This week I have chef Pailin Chongchitnant, host of the YouTube channel Pailin’s Kitchen, and author of the companion website Hot Thai Kitchen. She recently released her 2nd cookbook, Sabai: 100 Simple Thai Recipes for Any Day of the Week.
This episode is a primer on Thai food and cooking. She dispels some Thai food myths, and shares her top five items for stocking a Thai pantry at home. We discuss why she was compelled to write another cookbook, and she shares how she grew her YouTube channel to over 1.5 million subscribers and almost 170 million views.
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A quick internet search for Thai peanut sauce will yield dozens if not hundreds of results. Most of them call for peanut butter. But did you know they don't even have peanut butter and Thailand. More traditionally, they'd be making satay sauce with crushed peanuts in it. It might have been Pi Day on Tuesday, but we're celebrating all week because chef Palin of Hot Thai Kitchen released her new cookbook syllabi on Tuesday, and she's here to talk about it. This is Chris spear. And you're listening to Chefs Without Restaurants, the show where I speak with culinary entrepreneurs and people working in the food and beverage industry outside of a traditional restaurant setting. So this is a special Thursday edition of the podcast. I didn't get it out yesterday. Did you miss me? If you can't tell by my lovely hoarse voice, I'm battling a bout of bronchitis. So I've been a bit under the weather and I'm going to keep this intro short and sweet this week. This week, I have Chef Palin host of the YouTube channel pilots kitchen and author of The companion website Hot Thai kitchen. She recently released her second cookbook syllabi 100 Simple Thai recipes for any day of the week. This episode is really a primer on Thai food and cooking. She dispels some of the Thai food myths and shares her top five items for stocking a Thai pantry at home. We discuss why she was compelled to write another cookbook. And she shares how she grew her YouTube channel to over one and a half million subscribers and almost 170 million views overall. That is quite impressive. And I know a lot of you out there are creating content and would love to know how to do that. No plugs this week, no ads this week, well, maybe a plug. If you love the show, tell people about it. Just post the show and say hey, I'm listening this podcast Chefs Without Restaurants, I really love it, share it on Instagram, Facebook, whatever. But other than that, that's all I got. I'm gonna go have a cup of hot tea and rest my throat because I'm losing my voice. As always, I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to the show. I hope you have an amazing rest of the day week whenever you're listening to this, and I'll see you around. Hey, hi. Welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.Pailin:
Thank you for having me.Chris Spear:
I'm really excited to talk to you today. I love Thai food and cooking. I'm not fantastic at Thai cooking. So maybe I will pick up some personal tips. That's a little selfish part of me. It's one of the nice things about having guests on the show is I get to kind of ask them all the questions that I want to know.Pailin:
Yeah, ask away. I love nerding out over Thai food.Chris Spear:
So you have a website with lots of recipes on it a YouTube channel that has like 160 something million views, and a new cookbook, which is your second one syllabi, which will be out on March 14. So it sounds like we're going to be it sounds like we're gonna be talking about some Thai food and cooking today. I can assume that right?Pailin:
Yes, yes.Chris Spear:
Well, I would love to start with your backstory, especially as it relates to food and cooking, like how you grew up was food, something that you were really interested in when you were younger, and then how you kind of brought it into more of a content creation setting, if you will, you know, videos and books and such.Pailin:
Right. So I grew up in in Thailand, and I had always been really interested in food and cooking just I was naturally drawn towards whatever was happening in the kitchen. So I learned how to cook at a very young age. But then as a teenager, I was living in Thailand still and Thailand started importing cooking shows from overseas. So I was watching Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson and mostly British and Australian shows. And I fell in love with that. Like it just looked to me like the perfect job. As a kid. I love to cook and I always love to present I always enjoy public public speaking. And it was the perfect combination of the two. And I thought that's it. That is what I want to be when I grow up. I am going to be on TV and show people how to cook. Not realizing Of course, that you don't just go apply for a job like that. And so I ended up just pursuing a career as a chef. And hope that one day there'll be some sort of a show opportunity down the line. And then when YouTube came along, it was like, well, you no longer have to wait for anyone to discover you. You can have a show if you want to show and I did it.Chris Spear:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's so cool. I mean, I search YouTube for everything. I'm always appreciative of the people who put on the most mundane things like the car door jams, and I just like Google like my make and model and like how to fix it and someone has this whole video of like how to take your car door apart. YouTube is amazing. So how did you learn to cook? I was taught by my nanny, my mother didn't cook actually, she still doesn'tUnknown:
