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COTM April 2014 Announcement Thread: Congratulations Pok Pok!

The winner of this round of voting for the Cookbook of the Month this April 2014 is Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker.

I'm sure we are all very excited to see what secrets of Thai cuisine we will glean from this great book.

Please feel free to use this thread to discuss the upcoming COTM while we wait for April to begin.

If you are interested in viewing the threads that got us here please see the:

Nominations Thread

Voting Thread

Also, courtesy of EYB and a little searching of the web I have found the below online recipes for those who would like to cook along from the web.

Palm Sugar Simple Syrup

Sweet Chile Dipping Sauce

Tamarind Dipping Sauce

Spicy, Tart Dipping Sauce for Seafood

Vinegar Soaked Chiles

Grilled Salt Crusted Fish

Stir Fried Brussels Sprouts

Grilled Pork Neck with Spicy Dipping Sauce and Iced Greens

Fried Shallots and Shallot Oil

Homemade Shrimp Paste

Tamarind Water

Thai Fruit Salad

Thai Cucumber Salad

Fried Egg Salad

Isaan Style Forest Mushrooom Salad

Thai Style Pork Ribs

Whole Roasted Young Chicken

Green Curry with Fish Balls and Eggplant

Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Pork, Chinese Broccoli and Soy Sauce

Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp, Tofu and Peanuts

Sticky Rice with Mango and Salty Sweet Coconut Cream

Toasted Chile Powder

Sticky Rice

Steamed Whole Fish with Lime and Chiles

Ike’s Fish Sauce Wings

Boat Noodles

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  1. Great job - and lots of links too! I may have a few extra links (I did some searching too, since I don't have the book). If I find that any of the ones I have aren't already here, I'll post them. But again, great job - thank you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LulusMom

      Thanks LLM. I looked through the first 4 or 5 google pages and started finding either repeats or recipes that didn't seem to be in the book, so I decided to call it a day. That said, I am sure there are more out there. Good luck with the search and glad to see you will be joining us sans the book.

    2. Woohoo! Thank you for your hard work delys!

      Also helpful.

      Mel's "Cooking from Pok Pok" thread

      Also, some helpful links from that thread:
      Debunking Thai Food Myths Ricker interview from Serious Eats:

      Pok Pok Cooking Kits:

      And, courtesy of ellabee:
      Serious Eats goes shopping in Queens with Andy Ricker for ingredients:

      How to use a splatter screen to cook perfect sticky rice (particularly apt because the slide show above features the space-hog traditional rig Ricker says you have to use):

      Courtesy of quianning, for comparing the various names and spellings for herbs and spices within and across languages:

      2 Replies
        1. I did a search for Pok Pok recipes a few days ago and came up with quite a few. Here are the ones that are not listed above (it is possible that these are not in the book but showed up in the search - I apologize if that is the case):

          long bean cucumber and tomato salad:

          chicken legs with noodle and broth:

          coconut rice:

          spicy green papaya salad:

          grilled quick brined jumbo shrimp:

          4 Replies
          1. re: LulusMom

            Those do look super tasty and came up in my search but when I compared against EYB they didn't seem to be in the book. I am wondering if they are just variations of recipes in the book with different names.

            1. re: delys77

              Oh oops! I'm sorry. As I said, without the book I was just sort of counting on them being from it, since the search was for Pok Pok recipes. Drats.

              I'm going to do my best to cook a few things, but April is turning out to be a very busy month, and my husband will be away. Always a bit tougher to cook when I'm chauffering Lulu to and from school each day (50 minute round trip each way).

              1. re: LulusMom

                Wow that is quite the drive.

                No worries on the links, I am sure they will be of help, plus I still think some of them might be in the book but are just masquerading under a different name.

                1. re: delys77

                  Yes, a ridiculous drive and I have no one but myself to blame. Normally not a problem when LulusDad is in town as he works very near her school. But when he's away - PITA.

                  I hope you are right about the links.

          2. Oh, that recipe for Boat Noodles is seductively calling me.

            I found a few more recipe links, though I'm not sure if they are all in the cookbook, or only served at the restro:

            Som Tam http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/po...

            Southern Thai-Style Fried Prawns: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/sout...

            Spicy Lime Leaf Beer Nuts: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sp...

            Khao Soi: http://www.austinbushphotography.com/...

            Burmese Pork Belly Curry- Kaeng Hung Leh :http://www.kinfolk.com/recipe-kaeng-h...

            Laap Meuang-Northern Thai Minced Pork Salad: http://www.austinbushphotography.com/...

            Kuaytiaw Khua Kai/Stir-Fried Noodles with Chicken, Egg and Cuttlefish on Lettuce: http://www.austinbushphotography.com/...

            1. I have a couple of questions for those of you familiar with this book. I don't own it (yet) and of course I could be convinced to order it. I'm going to be away for half of April and super busy when I return. So:

              - does the book have weeknight-friendly recipes? Something I could throw together pretty quickly after work?

