Pepper Teigen's new release, The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Family Recipes from Everyone's Favorite Thai Mom, is exactly what our cookbook libraries need right now. Penned with Los Angeles food writer and cookbook author Garrett Snyder, the Instagram-famous mom of Chrissy Teigen shares her most beloved recipes from her childhood in Isaan, Thailand, dishes she crafted specially for husband Ron's bar in Washington, and family favorites from the Teigen-Legend home in Los Angeles. This is definitely one book to cook your way entirely through.
The stories behind each plate, bowl, and skewer will entice you to pull the fish sauce, tamarind paste, and coconut milk from your pantry and use each one to its fullest potential. We emailed with Pepper, and she answered every question we had until we were satisfied (although she's so entertaining and such a talented cook that we may never truly be satisfied).
What advice do you have for parents and grandparents to help young kids enjoy a wide range of flavors and textures? Can you share an anecdote from your kitchen? Luna and Miles are great eaters, and I like to think that is thanks to me! First, I think it’s important to have kids try as many different kinds of foods and flavors as possible. I also think it’s important, especially with vegetables, to just make sure they taste good. My pad thai Brussels sprouts recipe is a hit with kids because I think it’s a more exciting and flavorful way for them to eat their vegetables. The more they get used to eating foods with bold flavors, the more they will grow to love them. Now, I’m even getting Luna and Miles to like spicy foods, because it’s how I love to cook.
What were the dishes that sold your husband on Thai food when you started cooking for him? Ron is from the Midwest, so when I first met him and moved to the U.S. with him, he was definitely a meat and potatoes guy! I would slowly start introducing him to more Thai flavors by just trying to make dishes that were recognizable to him, but by adding my own flavor. For example, when we were living in Idaho and eating sooo many potatoes, I looked up a recipe for scalloped potatoes, and thought “I can make this better.” That’s how my version of scalloped potatoes was born. Also, I think my Thai chicken wings and spring rolls could make anyone love Thai food.
What might you find on the menu at Luna's famous tea parties? Tea sandwiches, of course! You can use just about anything to make tea sandwiches, but in the book, I share a recipe for chile jam tea sandwiches, which Luna loves. I think tea sandwiches are best when they involve something salty, something creamy, and something crisp and fresh. For my chile jam tea sandwiches, I pair whipped cream cheese, sliced cucumber, and cilantro with sweet chile jam.
What was your most popular dish at Ron's bar in Washington? Definitely spring rolls. They were so popular that in the book I refer to them as my “famous spring rolls.” They got so popular that when our regulars would have parties, they would order 300 spring rolls at a time to serve!
Can I really make Isaan sour sausage at home? Okay, I will admit this recipe is definitely more of a project, but you can definitely make it at home. My suggestion is to make it an event and invite a few friends or family over for a sausage-making party. Since the sausages need at least three days to ferment, you won’t be able to eat the sausages on the day you make them, so you should plan something else for your meal (maybe some pad korat, if you want to make it a real Isaan food day). You’ll still have a lot of fun though, and in a few days you’ll have another excuse to throw a party when you’re ready to eat the sausages. Or you can always eat them all yourself, I won’t tell.
I love that your chapter on salads is entitled "Salads, But Not Boring." What can American salad-eaters learn from Thai salad recipes? Everyone should stop eating boring salads! For my salads, I like to balance sweet with a little bit of salty. If there’s one takeaway for American salad-eaters, it’s don’t be afraid of mixing sweet and salty.
Do Chrissy and John each have a favorite recipe from the book? I'd like to think both John and Chrissy love so many of my recipes that it would be hard for them to pick just one! Some favorites for Chrissy are my scalloped potatoes (she claims it’ll be her last meal on earth) and nam prik sloppy joes. John loves the garlic-stuffed whole fish, chicken wings, and my Thai glazed ribs.
Approximately how many people have DMed you for a pad thai recipe? Too many to count! It was one of the first recipes I made for my book.
Can the Food52 editorial team please join your lovely family? Please! Come over for dinner soon! :)
Will you pick up a copy of The Pepper Thai Cookbook? Let us know in the comments.