A guide to bold, authentic Thai cooking from Andy Ricker, the chef and owner of the wildly popular and widely lauded Pok Pok restaurants.
After decades spent traveling throughout Thailand, Andy Ricker wanted to bring the country's famed street food stateside. In 2005 he opened Pok Pok, so named for the sound a pestle makes when it strikes a clay mortar, in an old shack in a residential neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Ricker's traditional take on Thai food soon drew the notice of the New York Times and Gourmet magazine, establishing him as a culinary star. Now, with his first cookbook, Ricker tackles head-on the myths that keep people from making Thai food at home: that it's too spicy for the American palate or too difficult to source ingredients.
Ricker shares more than fifty of the most popular recipes from Thailand and his Pok Pok restaurants—ranging from Khao Soi Kai (Northern Thai curry noodle soup with chicken) to Som Tam Thai (Central Thai–style papaya salad) to Pok Pok’s now-classic (and obsessed-over) Fish-Sauce Wings. But Pok Pok is more than just a collection of favorite recipes: it is also a master course in Thai cooking from one of the most passionate and knowledgeable authorities on the subject. Clearly written, impeccably tested recipes teach you how to source ingredients; master fundamental Thai cooking techniques and skills; understand flavor profiles that are unique to Southeast Asian cuisine; and combine various dishes to create show-stopping, well-balanced meals for family and friends.
Filled with thoughtful, colorful essays about Ricker’s travels and experiences, Pok Pok is not only a definitive resource for home cooks, but also a celebration of the rich history, vibrant culture, and unparalleled deliciousness of Thai food.
|Product dimensions:||10.76(w) x 8.24(h) x 1.14(d)|
About the Author
ANDY RICKER worked in restaurants all over the world before opening his first restaurant, Pok Pok, in Portland. He has since gone on to open Whiskey Soda Lounge, Pok Pok Noi, and Sen Yai in Portland, and Pok Pok NY in New York City.
JJ GOODE has co-written several books including Pok Pok with Andy Ricker, April Bloomfield's A Girl and Her Pig, and Morimoto with Masaharu Morimoto.
Read an Excerpt
Foreword by David Thompson
“One more plate of laap—please, Andy,” was my plea. I needed more. I had just finished a plate of this Northern Thai dish of chopped meat (pork, in this instance) mixed with spices and herbs. I have eaten laap many times before—it is a regional classic. However, this rendition was irresistible. The minced pork was rich and smoky, the spices bitter and tangy, the herbs enticingly aromatic. The combination of all these flavors left a wonderful taste that lingered long after I’d finished my last bite. I simply just had to order a second plate.
I confess I was surprised by how good it was; really, it had no right to be so delicious. After all, I was sitting in Portland, Oregon—a far, far cry from Chiang Mai, the Northern Thai city that is this dish’s home.
I guess I shouldn’t have been astonished. Andy may have opened his first Pok Pok restaurant in Portland, but the food he cooks has deep roots in Thailand. It might seem strange that this six-foot-tall Vermonter is cooking Northern Thai food so well, until you understand Andy’s love for the Thais, their cuisine, and in particular the hazy mountainous province of Chiang Mai. Andy makes regular visits to Thailand, where he trawls the markets—watching, asking questions, and collecting recipes. He chats engagingly with local cooks, who share with him tips and techniques—but he is also a keen observer, and gets ideas and knowledge from furtively watching other, unsuspecting cooks. Either way, by whatever means, Andy gets the goods.
Whenever Andy comes to Thailand, I see him in Bangkok, where I live, and occasionally we travel together up-country. Accompanying Andy as he pursues his culinary quarry can be exhausting. He moves quickly from shop to shop, market to market, or village to village with nary a regard for his fellow travelers. He walks past the stalls that don’t pass muster, refusing to stop, while those of us in his wake bleat plaintively, wanting to eat, looking longingly at dishes he dismisses and leaves untouched. Mr. Ricker demands the best and thus he commands my respect, even if I do often end up hungry, tired, and sulky.
Andy has turned his not being Thai into an advantage. He is not limited by an inherent belief, as many Thais are, that his mother’s is the best and the only way to cook. His approach is much broader and more encompassing; he casts his culinary net wider, across all of Northern Thailand and its verdant and fertile fields.
Andy first backpacked through Asia and landed in Thailand in 1987, around the time I was making those same laps. I am surprised I didn’t run into him. Although, given the similarity of our quests, our mutual love for Thailand, and our crazy partying ways, it’s quite possible we did. . . .
