New Thai Food

Many people have eaten at Martin Boetz's Longrain Restaurant in Sydney or, more recently, in Melbourne. Over the past twenty years he has become acclaimed as one of the foremost chefs cooking Thai cuisine in Australia. His foundation in the complex branch of cooking is strong. He was mentored by world-acclaimed chef David Thompson in his earlier days in Sydney. Thompson's Thai restaurant in Bangkok, Nahm, was recently voted No 1 in Asia's Fifty Top Restaurants.

But back to Boetz. What is a good German boy doing, cooking this sort of food? In Boetz's own words in the introduction to this book: '(Thai cuisine) is more than a confusion of West meets East'. Perhaps more than any other cuisine in the world Thai food has a more precise and exact flavour balance and this is what Boetz likes.

'I can imagine the finished dish even as I buy the ingredients at the market,' he says. 'Other people play golf or paint; balancing flavours is my creative pursuit.'

The amazing thing about this book is that the hard part of achieving that crucial balamce has all been done for readers and home cooks. Admitting he is terrible at writing things down so this has been a challenge for him to recreate the recipes for the public.

With the help of the beautiful photography of Jeremy Simons, the book reads like an illustrated Thai menu, presenting those wonderful dishes we all love - and many that we first tasted in one of the Longrain restaurants.

So you will find everything from betel leaves with a spicy trout topping to tea-smoked oysters, sour orange curry, roasted baby snapper with yellow bean soy dressing, to a sticky finish with mango pudding and fresh coconut. Be honest! Is your mouth already watering?

Because so much of the success of any Thai meal depends so much on the little extras, the base ingredients, the side dishes, maybe you should begin at the end of this book as it is here that Boetz shares his core recipes for chilli jams, chilli or soy dressings, pickles, coconut cream and curry powder, as well as a full spectrum of curry pastes. There are others, but we shouldn't spoil it, except to say the glossary is invaluable.

No matter how much you think you know about Thai cusine, it's an even bet that Chef Martin Boetz knows more!

 

New Thai Food, recipes for the home, by Martin Boetz, published by Hardie Grant Books, 2014, hardcover, rrp A$39.95. ISBN: 978 1 74270 820 1

 

(reviewed by Sally Hammmond)

 

 

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