              - As luck would have it, I'll be in Asia when I'm away. Though I'll be in China vs Thailand, I'd still be interested to know if anyone has recommendations for unique ingredients or kitchen tools that I should pick up while I'm there that might make for a better COTM experience with the recipes in this book in particular or, even other cookbooks?

              7 Replies
              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                "Familiar" is probably a stretch, but I have read through it, and to be honest, I'm finding it intimidating in the sense that many--probably, most--of the recipes require various sauces or condiments that have to be made, not to mention a lot of pantry prep. (I'm sure you've got access to great Asian markets in Toronto). Not too many look like "weeknight-friendly" meals, but MelMM has listed some here:


                That thread is awfully inspiring, though, so I'm going to take a deep breath, try to do some pre-planning and pre-prepping, make a run to our Asian market, and jump in. The dishes do look amazing.

                FWIW, I felt the same intimidation about "Burma" and ended up loving it.

                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  I feel exactly the way you do ncw. Mel's thread has gone a lot of the way toward making me think I can do it, and making me want to. But wow, it is a bit intimidating. I feel like I have to take a deep breath and just jump on in.

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    I was also feeling very intimidated by Thai cooking, but now with a Thai cookbook as the next COTM, I have resolved to overcome my fears. A big thanks to qianning for starting and contributing to the David Thompson thread and MeIMM for trailblazing through Pok Pok.

                    As a neophyte to Thai cooking, I have found comfort in the One-Plate Meal chapter of Pok Pok. So far I have tried the Stir-fried Chicken with Hot Basil (Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao) and Stir-Fried Noodles with Pork, Chinese Broccoli and Soy Sauce (Phat Si Ew). Both are quick stir-fries. I am ready for more after a couple successful recipes.

                    The Fried Rice, Phat Thai, Shrimp and Glass Noodles Baked in a Clay Pot, Stir-Fried Thai Rice Noodles and Broken Crepe with Mussels are on my list, and most of these I plan to tackle during the work week. There are a couple of steamed fish recipes from the fish section that look quite doable too, as well as a number of recipes in the salad section.

                    I agree with nomadchowwoman and LulusMom in that pre-planning, pre-prepping and jumping on in will be keys to a successful month.

                    1. re: BigSal

                      Thanks. I needed that extra little boost. I'll have to check out qianning's thread--but I'm do so with trepidation as I'm afraid I'll end up buying yet another cookbook!

                      1. re: BigSal

                        Thanks so much for your post BigSal, that's very helpful.

                      2. re: nomadchowwoman

                        Thanks so much ncw, that's very helpful. I think I'll work from the online recipes if I'm able to find some time to cook when I return Thanks for the link to Mel's thread....the dishes sure look and sound enticing!

                      3. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Hi BC, the ingredients and kitchen tools seem to be pretty specific to thailand as opposed to china ... not sure you will find anything on your travels that will help with this book! I think in terms of cooking out of Pok Pok you are best off visiting a local Asian (preferably Thai) grocery or ordering online.

                      4. Dipping my toe back in the water after three weeks in Singapore and Malaysia. The food has been so amazing I'll definitely be craving some Asian flavours when I get back to London on Monday (sob). Thanks for the links.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greedygirl

                          I've been wondering why we hadn't heard a peep from you. Glad to hear it was because of such a wonderful trip.

                        2. Puya chillis.....this one's got me stumped.

                          Those of you who are more familiar with them, can you give me an idea what I'm going for in flavor, heat intensity, texture? Mexican ingredients are a hard get around here. Asian (Lao, Cambodian, Chinese. Korean or Indian) is the easiest for me; or if not Central American (Ecuadoran, Guatemalan, or Brazilian) would be the next easiest to find.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: qianning

                            I've never had a puya chile, but according to this website (http://www.foodsubs.com/Chiledry.html) it has a similar fruitiness to a guajillo, which should be pretty easy to locate in any case.

                            1. re: Allegra_K

                              Thanks....I think I have some guajillo's left over from Rick Bayless month....failing that I'll just use some combination of Kashmir (for the fruitiness) and Facing Heaven (for a little heat).

                            2. re: qianning

                              Is it a sub for an Asian chilli? I''d have far more luck finding Asian chillis tbh than Mexican.

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                In the book, I think he mentions the reason for the puya chili (and I do think he might have said the flavor was similar to something in Thailand). However, I returned the book to the library today (you chowhound in Fairfax County, VA who have it on reserve should be getting it soon) and have to wait until the copy I ordered from Amazon arrives to look it up.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  The puya chile is a sub for phrik kaeng, a dried chile used in Thailand. The puya is similar to a guajillo, but thinner and shorter, so if you use guajillos, you can use fewer. I'd estimate 1 guajillo would be equivalent to 2 puyas.