Andy’s moment of culinary epiphany came over a mushroom. Mine was over a serpent head fish, clearly demonstrating that we can’t choose our moments. The objects of our inspiration—some fungi and a fish, respectively—might seem silly, but in the end, they prompted both of us to change the course of our lives, including how we eat and cook.
I still recall that sour orange curry of serpent head fish, tart with tamarind leaves, plump with flavor. The seasoning, tastes, and textures of that curry transformed my understanding of Thai food. From then on I was hooked.
I moved to Bangkok to learn about the city’s remarkable cuisine, regal past, and sophisticated tastes, opening a few swank restaurants in the process. Meanwhile, Andy was researching up-country, eating his way through the north of Thailand. Later he opened the first Pok Pok restaurant in Portland on a maxed-out credit card, a mortgage, and with little capital. In the decade since then, he has established himself as an important voice in Thai cooking and an emissary of Northern Thai food internationally.
I remember working with Andy in both New York City and Portland and being amazed at his rather informal approach to cooking, kitchens, and restaurants. His very first restaurant was built out of his kitchen and partially demolished house, the food served through a window onto his porch and into the backyard—much like some small countryside restaurant in Thailand. You see, I come from the dainty world of fine dining, where certain things—such as grilling over charcoal in smoky forty-four-gallon drums, backyard coconut pressing, drinking beer on the job out of glass jars, fermenting mustard greens on the roof, and more beer drinking—were simply not done (unfortunately). But the casual appearance of Andy’s restaurants belies the rigorous, ambitious cooking that happens in his kitchens. He is obsessed with making the very best food he can. I admire the canny way he doctors his lime juice to approximate the taste of lime juice in Thailand, the resourceful way he finds and secures Thai produce, and his faithful adherence to Thai recipes, techniques, and tastes. The restaurants may not look terribly fancy, but inside, Andy and his Pok Pok crew are complete perfectionists, constantly adjusting and tinkering with their recipes to ensure everything is right.
Andy has almost singlehandedly created a market for regional Thai cuisine in the United States. Such food was practically unknown in the US before Pok Pok, but now, many of the dishes he cooks are the objects of cultlike devotion. For proof of his swashbuckling success, simply observe the lines that wind down the street outside of the Pok Pok restaurants. People clamor for his food—a style of cooking that they didn’t know existed before 2005. One excellent example is that delectable pork laap, which was as lip-smackingly good as any version I have found in Thailand.
While eagerly waiting for my second plate, I looked across our table—with its now-empty plates of grilled sausages, noodle salads, soups, curries, and chili dips—to the other tables of equally replete and happy diners. I couldn’t help but wonder, what would this damned skillful cook do next?
Well, you’re now holding Andy’s latest project: the Pok Pok cookbook. In it, Andy chronicles Chiang Mai’s wide-ranging culinary repertoire—including my longed-for pork laap, a sour orange curry quite similar to the one that first enthralled me so many years ago, and many other Northern dishes. This book is the product of years and years of research, practice, and experience, and clearly demonstrates why Andy and Pok Pok are so successful: great food; honest, practical advice and guidance; and a sincere desire to please without compromising the integrity of the cuisine. It’s a winning recipe.
