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Podcast Episode 12: Talking Thai with Nancie McDermott

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Nancie McDermott joins us for this episode of The Fine Cooking Podcast, where we discuss how she became a Thai food expert. Plus, she shares who she believes is at the forefront of Thai cooking in the U.S. Our editors also teach you how not to be afraid of artichokes, how to speed up caramelizing onions, and more!

What We’re Cooking Now

Artichokes are one of the most feared and misunderstood vegetables out there.

Nancy loves to grill artichokes to give them smoky flavor and charred texture. But you do need to trim and steam them first. Then she adds them to a marinade of citrus, oil, and herbs, and then grills them to char the outsides.

Chris loves spinach-artichoke dip, but if you’ve never made it from scratch with fresh artichokes, you’ll be blown away. He’s especially keen to try it as a pasta sauce this spring.

Watch our video on how to trim artichokes for steaming or other cooking. And see some of Cara Mangini’s favorite ways to use them, like steamed artichokes with orange tarragon dip or roasted baby artichoke white bean panzanella.

Kathy is a big fan of baby artichokes because you don’t have to worry about removing the choke. She loves to prepare these artichokes barigoule that she learned from a chef on Moveable Feast.

Thai Food with Nancie McDermott

Nancie McDermott is a cookbook author and cooking teacher fascinated by the people, stories, and places behind the food. A North Carolina native and graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, she loves exploring the history, culture, and distinctions within the regional cuisines of the American South. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, she also focuses on the cooking of Thailand and the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia. Nominated for a James Beard Award in Journalism, Nancie writes for newspapers and magazines, publishes a food and travel blog, and teaches cooking classes around the country. Her online video cooking classes are featured on bluprint.com. The author of 14 cookbooks, Nancie is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Les Dames d’Escoffier, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, the Association of Food Journalists, and the Southern Foodways Alliance. She lives with her family in Chapel Hill NC. Her website is www.nanciemcdermott.com

Nancie was first sent to Thailand on a Peace Corps mission, where she taught ESL, first to middle schoolers in the northeast Isaan region and then to college students in Bangkok. She did not learn to cook Thai food in Thailand because she was having such a good time eating it. It was only once she returned to North Carolina and missed the food that she started trying to figure out how to cook it herself.

One of the first things she learned to create was Thom Ka Gai, achicken, coconut soup with galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass, and chiles.

Nancie’s other articles for Fine Cooking include one on the fresh seafood salad known as Yum Talay and also one on making your own curry paste and then using it in several quick curries.

Learn more about (and buy online) some of the Thai pantry essentials that Nancie stocks:


Fish sauce

Palm sugar



Fresh turmeric

Nancie mentions that there are three Thai women at the forefront of the current Thai culinary boom in the US. She highly recommends their books, blogs, and restaurants:

Pim Techamuanvivit, of Chez Pim fame, who runs Kin Khao in San Francisco. She is now the head chef at a restaurant Nahm in Bangkok, so she divides her time between the two. She’s opening two more restaurants in SF area this year.

Hong Thaimee, NYC-based chef and author of True Thai.

Leela Punyaratabandhu of the SheSimmers blog, and author of Simple Thai Food and Bangkok.


Diana discusses the three most essential kitchen knives, but don’t forget that kitchen shears are a close 4th. The kind with blades that come apart for cleaning can also be used individually as paring knives.  She also loves her ceramic knife, especially for slicing tomatoes—it’s only about 6 inches long.


Nancie’s cookbooks featuring Thai cuisine:

Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes

Chronicle Books, 2004

Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking: 125 Real Thai Recipes
Robert Rose Inc., 2015

Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking

Chronicle Books, 1992

Nancie’s online video cooking classes on Bluprint Class:

Bluprint is an online DIY/craft and creativity resource, with video classes on everything from quilting and photography to woodworking and (best of all) FOOD!

I have two cooking classes available, which people can purchase outright, or enjoy as part of Bluprint’s monthly subscription to all their content plans. Details here:

Two Classes:

Everyday Thai Cooking

Classic Pies Made Easy




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