By Andy Ricker with JJ Goode
Ten Speed Press, $35
In his debut cookbook, Andy Ricker, who owns some of the best Thai food joints in America, wants to make sure you understand something: His cooking does not produce the Thai food you might expect if you’re a fan of Americanized Thai with its profusion of colorful coconut-milk curries and sweet-tart sauces. Not that there’s anything wrong with all that. It’s just not what Pok Pok restaurant, which started in Portland, Oregon, and is now in New York City, too, is all about. Ricker’s mission is to faithfully recreate the amazing foods he devoured while living in Thailand. And that’s no small task. Dishes like Sour Curry with Shrimp (Kaeng Som Kung) defy expectations (this curry is tangy, spicy, salty, and not sweet or rich), and to make it you’ll need to hunt down ingredients like dried puya chiles, Asian shallots, and Thai shrimp paste. But not to worry-Ricker’s enthusiasm is so infectious that you’ll either a) hunker down in an armchair and salivate your way through his book, which is also filled with colorful essays on his travels and experiences, or b) jump online, order what you need, and embark on culinary adventures of your own. Thanks to meticulous testing, readers can make and serve food that, as Ricker puts it, “you’d be hard-pressed to fi nd outside of Southeast Asia.”
Whole Roasted Young Chicken (Kai Yaang) (page 135) Brined Cornish hens are stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, and cilantro and basted with a honey-garlic-scallion oil. The result is a juicy, aromatic, flavorful chicken with delightfully crispy skin.
Cucumber Relish (Ajaat) (page 283) This spicy-sour-sweet relish is crunchy and refreshing, and just the thing to perk up your palate.
Photos by Austin Bush © 2013