Table of ContentsForeword by David Thompson
How to Use This Book
Thai Regional Rundown
the MortaR and Pestle
CHAPTER 1 Khao (Rice)
The Absurdity of Authenticity
Khao Hom Mali (Jasmine rice)
Khao Niaw (Sticky rice)
CHAPTER 2 Som Tam (Papaya salad and family)
Som Tam Thai (Central Thai–style papaya salad)
Som Tam Lao (Lao/Isaan-style papaya salad)
Som Tam Phonlamai (Thai fruit salad)
Tam Taeng Kwaa (Thai cucumber salad)
CHAPTER 3 Yam (Thai “salads”)
Yam Khai Dao (Fried egg salad)
Yam Tuna (Thai tuna salad)
Yam Wun Sen “Chao Wang” (Sunny’s fancy glass noodle salad)
Yam Makheua Yao (Grilled eggplant salad)
Yam Samun Phrai (Northern Thai–style herbal salad)
Neua Naam Tok (Isaan steak salad)
Het Paa Naam Tok (Isaan-style forest mushroom salad)
CHAPTER 4 Plaa (Fish)
Plaa Neung Manao (Steamed whole fish with lime and chiles)
Plaa Neung Si Ew (Steamed whole fish with soy sauce, ginger, and vegetables)
Plaa Phao Kleua (Grilled salt-crusted fish with chile dipping sauce)
Plaa Thawt Lat Phrik (Deep-fried whole fish with chile sauce)
Aep Plaa (Curried fish grilled in banana leaves)
CHAPTER 5 Phat (Stir-fries)
Phat Khanaeng (Stir-fried Brussels sprouts)
Phat Fak Thawng (Northern Thai–style stir-fried squash)
Phak Buung Fai Daeng (Stir-fried water spinach)
Phat Phak Ruam Mit (Stir-fried mixed vegetables)
Puu Phat Phong Karii (Crab stir-fried with curry powder)
CHAPTER 6 Laap (Thai minced-meat salads)
Laap Meuang (Northern Thai minced pork salad)
Laap Pet Isaan (Isaan minced duck salad)
Laap Plaa Duuk Isaan (Isaan minced catfish salad)
CHAPTER 7 Khong Yaang (Grilled foods)
Muu Kham Waan (Grilled pork neck with spicy dipping sauce and iced greens)
Sii Khrong Muu Yaang (Thai-style pork ribs)
Sai Ua Samun Phrai (Northern Thai–style herbal sausage)
Kai Yaang (Whole roasted young chicken)
Muu Sateh (Pork satay)
Khao Phot Ping (Grilled corn with salty coconut cream)
CHAPTER 8 Kaeng, Tom, & Co. (Curries and soups)
Kaeng Jeut Wun Sen (“Bland” soup with glass noodles)
Jaw Phak Kat (Northern Thai mustard green soup with tamarind and pork ribs)
Jin Hoom Neua (Northern Thai stewed beef soup)
Yam Jin Kai (Northern Thai chicken soup)
Kaeng Khiaw Waan Luuk Chin Plaa (Green curry with fish balls and eggplant)
Kaeng Som Kung (Sour curry with shrimp)
Kaeng Khanun (Northern Thai young jackfruit curry)
Kaeng Hung Leh (Burmese-style pork belly curry)
CHAPTER 9 Naam Phrik (Chile dips)
Naam Phrik Num (Green chile dip)
Naam Phrik Plaa Thuu (Grilled-fish dip)
Naam Phrik Ong (Northern Thai pork and tomato dip)
Naam Phrik Kha (Dry-fried galangal-chile dip)
CHAPTER 10 Aahaan Jaan Diaw (The one-plate meal)
Khao Kha Muu (Pork shank stewed with five spice)
Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao (Stir-fried chicken with hot basil)
Khao Phat Muu (Thai-style fried rice with pork)
Khao Man Som Tam (Papaya salad with coconut rice and sweet pork)
Khao Tom (Thai rice soup)
Kuaytiaw Pet Tuun (Stewed duck noodle soup)
Kuaytiaw Reua (Boat noodles)
Ba Mii Tom Yam Muu Haeng (Spicy, sweet, tart noodles with pork, peanuts, and herbs)
Kung Op Wun Sen (Shrimp and glass noodles baked in a clay pot)
Khao Soi Kai (Northern Thai curry noodle soup with chicken)
Phat Si Ew (Stir-fried rice noodles with pork, Chinese broccoli, and soy sauce)
Phat Thai (Stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, tofu, and peanuts)
Hoi Thawt (Broken crepe with mussels)
Kuaytiaw Khua Kai (Stir-fried noodles with chicken, egg, and cuttlefish on lettuce)
Khanom Jiin Naam Yaa (Thai rice noodles with fish-and-krachai curry)
Khanom Jiin Naam Ngiew (Thai rice noodles with Northern Thai curry)
Phat Khanom Jiin (Stir-fried Thai rice noodles)
CHAPTER 11 Aahaan Farang (Foreign food)
Stir-Fried Yunnan Ham with Chiles
Cha cá Lã Vºng (Vietnamese turmeric-marinated catfish with noodles and herbs)
Ike’s Vietnamese Fish-Sauce Wings
CHAPTER 12 Khong Waan (Sweets)
Khanom Bataeng Laai (Northern Thai melon custard)
Khao Niaw Mamuang (Sticky rice with mango and salty-sweet coconut cream)
