Crying Tiger Book Review
Learn easy Thai recipes with cooking instructor, cookbook author and restaurateur Supatra Khommuangpak Johnson. Supatra is the author of Crying Tiger: Recipes from the Heart and the owner of Supatra's Thai Cuisine in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Crying Tiger - Home Cooking from Thailand by Phyllis Louise Harris
Supatra Khommuangpak Johnson is one of those people who likes to share her love of cooking and Thai food with just about everyone. After moving here from Thailand in 1989 she spent eight years at the Sawatdee Thai Restaurant in St. Paul, then opened Jasmine Market in Burnsville. For several years she held Thai cooking classes and demonstrations at the market and today she teaches at venues throughout the area. Now she has a new cookbook filled with many of the recipes from her classes and food from her childhood.
"My goal in writing this book was to share some of my favorite Thai recipes, but also to share a little bit of information about Thai culture and customs", says Johnson in the preface to Crying Tiger: Thai Recipes from the Heart. To make this a whole family project, the book's photos are by Johnson's husband Randall and her son Tom has his own special section of cooking for kids. Many of the book's recipes were Thai family traditions and not recorded until now. Some have become favorites of her students.
Pumpkin Coconut Soup (Fak Tong Gang Ka Ti) is one of those memorable dishes that Johnson taught at Jasmine Market. Seasoned with lemon grass, lime leaves, chilies, lemon basil and other flavors, this soup is so delicate you can easily taste each ingredient, yet they combine into a silky, smooth blend.
Noodle Soup with Beef (Kuay-tiaw Nua) is another favorite from Johnson's classes. Actually a street food of Thailand, the soup is available from vendors every day of the week. It has a robust flavor filled with noodles, bean sprouts, and multiple flavorings with fresh ingredients such as mint, cilantro, basil and lettuce.
While some Thai dishes have complex seasonings and multiple cooking steps, some are very simple and easy to cook. Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang) is one of the easiest.
"The scent of Gai Yang being grilled over charcoal wafts through many cities in Isaan (Northeast Thailand)," writes Johnson. "Restaurants selling Gai Yang always serve it with Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad) and Kao Niaw (sticky rice), in much the same way that hamburgers are always served with French fries in America."
Here chicken is marinated in an oyster sauce, soy sauce, lemon grass, and garlic blend, grilled over charcoal and served.
Crying Tiger is named after a traditional Thai dish of the same name featuring charcoal grilled beef. The recipe is included along with 100 more from soup to dessert.
Johnson's section on Thai cooking for kids was inspired by her son Tom, who has been cooking since he was seven. The section begins with the first dish he cooked, Tommy's Scrambled Eggs with Green Onion.
Johnson opens the book with a section on typical Thai ingredients and equipment featuring photos and descriptions. It is a handy reference for anyone confused by the difference between things such as ginger and galanga, yu choy and mustard green, or holy basil and Thai basil.
Johnson also offers a website filled with information about Thai cooking and her class schedule at www.supatra.com.
Phyllis Louise Harris is the food editor of Asian Pages newspaper. She is also a cookbook author and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI's programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the web site.
Buy Supatra's easy Thai recipes cookbook, Crying Tiger, Thai Recipes from the Heart and start cooking Thai food today!
Visit Supatra's website for her Thai cooking class schedule in the Minneapolis area.
Recipes from this book: Thai Chicken with Lemon Grass and Supatra's Thai BBQ Chicken