Photography by James Murphy

Frances Lincoln, London, 1997
Paperback edition, Frances Lincoln, 2000

This was one of a series that the publisher Frances Lincoln launched in the mid-nineties. Unfortunately not everyone wants a cookbook with the word 'Healthy' in the title (one famous New York bookseller, who had said he would be happy to stock anything by Sri Owen, told me he'd turned this one down, just for that reason). Reviewers in Bangkok distrusted it on the grounds that, as one of them wrote, 'All Thai food is healthy anyway, so why do you put 'Healthy' on the cover?' However, he still gave it a good write-up. The titles, as a series, only got as far as the Mediterranean, Thailand, and India. But Healthy Thai has had a good run, since its publication in 1998, and the paperback edition is still in print and thriving.

Incidentally, this was the first of my books to be edited by Lewis Esson, who has made me realise, in this and several books since, what a vital contribution a good editor makes to a book’s success.

You may have noticed that my earlier books were illustrated only with line drawings by my good friend Soun Vannithone, a young Lao artist who escaped, with his family, into Thailand and eventually to England in the late 1970s. But as Asian food became more widely popular, the public began to demand, and publishers to produce, more luxuriously- presented cookbooks with fine colour photographs. ‘Healthy Thai’ was the first of my books (well, almost) to get this treatment, and I must say that all the photographers I've worked with have achieved superb results. What's more, we have always - with very few exceptions - sat down and eaten the food after it was photographed. All the dishes that are so gorgeously pictured in all my books are 'real' - no paint, cotton wool, shiny glazes or other inedible aids to beauty. Your finished dish really can look like this, and even if you don't quite achieve the results of a professional home economist, it will certainly taste every bit as good!