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An expert on Thai cooking shares her secrets with readers hungry for the tangy, mouth-watering tastes of this ancient Asian country, introducing 125 recipes that emphasize seafood. 25,000 first printing. More than a cookbook, Dancing Shrimp is both a rumination on how Thai food--the original fusion food, says author Kasma Loha-unchit--developed as a cuisine and a very thorough manual on how to properly prepare fresh fish, crustaceans, and mollusks in the Thai tradition. Filled with 125 tantalizing and sometimes challenging recipes, Loha-unchit covers not only basic cooking tenets but explores how to create dishes that balance the Thai people's love of the five primary flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy.
Many of the recipes feature flavors not common in Western cooking, but Loha-unchit teaches you how to create a savory meal in which the disparate tastes work in harmony. In addition to the recipes, there are chapters on Thailand's seafood culture, how to select and prepare seafood, preserved foods and flavoring ingredients (like fish sauce, a staple item), and techniques and equipment. For those unfamiliar with fish sauce or shrimp paste, she explains how they are made, her favorite brands, and where you can purchase them (there's a store index in the back).
The recipes themselves are mouth-watering: Hot-and-Sour Shrimp Salad with Roasted Chilli Sauce, Lemon Grass, and Mint, Curried Mussels on the Half Shell with Flaked Crab, and Ginger-Tamarind Fish Soup, to name only a few. Though some of the recipes may seem daunting at first, Loha-unchit reminds us that "the wide range of variables makes Thai cooking exciting and Thai food both a simple and complex blend of invigorating flavors." After all, it's hard to resist Garlic-Black Bean Pan-Fried Red Snapper. Be sure to serve with a big pot of sticky white rice. --Dana Van Nest