Cookbook 140: Thailand from the Source

I bought Lonely Planet’s, Thailand from the Source: Authentic recipes from the people that know them best, from Oxfam, thinking that it would be a great cookbook. And I was somewhat disappointed. My biggest problem is that there is not one vegetarian recipe. The index says there are, but all of them contain oyster and fish sauce, if not actual meat (bacon, chicken or minced prawns). I’m pretty sure, since I have been to many Thai restaurants in Australia, and since Thailand a country where many people practice Buddhism, that there are plenty of vegetarian recipes, but this book didn’t go looking for them. To me, that is a failure. The recipes I cooked were fine, nothing particularly special. Overall I give this 2 out of 5 stars.

Chicken green curry

Green chicken curry


  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves,torn
  • 300g skinless chicken breast or thigh pieces
  • 6 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 250ml water
  • 200g Thai (Asian) eggplant, halved, or one regular eggplant, chopped into cubes
  • small handful of basil leaves to garnish

For the curry paste:

  • 1 tsp chopped kaffir lime zest
  • thumb-sized piece galangal, roughly chopped
  • 5 – 10 small, fresh, green Thai chillies, chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small lemongrass talk, sliced


  1. Make the curry paste: In a mortar and pestle (or a food processor because that’s easier), pound/blend the lime zest and galangal until you have a rough paste. Add the chillies, shallots, garlic and lemongrass and pound/blend until you have a fine paste. Set aside.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat, add the coconut milk, the lime leaves and the curry paste. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring to combine, until the mixture is fragrant and slightly reduced. Add the chicken pieces, fish sauce and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Add the water and the eggplant, then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the eggplant is soft and the chicken is cooked.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the Thai basil leaves and transfer to a large bowl and serve warm with freshly cooked rice.

Notes on this recipe

  • You will probably need the simmer the chicken for longer than 5 to 10 minutes for it to cook. You probably also want to slice it up into pieces, which the recipe doesn’t tell you to do.
  • Also, this recipe serves two, so if you’re feeding more, you’ll want to increase the quantities

Flash-fried morning glory

Flash fried morning glory


  • 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 200g morning glory (Asian water spinach), cut into 6cm lengths
  • 6 small fresh, whole red Thai chillies, smashed
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce)
  • 1/2 tbsp fermented soybeans
  • 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 60ml stock or water


  1. Add the oil to a wok or large pan and place over a high heat. Once smoking, add the morning glory/water spinach, chillies, garlic, oyster sauce, fermented soybeans, soy sauce and sugar. Stir-fry for 1 – 2 minutes, adding a trickle of stock or water, a little at a time. Stir-fry for a further 2 minutes or until the morning glory is just cooked and still crunchy.
  2. Transfer to a large serving dish and serve immediately.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This recipe serves 1 or 2 as a starter

Slow-cooked beef in herbs

Slow cooked beef in herbs


  • 1 kg beef shank or other cut of choice
  • 1 rhizome of galangal, finely sliced
  • 5 lemongrass stalks, bruised
  • coriander, to garnish
  • mint leave, to garnish
  • spring onions, to garnish

For the sauce:

  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp toasted glutinous rice powder
  • 1 tbsp tamarind sauce


  1. Add the galangal and lemongrass to a large pan of water and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat, add the beef, cover, and simmer over a medium heat for 4 hours.
  2. In a bowl, add the chilli flakes, fish sauce, rice powder and tamarind sauce, then thoroughly mix together.
  3. Transfer the beef to a chopping board and allow to cool, then slice into bite-sized pieces. Garnish the beef with the coriander, mint and chopped spring onions. Eat with rice.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This serves about 4 people
  • It would be useful to know how much water, approximately, should be in said large pan of water. Should it cover the meat entirely? We don’t know.