Samui Wining & Dining
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December’s Thai culinary ‘Website of The Month’ is www.chow.com.

 

22I’m hardly surprised. Being a part of the American CBS Corporation and, like many sites run by media orientated organizations, www.chow.com is very well thought-out and maintained. You could spend days browsing through the site as they cover a global range of topics all about food. It’s very much designed to include interactions with the general public and could very well stagnate without these contributions.

Open up on the homepage and you’ll see links to articles, regular columns, reader contributions, weekly themes, videos and blogs. Many of them are very interesting and informative and it’s got the feel of a Sunday newspaper supplement solely dedicated to food. You can get distracted, which is no bad thing if you have the time, and you’ll pick up on recipes and tips that you didn’t realize you knew nothing about. But if you want to focus primarily on Thai dishes then just click on the ‘Recipes’ link. You’ll then see a box where you can browse by cuisine and that produces 31 hits on Thai food.

However, if you go to the internal search engine at the top and type in the word ‘Thai’ you get 80 results. And along with all the usual rice, noodle and curry dishes you’d expect to see, there are quite a few which contributors have created and that certainly gets you thinking. From what I can see I think most of the recipes have been submitted by professional chefs or very keen amateur cooks and you’ll see the same names keep cropping up beside the recipes as you scroll down.

Click on a few recipes and you’ll notice that they have the same layout. There’s a picture of the dish, a list of ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions. And that’s pretty much standard for most sites. But there are a number of additional features that I like here. Take the ‘Roasted fish with Thai pesto’ recipe by Aida Mollencamp. She tells you how long it should take to make, whether it’s easy or difficult and gives a little introductory information about the dish plus some tips. In addition, all the ingredients are listed in a blue colour and if you click on them they link to another page that gives you some more details about them. For instance, when you click on ‘lemon-grass’ it tells you when it’s in season, what qualities it should have, how to store it and prepare it, and so on.

There’re also comments included at the bottom by readers who have tried the recipe and you can pick up some more tips here. Some people try substituting ingredients if they don’t like a particular vegetable or herb or can’t source it locally. And if you do like the dish you can find out more about the author and other recipes they’ve contributed by clicking on their picture icon. Aida, for example, who has posted hundreds of times, is a chef, writer and television personality, has her own website, lives in San Francisco, was inspired to become a chef after a trip to Florence with her Italian-American mum, has a French stepmother and loves Double Chocolate Malted Tart. I almost feel like a stalker, but you get the picture.

To the right of the recipe there’re also related links to the ingredients, similar types of dishes and related articles and blogs. As I said, this is an excellent website and would make my top-five for general food sites and my top-ten for Thai recipes. Clear, concise, informative, plenty of handy tips and pictures and easy to navigate, it doesn’t get much better than that.

 


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