Noodlies, Sydney food blog contributor, Evie Chataway, gets a sneak peak at Martin Boetz’s latest cookbook offering, and is wowed by the knowledge he shares.
I love cookbooks. Just as some people flick through coffee table books of art, I can happily while away an afternoon with a pot of tea and a pile of my favourite culinary writings and recipes. So when the chance came along to get a sneak peak of a new book by Martin Boetz New Thai Food – Recipes for Home, I was very excited.
this book highlights how much work and craftsmanship goes into a kitchen such as Longrain’s
I wasn’t let down, it is a beautiful book, full of luscious photography and interesting recipes. It is written by chef Martin Boetz (image below, source: facebook), who trained under David Thompson at Sydney’s Darley Street Thai, and is one of the founding owners and head chef of the iconic Longrain in Sydney and Melbourne. If anyone is going to know about innovative Thai cooking, then it’s him.
Initially, I was excited to see if with the expertise shared in this book whether I would be able to cook a Longrain menu for four which would be a fraction of the cost of going to the restaurant. But in truth this is not what this book is about. In fact this book highlights how much work and craftsmanship goes into a kitchen such as Longrain’s, and shows that they are masters at it. But while you might not be creating a carbon copy of a Longrain dining experience, the knowledge Boetz shares is incredibly generous. Rather than jealously guarding his know-how, he seems happy to share his expertise in order to inspire others.
This book not only contains delectable recipes, but a glossary of ingredients, and a section on how to make the basics including curry pastes, coconut cream, and chilli jam. These are at the back of the book, as custom dictates, but for me, a fair novice to Thai cooking, it was probably one of the most important and educational sections of reading.
For the main, the ingredients required for most of the recipes won’t be everyday items you have in your cupboard. You’ll need to head down to the Asian supermarket instead, so make sure you take your shopping list and tick things off as you go along, as if you forget something you’re probably not going to be able to pick it up at your local IGA.
When it came to selecting a recipe to try out I was spoilt for choice, there is simply so much in this book I wanted to cook. My decision was made by the unseasonably hot weather we enjoyed earlier this week, when I opted for crisp duck and lychee salad. This was an easy recipe in comparison to others in the books which needed much more preparation. There were a fair few ingredients I had to go out specifically to buy, including a store-bought barbecued duck. The book said I could use it so it wasn’t cheating!
If you were having friends over, this recipe is a great option for a starter as you could pretty much prep everything in advance, then put it together at the last minute. The work that went into it was pretty simple, remove the meat from the duck, chop vegetables, and then mix up the dressing (which I always do in a jam jar, then if there is any left over it’s easy to store in the fridge for another time.). Put all the elements together and voila, you have your finished dish. I served mine on a large serving platter to be eaten family style, but it would also look very enticing served as delicate individual portions.
For this occasion the crispy duck and lychee salad was a stand-alone main course with a side of steamed jasmine rice. It was fresh and light, and ideal for what was an unseasonably hot and sticky day in Sydney. It left you feeling satisfied but without that over indulged food hangover.
Another recipe which caught my eye is the steamed pipi salad with basil and chilli. The author flags this up as a dish which can be pre-prepared and would be an ideal snack dish served with cold beers on the beach. Consisting of pipis (or clams), green chilli nahm jim, herbs, lemongrass and chillies, this would definitely be a wow picnic dish.
This book contains many dishes you’d expect, including various curries and stir fries, but also has some great ideas for desserts. Banana and lime sorbet, black sticky rice with custard apple cream, and mango pudding with fresh coconut are all ones I plan to try in the near future.
The recipes in this book are for the enthusiastic cook and in my opinion are not for a beginner, but then this book is not intended to be an introduction to cookery. For passionate cooks, keen to get some insider knowledge from a legend like Martin Boetz, and learn about ingredients they might not be familiar with, it is a must. With Christmas not far around the corner (what can I say, I start planning early), it would be a great gift idea.
New Thai Food – Recipes for Home by Martin Boetz is published by Hardie Grant and available now in all good bookshops for $39.95.
Evie received her copy of ‘New Thai Food’ courtesy of Hardie Grant Books.