You may be familiar with Chrissy Teigen and her love for food and cooking, but she had to learn those kitchen skills somewhere. That’s where her mother, Vilailuck Teigen — lovingly known as Pepper Thai — comes in. While Pepper often collaborates with Chrissy — and even had her own chapter in “Cravings” — now, she has her very own collection of recipes, “The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Recipes from Everyone’s Favorite Thai Mom,” which will be released on April 13.
Pepper is perhaps most well-known for her video series, “Pepper’s Corner,” on Chrissy’s website and YouTube channel, where she shares cooking tips and recipes from her childhood. But now, Pepper is out of the corner and in the spotlight.
In “The Pepper Thai Cookbook,” Pepper shares a collection of classic Thai recipes and Thai-American fusions that she created, including meals she prepares for Chrissy, son-in-law John Legend and grandkids Luna and Miles.
Beyond recipes, Pepper shares stories about her relationship with food while growing up in Thailand. She write about how she would help her mother prepare and sell different street foods in the morning before heading to school. But after Pepper got married and moved to the United States, she had to learn how to adapt her favorite Thai meals using American ingredients. For example, there weren’t many green papayas in Utah in the ’80s. So if she was craving papaya salad, she learned to use cabbage and carrots as a substitute.
Food has always been a way for Pepper to stay connected with Thailand and introduce her family to her culture. In the book, Pepper notes that cooking Thai food shouldn’t be a scary experience and that, with practice, you will learn to trust your taste buds to make dishes that will fit your palate. And she’s adamant that you don’t have to be a chef or have any professional cooking tools to make the dishes in this cookbook.
But, of course, there are the recipes. And if you’re ready to eat like a member of the Teigen-Legend household, Pepper gave us a preview of two recipes from her cookbook: Crispy Shrimp Toast and Thai Glazed Ribs.
Crispy Shrimp Toast
Crispy shrimp toast is a crispy fried appetizer delightfully easy to make. All you have to do is create a shrimp and cilantro mixture, spread it on top of white bread and fry it in a pan with vegetable oil. A helpful tip is to flatten the white bread with your hands first before frying so the bread won’t absorb the oil and you can enjoy a super crunchy exterior with a soft, fluffy interior.
Thai Glazed Ribs
This Thai glazed ribs recipe is only one variation of many that Pepper has up her sleeves. These are deep-fried and covered in sweet, sticky fish sauce and tamarind glaze. You can keep the racks whole or chop them up into bite-size riblets to make the perfect appetizer for any special occasion.
A common theme you’ll find in this cookbook is Pepper’s love for using cilantro to either garnish or add flavor to sauces, dressings and marinades. Since fresh cilantro roots aren’t easily accessible in the U.S., she suggests using cilantro stems, which is also a great way to use food scraps to make a delicious meal.
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