cover image The Vegetarian Table: Thailand

The Vegetarian Table: Thailand

Chronicle Books, Jacki Passmore. Chronicle Books, $24.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1214-6

Anyone who cooks for vegetarians and ominovores can sympathize with William Ralph Inge: ""It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion."" With Thai cuisine, skipping meat doesn't feel like a compromise; one can make spicy flavorful dishes for the sheep, and the wolf won't know the difference. Passmore (Fire and Spice) has chosen well, collecting recipes that aren't difficult or weighed down with an ominous list of ingredients. In each section, Passmore manages to give a sense of the full range of Thai cooking, from the expected curry paste, ginger, coconut flavor of Mushrooms in Coconut Soup with Crisp Noodle Croutons to the less expected Mussaman Curry of Potato and Pumpkin with Peanuts (and cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, tamarind) and Clay Pot of Fried Tofu and Vegetables in Brown Sauce. The first chapter includes a fairly complete glossary of ingredients. Although the difference between coconut cream (made from the first extraction of coconut meat) and the ubiquitous sugary cream of coconut used for pina coladas is not clarified, Passmore does recognize that many Thai ingredients are not universally available. The suggested substitutions (e.g., tapioca for sago; grapefruit instead of pomelos; lime zest for kaffir lime leaves; chayote for Chinese melon) will help bring the delights of Thai cuisine to many vegetarian tables. Photographs by Steven Rothfeld. (Oct.)