and pestle (a process that takes about 30 minutes)Dand don't even think about using canned coconut milk unless absolutely necessary. In compensation for all this work, Yu provides flawless and authentic recipes full of the fresh flavors of Thailand, such as Grilled Mackerel Salad with pickled garlic, coconut and peanuts and Beef and Pumpkin Stew with kabocha squash and cilantro. Recipes are organized loosely according to main ingredients, and in one chapter simply because they represent "The Thai Philosophy of Food," which consists of juxtaposing contrasting tastes. A chapter on fiery curries includes Red Curry with Roasted Pork and Green Banana and Sour-Orange Curry with Tender Vegetables. Aside from the work of grinding the curry paste, these can be assembled relatively quickly. Another chapter focuses on "The Big Four Seasonings," or salt, garlic, coriander root and peppercorns, and provides a recipe for a paste of the four that can be used in everything from fish batter and deep-frying batter to meatloaf. Noodle dishes are both hot (several types of Pad Thai) and cold (Cool Noodles with Jungle-Style Sauce). Thai salads are original and refreshing: Pomelo and Shrimp Salad and Banana Blossoms with Chicken Salad. Yu also writes beautifully of her own experiences cooking and eating in Thailand. For Thai novices and for those who are seeking to delve more deeply into this sophisticated and often surprising cuisine, this book is a must-have. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

For fans of Southeast Asian cuisine, here are two excellent cookbooks. An immigrant from Vietnam to the United States, My Tran has developed her own simplified versions of favorite childhood dishes, many of which now appear in The Vietnamese Cookbook. Her excellent introduction to one of Southeast Asia's most colorful cuisines provides more than 100 recipes for such tempting treats as Spring Rolls and Lemon Rice mixed in with a few pinches of personal recollections and some outstanding color photographs. Novice cooks will especially appreciate the clear, easy-to-understand layout of each recipe, which takes the intimidation out of preparing these dishes. My Tran's book will serve as a good complement to other, more classic Vietnamese cookbooks, such as Nicole Routhier's The Foods of Vietnam (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1989), and is recommended for most public libraries. Rather than simplifying or adapting recipes for American tastes and markets, chef and restaurant owner Su-Mei Yu instead serves up a cookbook that pays homage to the cuisine of her homeland while offering detailed instructions on preparing Thai dishes in the old manner. Cracking the Coconut covers everything from the equipment and ingredients needed to traditional preparation methods such as the use of a mortar and pestle. The text not only gives readers 175 delicious recipes but also provides a fascinating look at the history of Thai cooking as well as a few glimpses at the people and forces that have helped shape it. For the most part, the author forgoes the traditional cookbook arrangement by type of dish (i.e., appetizers, salads, desserts, etc.) and instead devotes chapters to a specific ingredient such as rice or a signature dish such as Thai salads. A sumptuous feast for both serious and armchair cooks, this lavishly detailed cookbook is highly recommended for all public libraries.DJohn Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
The Basics of Thai Cookingp. 5
Rice: The Soul of Thai Cookingp. 31
Coconut: The Spirit of Thai Cookingp. 65
The Big Four Seasonings: The Essence of Thai Cookingp. 81
The Thai Philosophy of Foodp. 121
Chile Water: The Crown Jewelp. 179
Thai Curry: The Signature Dishp. 201
The Secret of Thai Saladsp. 235
Noodles: A Thai Blessingp. 273
Mail-Order Sourcesp. 313
Resourcesp. 314
Indexp. 315