Khao Niaw Sankhaya Turian (Sticky rice with durian custard)
Khanom Pang Ai Tiim (Thai-style ice cream sandwich)
Pok Pok Affogato
CHAPTER 13 Sundry Items (Stock, Condiments, and Pantry Staples)
Sup Kraduuk Muu (Pork stock)
Muu Deng (Bouncy pork balls)
Khai Tom (Eight-minute eggs)
Phrik Phon Khua (Toasted-chile powder)
Khao Khua (Toasted–sticky rice powder)
Krathiem Jiaw and Naam Man Krathiem (Fried garlic and garlic oil)
Hom Daeng Jiaw and Naam Man Hom Daeng (Fried shallots and shallot oil)
Kapi Kung (Homemade shrimp paste)
Naam Makham (Tamarind water)
Naam Cheuam Naam Taan Piip (Palm sugar simple syrup)
Naam Jim Kai (Sweet chile dipping sauce)
Naam Jim Kai Yaang (Tamarind dipping sauce)
Jaew (Spicy, tart dipping sauce for meat)
Phrik Naam Som (Sour chile dipping sauce)
Naam Jim Seafood (Spicy, tart dipping sauce for seafood)
Naam Jim Sateh (Peanut sauce)
Yam Makheua Thet (Fish sauce–soaked tomatoes)
Ajaat (Cucumber relish)
Cu Cai (Pickled carrot and daikon radish)
Phrik Tam Naam Som (Grilled-chile vinegar)
Phrik Naam Plaa (Fish sauce–soaked chiles)
Phrik Naam Som (Vinegar-soaked chiles)
Naam Phrik Phao (Roasted chile paste)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I LOVE this cookbook! I traveled to Thailand in 1997, and had a somewhat similar itinerary to Andy Ricker's: travel around to out-of-the way places in the northern part of the country, and watch people cook, and eat, the local food. Once back home in the USA, I've searched and struggled to recreate my incredible dining experiences. This cookbook is the answer to my 17-year search. Now, if I could just get myself to Pok Pok, the restaurants, in Portland and NYC.
The Pok pok cookbook is great for people of any age who want to eat/try thai food. There are only a few things people might not like about some recipes, but otherwise it is a good cookbook. I recomend that buy the paperback. It is not as good in black and white. Before buying the book I recomend that you go to the restaurant. Get there about 20-30 minutes before they open.
This was a refreshing read for a cookbook. I haven't tried a lot of Thai food but I like some of the soups and also the Pad Thai. I thought it was great that you named your restaurant for the mortar and pestle grinding sound. I wish we had more restaurants closer to us. I will definitely try some of these recipes. Maybe my husband will even taste some.
I give your story 3 stars so far. I saw several spelling mistakes, but keep going! I enjoyed the story so far.
I can be a nerd! Also a gamer!
Mean poneh<br> Name: Spicy Pepper (Pepper) <br> Gender: Stallion<br> Looks: White body with a long mane that covers one eye. Eyes are a deep purple. CM is a pepper shaker <br> Personality: Single-Minded, selfish, harsh sense of humor.
Heyyy can i be in it? My bios at st res 5 or something. Anyways, heres some bios for you: Summer Song- Gender: Girl. Skin: light pink. Mane: yellow and orange. Eyes: blue. Personality: a jerk to ponies who annoy her but can he pretty nice. CM: a yellow sun behind a music note. <p> Misty Lake- Gender: girl. Skin- grey-blue. Mane: dark green and blue. Eyes: bright blue. Personality: Summer Songs friend, acts sorta like her but a bit nicer. CM: fog over a lake.
Pony 1- <br> Name- Nutmeg Sugar <br> Age- Eh. <br> Gender- Filly/Mare <br> Coat- Nutmen brown <br> Eyes- A swirl of orange and burhgandy(?) Twilight style <br> Mane/Tail- Creamy white Rarity style <br> Personality- A 'queen bee' <br> Cutie Mark- A pumpkin pie with white sparkles above it <br> Other- You decide! <p> Pony 2- <br> Name- Blue Pencil <br> Age- Young <br> Gender- Filly/Mare <br> Coat- Cyan blue <br> Eyes- Pale yellow Fluttershy style <br> Mane/Tail- Rosy pink with white stripes <br> Personality- A nerd <br> Cutie Mark- A pencil with a book beside it <br> Other- She's scrawny and small
RadSword-I want to be the popular pony.<p>LightShadow-I want to be the boyfriend.<p>Blazin-Good keep going.