We’re a pretty satisfied bunch, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t covetous. Sometimes we see things out there that we just must have. Cool Things We Want is an archive of those earthly desires.
I’m super excited to dig in to chef Angus An’s new Maenam cookbook this week. Just published by Appetite with forewords by two of his mentors, chefs Norman Laprise and David Thompson, the collection of 100+ recipes includes many of the Kitsilano kitchen’s delicious revelations, like the aromatic Eight-Spiced Whole Fish, the spicy Black Pepper Crab, and the electric Hot Sour Soup of Spot Prawns. I’m not sure which recipe I’m going to try and tackle first (most probably one of the many fragrant soups), but I expect to be both challenged and rewarded.
If you’re unfamiliar with Maenam, it’s one of the most important Vancouver restaurants to open in the new wave of the past two decades, treating the traditions of Thai cuisine to the bounty of our shores and farms while pairing it with well-crafted cocktails and local, always interesting wines. It has never not be voted into the Scout 25 by local food and drink professionals, and has won countless awards for its food and service, including Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year. (Many diners, myself included, think it’s been the top Thai restaurant in Canada since the day it opened back in 2009.) Thankfully, Maenam has somehow remained affordable and approachable after all these years, a special feather in our city’s crowded culinary cap. If you’ve never been before, make a reservation today.
My illustrious food writing colleague of many years, Joie Alvaro Kent, is responsible for the cookbook’s text and the talented Darren Chuang was enlisted to produce the rich photography, which I’ve teased in a small gallery above. Because of their contributions, I expect to be enraptured and inspired just thumbing through the pages. One thing that isn’t mentioned in the promo blurb below is that Angus is a serious cookbook collector. The cramped office above his West 4th Ave. restaurant is really just a labyrinth/library of probably over a thousand cookbooks, so to see the bibliophile actually produce a work of his own is pretty special. To have seen his face when he received the first copy would be to understand both pride and joy!
In Maenam, chef Angus An takes you on his ongoing journey of discovering Thai cuisine and shows how to blend traditional Thai flavors and cooking techniques with local, seasonal inspirations from the west coast. With Angus’s foolproof instructions, Maenam offers the foundation to modern Thai cuisine for adventurous cooks of all skill levels. Filled with over 100 of his signature recipes, each meal balances robust, intense ingredients with his approach to Thai food’s clear, sharp flavours. Transform your kitchen with snacks inspired by Thai street vendors, quick to prepare noodles and one-bowl meals, light- and full-bodied soups to have all year-round, flavorful and protein-filled salads, seasoned stir fries, killer curries, and refreshing desserts.