Oh, Thai Food! What Atrocities Are Committed in Thy Name!

Last weekend The Daily Telegraph published a clutch of so-called Thai recipes. Let’s look at one of them, by Rose Prince. The ingredients start OK with monkfish. Local Thai fish aren’t going to be readily available in the UK, so the substitution is fine. Lemongrass – that’s Thai. Then things start to go awry: pink peppercorns (never used in Thai cooking), parsley (never used). Rice vinegar – OK. Muscavado sugar – no! Half a washed, chopped anchovy!!! My Thai acquaintances universally loathe tinned anchovies. They’re sometimes called plaa raa farang. Plaa raa is a foul fermented fish that most westerners find virtually impossible to eat, and certainly impossible to enjoy. Thai people feel the same way about anchovies.

The recipe continues with lemon. Lemons are virtually unobtainable in Thailand – there isn’t even a Thai word for them. Thai cooking only uses limes – never lemons.

The recipe plunges into further depths of absurdity in calling for “white radicchio castelfranco”. Needless to say, this is not a staple of Thai cuisine.

I’m not saying that this dish isn’t delicious. In fact, I respect Rose Prince as a food writer, so if you’re tempted to try it the recipe’s at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/8541808/Coconut-milk-shortage-top-Thai-recipes-without-coconut-milk.html. But why, oh why, oh why is it necessary to call this “[one of] our top Thai recipes”?

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