We are proud to announce to release of the 3rd Edition of May Kaidee's Thai Vegetarian and Vegan Cookbook. The release of this latest edition comes after the successs of the two previous editions which surpassed the sale of 30,000 copies. This most recent edition features new photography, additional information on May's story, Thailand and plant-based vegan cooking. Included are all the same great recipes from the earlier editions covering Powders, Pastes and Preparations, Appetizers, Soups and Salads, Curries, Main Dishes, Beverages and Desserts. Make your May Kaidee favorites from her restaurants in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and New York City including Pad Thai, Massaman Curry, Spring Rolls, Green Papaya Salad, Tom Yam soup, Pumpkin Hummus, Mango Shakes and of course May's fabulous Black Sticky Rice with Coconut Milk, Mango and Banana dessert.
Featuring Massaman curry on the front cover of the most recent edition, one our most popular curries at our restaruants in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and New York City. Massaman curry is a Thai dish with distinct influence from Indian cuisine. The origin of Massaman curry likely dates back to the 17th century when the old capital of Ayutthaya was the center of culture, politics and trading in Thailand, and a version of the curry was introduced to the society by Persian merchants. Over the years local variations were developed as the recipe spread throughout the country, leading up to the version we make today at our restaurants which is largely based on the original recipe dating back hundreds of years. Massaman curry uses a number of spices and herbs which are not typically used in other Thai curries such as turmeric, star anise, cloves and bay leaves. In addition, Massaman curry incorporates potato (which in the Thai language is literally referred to as a "foreign" vegetable) into the recipe, making for a warm, comforting and filling cosmopolitan dish.
On the back cover you'll notice May carrying traditional Thai baskets with a yoke (or balancing pole). The sight of someone using such an ancient traditional device in a modern city, partiularly in the west, elicits a range of reactions. Often people find it humorous to see such a display in an urban setting, but natural woven baskets are actually a technology that modern day society can learn from. Unlike most of their modern counterparts, these baskets do not harm the environment. Plastic bags and containers for example are now a reality of modern society but products that we know must be phased out of daily life in order to save our planet from degradation. Natural woven baskets made from bamboo on the other hand do no harm to the enviroment during every cycle of their development – from growing the material, to harvesting it, to weaving the baskets themselves, and then finally once they are discarded years later naturally intergated back into the ecosystem (and they typically last a long time since bamboo is naturally strong and resilient).
In both our cookbook and the hands-on training we offer in our cooking classes, our approach is to make the entry to Thai cooking comfortable for beginners. While some dishes such as the noodle dishes Pad Thai and Pad See U can be quite difficult to make well, many others are suited for beginners and allow for experimentation while one becomes acclimated to combining the many different spices and herbs used in Thai cuisine. Curries are a good example because of the flexible window of time available when cooking the dish. Curries can be cooked slower than stir fry dishes, giving more time for trial and error. Additionally, curries can be adjusted if the balance of spices and herbs is not correct at any point while making it, while a stir fry dish is normally completed within a few minutes and can't easily be adjusted if it's over spiced or too sweet or salty.
Regardless of one's experience and ability, our cookbook offers a range of different recipes that both allow for an easy entry to Thai cooking, as well as others which challenge those readers with established culinary experience.
Papaya salad ("Som Tam" in Thai), likely traces its origin to Laos and therefore it's not surprising that the best variations of the dish can be found in the Isaan region of Thailand which has the most Laotian influence of all the regions. Papaya salad is typically made by hand with a mortar and pestle. Since archaeologically unearthed mortar and pestles have been dated tens of thousands of years, it's possible that early variations of papaya salad date back that far as well.
The main ingredient of papaya salad is green papaya (which simply refers to unripened papaya) and is shredded into thin crispy ribbons which are then added to a dressing along with chunks of tomato and pounded in a clay mortar with a wooden pestle. In our version of the recipe we also add shredded carrot.
Tom Kha is a creamier version of our Tom Yam soup. The name refers to galangal which has a strong flavor presence in the dish. In addition to galangal, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves play an prominent role in the dish. Tom Kha has a bright melody of flavors, combing spicy, sour and sweet in a smooth broth. In our recipe we include chuncks of broccoli and cauliflower, slices of carrot, chopped tomato and onion as well as spring onion.
Not only does galangal (the Thai version of the word that the dish is named after) offer a refreshing sensation to the palate, the root is rich in several vitamins and minerals including iron, sodium, vitamins A and C, as well as anti-oxidants. Galangal is generally helpful to the stomach, aiding in digestion or reducing various types of discomfort when not feeling well. A wealth of information also supports the idea that galangal has anti-inflammatory properties.
Though worldwide Pad Thai is known as the most popular dish from Thailand, it is a relatively young recipe in the country's history. Like most Thai noodle dishes the fundamental techniques for preparation and cooking is influenced from Chinese cooking dating back thousands of years. Though like many Thai dishes an original approach created a dish that is distinctly different from its predecessors, unique, entirely Thai in style and flavor.
Pad Thai is known as a central Thai dish having been invented in central Thailand and is ubiquitous at Bangkok food carts and restaurants alike. We use cubes of tofu in our vegan Pad Thai recipe, as well as most of the ingredients found in the traditional recipe such as ground peanut, bean sprouts, chives and a touch of tamarind pulp. In our restaurants we like to add shredded cabbage to the dish in the final seconds before it's fully cooked.
Panang curry (also spelled phanang or phanaeng) is similar to red curry but sweeter, creamier and with kaffir lime leaves and different vegetables added. Also, our version departs from the traditional recipe in that we don't add ground peanuts to the dish and of course since it's a vegan recipe we use tofu instead of meat. Historical documentation places Panang curry as one of the younger curries in the timeline of Thai cuisine, with the earliest known mention of the dish in the late 19th century.
Different theories place Panang curry originating in either central Thailand or southern Thailand, with the name possibly having roots in the Khmer language.
In Thai the name literally translates to "sweet green curry" and that's exactly what it is – a slightly sweet curry made with green chili peppers and coconut milk. Green curry is also a young curry in the timeline of Thai cuisine, dating possibly only to the start of the 20th century. Though unique in its composition with an assortment of vegetables that create an ensemble of textures and taste. In our version of the dish we use both Thai eggplant and long purple eggplant (sometimes called Chinese eggplant). When available we also add pea egglants to the dish. It should be noted that eggplant in British English is referred to as aubergine. It is believed that eggplant originated in India, originally growing in the wild and then cultivated beginning in approximately 500 AD.
Despite being slightly over 100 years since the earliest known documentation of the recipe, green curry likely has direct links to the jungle curries of Northern Thailand, the first versions of which were likely invented thousands of years ago as indigenous groups began to experiment with combinations of fragrant, spicy ingredients. Long before the arrival of chili peppers in fact, which were incorporated into Thai cuisine shortly after being introduced to the region through the Columbian Exchange.
The version of green curry we typically make at our restaurants and teach in our cooking classes has a slightly different set of base ingredients when compared to a typical traditional recipe. We don't use white peppercorns in our recipe, and instead of galangal we use fingerroot (also called Chinese ginger or lesser galangal). Like the traditional recipe calls for, we add an abundance of Thai basil to the dish at the end of cooking process.
Making sticky rice begins with choosing the best type of rice, a type of Glutinous rice. Traditionally sticky rice is made in a bamboo steamer, though modern stainless steel steamers work nearly as well. Once the rice has been steamed, it can be made to have an fuller and richer taste by waming it in a pan with coconut milk. The coconut milk can also be sweetened first with a small amount of sugar or natural sweetner.