Vatch’s South East Asian Cookbook

With over 120 recipes to cook from this is another book that I always feel very comfortable working with. For someone like me who is not a trained chef, I find it very easy to navigate and with all the ingredients you are ever going to need all laid out for you at the beginning, this book will transform your Asian recipes into something special. Also once I get used to cooking with unfamiliar ingredients, I get brave and inventive and mix them up a bit to see what comes out, usually tested on close friends before unsuspecting dinner guests sit down to consume the result. Use good quality products which can be sourced from any Thai supermarket.

Two of my fav dishes are these two and they work well together, obviously go more or less on the chilli etc according to your palate.In Laos it’s Tam Som in Thailand it’s Som Tam, whatever you call it, it’s soooooo good, you will want to make a batch and eat it all week.



  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 or 5 small red or green chillies
  • 2 longbeans, chopped into 5cm lengths
  • 175g fine slivers of raw papaya
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon fermented fish
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or to taste, (I use 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar/ raw cane
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (at least)
  • Fresh vegetables such as longbeans/ cabbage

In a large mortar pound the garlic to a paste, add the chillies, pound again. Add longbeans, but only break them up slightly. Then, using a spoon, add the papaya and lightly pound, giving them the odd stir. Add the tomato, pound again lightly, add fish and fish sauce, sugar and lime juice, stir very well.

Turn out onto a plate and serve with the raw green vegetables and more lime wedges.

Works well with this: Ngua Pad Mak Khe Ua, Fried beef with Aubergine

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 small red or green chillies, finely chopped
  • 175g minced beef
  • 225g aubergine, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, (I use 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or raw cane
  • 20 sweet basil leaves

Heat the oil in a wok or deep pan, fry garlic for 30 seconds, add chillies, stir well for 30 seconds. Add the minced beef, stir, add aubergine, stir again and add fish sauce, taste it, add sugar, check taste again. I usually add a little more fish sauce to balance the sweetness of the sugar. Add the aubergine and stir until fry until just cooked, add the basil mix together and serve straight away, be ready for 8 simple ingredients to blow you away.

Crack open a cold Beerlao beer and transport yourself to a different place.


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