                                  1. re: MelMM

                                    Finally found a picture of a puya, for those who are looking: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/hot-pe...

                                    But still not quite sure of the heat intensity/flavor profile.
                                    Would like to know how it compares to a long Phrik Haeng, which I have a whole bag of in my kitchen.

                                    1. re: qianning

                                      Puya are 5000-8000 scoville units. Guajillo are about half that. Guajillos weigh three times as much as puyas.

                                      Thai prik kee nu chillies are 100000-250000 scoville units. Prik Haeng are dried prik kee nu chilies - presumably they are hotter because peppers get hotter as they dry. So, they're way hotter than puyas or guajillos. I'd have to look back at pok pok, but if I remember correctly Ricker didn't say which thai chili he was trying to match - sounded like one not available here so he didn't bother to mention the name (probably doesn't even have an english name).

                                      1. re: ARenko

                                        Actually he says he's trying to replace "Phrik Kaeng", i.e. "Curry Chilies", which I'd guess is whatever dried chili is commonly used in Chiang Mai/North Thailand in soups/curries. But as you point out, probably not available here.

                                        I appreciate the info on the Puya scoville rating, which gives me a better sense of what to use..

                                        I think most Phrik Haeng that I can get here are actually dried Phrik Kee Fa, not nearly as hot as the dried bird's eye (phrik kee nuu).

                                        1. re: qianning

                                          I guess prik haeng can be made from different chillies. I wonder if there are separate names. I though prik kee nu based on the below from http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/cp_...

                                          "Prik Haeng: Small, very hot dried red chilis made from Prik ki nu, Prik Kariang or similar. Thai recipes using them often end in 'Prik Haeng'. Those in the photo I dried myself, as I do whenever one of the local markets has a batch of really fine bright red Thai chilis. Very hot, but not quite as hot as fresh chilis of the same type"

                                          ETA the quotation marks.

                                          1. re: ARenko

                                            Great link. Do you grow all of these? Wow!

                                            The dried Thai origin chillies I can get here are definitely long-ish, 3-5 inches, and no where near as hot as the bird's eye (mostly get those fresh here, green or red), and a bit more tapered/thinner and darker than the phrik Haeng in your photo.

                                            That said the bags of the dried Thai origin chillies are definitely hotter than the dried generic-Indian or Facing Heaven or the Tien Tsin Chinese chillies that I get here.

                                            1. re: qianning

                                              Sorry to confuse - I should've put quotes around the bottom portion in my previous message. I quoted that from the website, which is not mine. I've grown prik kee nu before, but that's about it as far as peppers go.

                                        2. re: ARenko

                                          Having made some of the pastes in the book, I think I can safely say that the different heat level of the guajillo and puya chiles will not matter in this case. The puyas are not adding any significant amount of heat to the paste, as there are also fresh Thai chiles included that are much hotter. The amount of heat ends up being determined by the fresh Thai chiles.

                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            Thanks, this is helpful. Would you substitute guajillos one-for-one for puyas? Or would you use a different ratio given that guajillos are much bigger than puyas?

                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                              I would probably use half as many guajillos.

                                2. Stir Fried Chicken and Hot Basil
                                  is available as a pdf download on Amazon Pok Pok page (U.S. site)


                                  This one is an easy weeknight meal.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: stockholm28

                                    Thanks very much stockholm28, it's great to discover a weeknight dish.

                                  2. Yay! I am so happy that Pok Pok won. For whatever reason, this book has totally clicked with me and I have made several recipes already, including some repeats that are sure to become family favorites. My husband has dubbed the last few weeks in our house a "thai explosion" (and he is not complaining).

                                    To be honest, I have been subbing and improvising wildly, but I've found some of the recipes to be weeknight doable-- particularly on the second time around. Others are more weekend projects, but nothing has been too much so far. Also, not everything is super hot, which is good since my kids will not do heat. In fact, the sweet flavors and rice based dishes have really appealed to my kids so far, which is a bonus.

                                    Excited for April to start....

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                      I'm eager to hear about what people sub for some of the harder to find ingredients. I haven't been able to track down nam plaa raa yet, for example - wondering how critical it is.

                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                        I'm also glad it won and determined to try at least a few things. I have to say the tone of the book puts me off a bit as AR puts what I deem to be unreasonable expectations on home cooks, e.g., cooking for a family dinner one portion at a time. But your reports made me feel that I can do it! If you haven't yet posted your subs, improvisations and shortcuts, please do as I aim to follow in your footsteps!

                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                          Yes, the whole cooking one portion at a time thing annoys me too, but I have just disregarded it for the most part. I would be shocked if working Thai mom's cook for their families 1 portion at a time. I do realize to do a good stir fry, you have to have high heat which you can't do if you're crowding the pan. For the most part, I've been able to compromise and cook our dinner for 5 (3 kids and 2 adults) in 2 batches. It works out okay since the kids can't take the heat anyway so I make theirs without the chilis (I'm sure Ricker would gasp at that as well) and then do a second double batch for my husband and me.

