When Pepper Teigen moved from Korat, Thailand to the Western part of America in 1983, it wasn’t so easy to find the ingredients she needed to make food from home. While living in Utah and pregnant with her daughter Chrissy, her cravings were so intense that she drove an hour away to the closest Asian grocery store to buy fish sauce.
Luckily she no longer has that problem. Pepper lives in Los Angeles with Chrissy and John Legend where she has her own garden and easy access to all of the pantry staples she needs for authentic dishes like the kanom krok (coconut pancakes) that Chrissy has been eating since she was two and her own unique creations (think spaghetti with Thai sweet chile jam).
Kanom Krok - Get the Recipe
The best part? Cooking with her grandkids, Luna and Miles, the next generation in a long lineage of excellent home cooks. In her debut cookbook, The Pepper Thai Cookbook, Pepper shares her eclectic mix of Thai recipes for the whole family—from snacks to yai’s (grandma’s) specialties, such as her Thai glazed ribs.
“Every day, my family gets to taste and smell the garlic, the shallots, the fish sauce, the curry powder, the shrimp paste, the hanging fermented sausages, the Thai chile peppers, and everything else that comes with Mom’s food,” Chrissy writes in the introduction to the book. “Thai food is flavorful, hearty, and spicy—basically everything you need to please your belly and the bellies of those you love,” she adds. Like any good Thai cook, Pepper loves spicy food, so much so that Pepper is actually her adopted name. (Her real name is Vilailuck). But not everyone has the same tolerance for heat. As you make your way through her book, Pepper recommends starting mild and working your way up, adding more chiles to your liking.
Snuk is named after sanook, a Thai word that signifies a fun-loving approach to life. So it’s no coincidence that we carry many of the necessary and often hard-to-find ingredients that Pepper and her family rely on. The below array will enable you to make Pepper’s kanom krok, crispy chicken wings, Thai glazed ribs, and so much more.
Fire up your pantry
Fish sauce is a foundational ingredient for Thai cuisine, and Red Boat is a favorite for Pepper (and us). Made from wild-caught black anchovy and sea salt, it’s barrel-aged and contains no preservatives or MSG.
If you accidentally overdo it on spice, rice is your best friend—and a necessity in any Thai meal. This long-grain rice is grown in the mountains of Thailand has the sweet scent of jasmine, a mild pandan-like flavor and nutty aroma.
A must-have dipping sauce for many Thai snacks (including Pepper’s addictive crispy chicken wings), Mae Ploy’s chili sauce is made from sugar, water, pickled red chilli, vinegar, garlic, salt, and xanthan gum.
Tamarind paste is a key ingredient in Pepper’s Thai glazed ribs. This Wangderm Thai Tamarind Fruit Concentrate is a completely natural souring agent made purely from the pulp of the tangy, sweet, natively Asian fruit.
The ground version of our Thai chile peppers is great for sprinkling into dishes to level up the spice. The resulting heat is bold and immediate, with a subtle lingering flavor.
To make her famous kanom krok, or little coconut pancakes, Pepper calls for full-fat coconut milk. Aroy-D is 100% gluten-free and vegan-friendly with no additives or preservatives—and particularly creamy.
Reprinted from The Pepper Thai Cookbook.
Copyright © 2021 by Vilailuck Teigen with Garrett Snyder. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.