Looking at my blog just now, I realized that the last “real” post was published on April 2, 2018. (The post was about food and cooking in Thai TV series in general and the primetime series Love Destiny in particular. I had so much fun writing that post, and I was so excited—chuffed to bits, in this case—because The Guardian mentioned it. (Thank you, Philip Cornwel-Smith.)
Many things have happened since then. Here’s a short list of those things—in no particular order.
My third book, Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked Over Charcoal, was released right when we all went into the first COVID lockdown. Great timing. Most people weren’t grilling and eating with their friends and family for at least the first half of 2020. Authors couldn’t do book tours or any in-person promotional events. No grilling demos either. That was the weirdest book launch ever. But many of you have cooked from the book and loved it, and I am so grateful.
The August 2021 issue of Bon Appétit magazine has featured my Thai feast—lots of different things from grilled pork shoulder with charred green peppers to spicy cucumber salad, sticky rice, grilled scallops with a sweet and spicy sauce, and many more. (Bonus: I drew some little illustrations to go with the feature also.) The August issue is available now. You can get it from your local bookstore—hurry, though!—or subscribe.
In 2018, my second book, Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand, was named the winner of The Art of Eating Prize for being the best food book of 2018. The Art of Eating Prize is awarded annually to the author of the year’s single best food book (they don’t have different categories). More details on Penguin Random House’s announcement page.
I wrote an article called What Can’t Fennel Do? It was published on TASTE in October 2019 and later in November 2020 named one of the notable pieces in The Best American Food Writing 2020. (Warning: I talk about Frankenstein in the article. But, hey, my recipe for Roasted Salmon with Fennel Pollen and Caramelized Fennel with Buttered Fennel Seeds isn’t at all scary, though the title is a bit long.)
I encouraged my friends at Dill Magazine to send James Beard Award-winning journalist Mike Sula of Chicago Reader to Bangkok to learn about nam phrik, Thai relishes. He came back with the best article on the topic in the English language to date. It was published in the Relishes issue of the magazine, released in 2018. The same issue also contains an interview with me about “khluk,” the traditional way Thais eat their relishes.
In January 2019, I was on NPR’s The Splendid Table podcast talking to Francis Lam about the food of Bangkok. You can listen at your own risk here.
I’ve written an article for Epicurious about the grilled chicken at Jeeraphan, one of the restaurants in Thailand that specialize in the so-called Thai Muslim cuisine.1 In the article, I’ve also explained how to spatchcock a chicken the Thai way. I also wrote a related article about the dhungar method, which you can use to add the delicious smoky flavor to various dishes. (I do this a lot in the winter when I don’t go outside to grill.)
In August 2019, I invited you to join the cult of dace on TASTE. You can also use the dace to make my Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli with Fried Dace and Salted Black Beans.
I started posting my doodles on Instagram a lot more.
I told my fellow Chicagoans on Twitter what to try at our favorite Thai market, but I hope this is also useful for those who live elsewhere.
Before the summer ends, I’d like to encourage you to make this Garlicky Instant Ramen Noodle Salad in honor of Ah Pae, a beloved noodle vendor of my childhood in Bangkok. The recipe, published on Epicurious last month, was written with a cookout and/or a picnic in mind, and I hope you’ll make it for your family. Don’t forget to wash it down with Thai iced tea (cha yen). My recipe has been adapted and published in the New York Times Cooking.
And last but certainly not least, I launched The Epestle, the newsletter you’re reading right now. Many of you have signed up for it, and I’m so thrilled to be connecting with you all through this medium. Thank you for your support of my work, and thank you for trusting me enough to allow another newsletter to enter your inbox. I know you have a lot to do and to read, and I’m honored that you’ve chosen to read what I write. Thank you. (If you have not become a premium subscriber, please do. We’ve cooked a lot of things these past several weeks. Earlier this month, we made fermented fish, and this week, we made an easy version of watermelon rind-egg drop sour curry. Join us!)
This culinary tradition originated from the communities of Thais of Islamic faith with ancestral lines tracing back to South Asia, Persia, or the Malay Peninsula. In Thailand, these people identify as Thai Muslims and, despite the nuanced differences between their culinary traditions, explicitly call both their shared culinary heritage and their food businesses "Muslim." Restaurants specializing in this cuisine often have the word “Muslim” in their names; one—it has, sadly, shuttered for good—was even called “Muslim Restaurant.”