                                          In terms of subs-- I've used Chinese light soy sauce for Thai thin soy, but I actually just bought the Thai thin soy sauce today at the Asian Market, so I'll be able to do a taste test. I've also used Thai basil for hot basil. I had a half full bottle of Vietnamese fish sauce for Thai fish sauce (Although again, I just bought Thai fish sauce today at the market, so again taste test in the future). I've subbed green beans for long beans and in fact have ended up making the Stir fried chicken with hot basil with chopped baby broccoli instead of long beans and that works too.

                                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                                            Thanks Greeneggsnham

                                            I am curious to hear how your taste test goes as I also have Chinese Light Soy and Vietnamese fish sauce in my pantry, and I had planned to use those.

                                            1. re: delys77

                                              I certainly plan to use what I have. I'm having a hard time thinking of a place that would stock Thai ingredients near me (greeneggs, I'm guessing you went to Super Wok?).

                                            2. re: greeneggsnham

                                              Why would you be shocked if working thai moms cooked 1 portion at a time? Many dishes are quick cooking. Also thais are fine to eat food at room temp, so no big deal if the first meal sits while the next four are cooked.

                                              That said, I wonder how many working thai moms actually cook.

                                              1. re: ARenko

                                                @LLM, I found Thai soy sauces as well as fresh galangal and tumeric (which I didn't buy at the time) at Grand Asia Market. I also found a number of ingredients at Today Asia Market (also in Cary) which is closer to my house and generally less crowded and congested. I was just there today to stock up on Asian shallots and produce and also got the Thai thin soy sauce, and Thai fist sauce. I saw dried shrimp as well as fresh rice noodles, fresh jackfruit, green papaya etc. No Asian limes and no hot basil, but a pretty good selection of both fresh and pantry items.

                                                @ARenko I guess it just seems crazy to me to cook 5 separate portions. Even quick cooking dishes can bog you down if you have to repeat everything 5 times. But then again, maybe I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the notion... to each his or her own... but I would rather push the limits of my heat source and get it done in 2 batches.

                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                  I would tend to agree, I understand it may be difficult to get that breath of a wok with several portions in one wok, but I won't be cooking any less than at least two portions at a time.

                                                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                    (smacking head) - Grand Asia is what I meant. I had Super Wok on the brain because I was supposed to have lunch with a friend there yesterday. But generally I consider it too far except on special occasions. Good to know, though, that some of this stuff is available at GAM. I wonder if the place in Durham that used to be a Best Buy has any of this stuff. That is on the way to L's school. Hmmm.

                                          2. Am debating whether to buy this book as I already have a couple of other Thai books (including David Thompson's Thai Food on long term loan from a friend). Any views from those who own both?

                                            1. I just made a little batch of the palm sugar simple syrup. The palm sugar is yummy, kind of like maple sugar, but at the end of the day I think you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference if you used brown sugar instead. Or really any kind of raw/unrefined sugar should be fine.

                                              1. Hi all, I've decided to cook from the ego ok version of Pok Pok. Just wondering if anyone who had the physical book would be kind enough to share the chapter page numbers with me.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: delys77

                                                  Khao (Rice) p. 29-33
                                                  Som Tam (Papaya salad and family) p. 34-47
                                                  Yam (Thai "salads") p. 48-71
                                                  Plaa (Fish) p. 72-87
                                                  Phat (Stir-fries) p. 88-103
                                                  Laap (Thai minced-meat salads) p. 104-121
                                                  Kong Yaang (Grilled foods) p. 122-145
                                                  Kaeng, Tom, & Co. (Curied and soups) p. 146-171
                                                  Naam Phrik (Chile dips) p. 172-181
                                                  Aahaan Jaan Diaw (The one-plate meal) p. 182-239
                                                  Aahaang Farang (Foreign food) p. 240-251
                                                  Khong Waan (Sweets) p. 252-266
                                                  Sundry Items (Stock, Condiments,and Pantry Staples) p. 267-287

                                                  1. re: delys77

                                                    Also, the chapter names/table of contents is available on the Amazon "Look Inside" feature. The TOC has recipe names listed out if you need to refer back to sub-headings or or recipe names to decide how to group threads.

                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                      Oh that's great to know Qianning

                                                    2. re: delys77

                                                      Oops sorry I meant ebook, but looks like you guys figured it out anyway.

                                                    3. I found a couple more recipe links (sorry if there's any duplications. I have to return my library e-book soon and there are a few recipes on my list still to make).

                                                      Stir-Fried Chicken with Hot Basil

                                                      Papaya Salad with Coconut Rice and Sweet Pork