Book review: Kin Thai

By Joe Lutrario contact

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Kin Thai book review John Chantarasak AngloThai

Related tags: John Chantarasak, Kin Thai, AngloThai, MJMK restaurants, Thai cuisine

John Chantarasak debut cookbook is based around the same concept as his successful AngloThai pop-up, with British ingredients standing in for Thai ones in some cases.

There is no shortage of great Thai cookbooks - Thai Food by David Thompson and Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok books instantly spring to mind - but they tend to be rigorous in their approach to ingredients, often insisting on fresh produce that’s hard to track down outside of South East Asia. 

Translating as ‘eat Thai’, Kin Thai is the debut cookbook from John Chantarasak and is - broadly, at least - based around the same concept as his successful AngloThai pop-up of the same name, with British ingredients standing in for Thai ones in many cases. 

“Thai food does not have to be made solely with Thai ingredients,” says Chantarasak, whose CV includes stints with David Thompson in Bangkok and London new wave Thai restaurant Som Saa. “Explore Thai flavours and then think about what local British produce you have available to you that would work well as a substitute.”  

While nearly every ingredient in the book is widely available, Kin Thai does not pull any punches. Both the flavours and the recipes are authentically Thai in spirit with Chantarasak striking a balance between obvious and lesser known dishes throughout the 80-odd recipes in the book.

Thai classics include pad Thai; massaman curry; pad grapao neua (sir-fried beef with holy basil); and a killer recipe for grilled coriander and garlic chicken. More creative dishes, meanwhile, include whitebait in fish sauce caramel; roast celeriac curry with whole Makrut lime; and tumeric and partridge soup.

But the dish that is perhaps the most emblematic of Chantarasak approach is som tang ‘farang’, a take on the famed salad of shredded-then-pounded green papaya seasoned with a number of key Thai flavourings including tamarind, palm sugar and dried shrimp. Kin Thai’s version subs in celeriac, white cabbage and carrot for the tropical fruit. 

As with AngloThai itself, Kin Thai strikes a good balance between practicality and authenticity. It also whets the appetite for Chantarasak and his wife Desiree’s MJMK-backed debut bricks-and-mortar site, which is expected to open soon.  

Hardie Grant, £22


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