And then I was inspired by my grandmother's both of whom didn't live with us. But whenever they came to visit, they would just cook. All they did was cook. And so I was inspired by them. I learned from them a little bit. But I really learned by going to culinary school, I did go to culinary school, and I learned on the job and restaurants, I worked in catering and all that stuff. So what's the time frame of that? Like, when did you start your YouTube channel, I guess I started the YouTube channel while I was in culinary school. That's a good plan, like get it, get it going while you're learning still. Exactly. And I had so much more time because as you know, once you're in the restaurant industry, you no longer have time to be starting a YouTube channel on this 100%. And so I had time and I was excited. I was learning so much. Culinary School was the best time of my life. And I had all this energy that like really needed to come out in some way, shape, or form. So it was perfect. And then I kept it up. Even as I was working already in restaurants. I kept it up, but not that much, you know, but I did it as a hobby whenever I had time. And I never really stopped even though I wasn't posting all that often. Was that the first thing you did, and the website came after? Because your website is also very comprehensive. Yeah, so the YouTube was the first step there. Yeah, the YouTube was the first step there. And I and I really should have started the website sooner, but I really didn't, I didn't realize the potential and the utility of a website back then. And then, at some point, I needed a place to have written recipe somewhere. And my first videos, I had no recipe, so I put all the ingredients and their amounts in the video. But if you were to make it, you'd have to like take notes. Which, you know, I didn't think about it at the time, but I thought it was fine. But then people were like, You should have these written down somewhere. So I was like, Okay, I need a place to put these down somewhere. And so I started writing them down on the website. And then over time, as I realized how much you know, more comprehensive a recipe post can be rather than just the recipe, you can give background stories and tips and like substitutions and all that. So I started writing more comprehensive posts. So the website is what it is today. Are all your original videos still there? Because I know when you first start creating content, sometimes it's a little cringe worthy, and you go back like and you want to delete Have you deleted or as all as all your stuffs still there. It's all still there, except for maybe the first few that are just too embarrassing. I can't handle they're still up there. But it's private it because I you know, I want to have it there just for myself. But the vast majority, I think except for the first two or three only everything else is still there. Having a podcast was the same like I you know, I don't have a background in this. I'm a chef as well. And, you know, people say like, oh, I started listening your podcast, I started from the beginning. I'm like, don't start from the beginning, like start from now, and work back because you're gonna hit a period where you're like, the audio quality isn't great. The interviewing isn't great. But I still have my podcast episodes up there. And I just hope that people realize that the quality has improved drastically in the years that I've been doing this. Yeah. And I think it's interesting for the viewers to when they watch your first one or see, listen to your first one. And they watch it now and they see you well, they have really improved. And I think that's, that's great for the viewers. So your videos and content in general seem like you're demystifying Thai cooking and kind of making it seem more approachable, right is, is that why you just kind of wanted to help people get a handle on how to do this. So when I came to North America, I came to Canada first and then I moved to the US for a few years. But during that time, I realized what a mystery Thai food is to most people, like most people have a Thai restaurant that they go to. But they wouldn't know where to begin to make any of those things, what the ingredients were to go get the ingredients what to do with them, how to choose them. And the more I talked to people, the more I realized, like, people really have no idea and I felt like as somebody who's who's, who loves to teach and who love to cook. It just felt to me like it was something I needed to do to clarify, just to put it out into the world. And not to mention when I came here, I started going to Thai restaurants. And I realized that the food that they were serving in restaurants weren't like food that they were serving at home in Thailand. They had been modified and changed and like to make it more. I don't know what the term is to make it more I guess, familiar to the American customers or nothing was too weird or too bizarre and, and then I thought, people also don't really know what real Thai food is, if this is their reference point, this isn't really what we eat at home. So I felt like it was a personal mission to show people what Thai food is really like. And I'm happy to say that I think there are more restaurants that have have changed that over the years, like back then I couldn't find really any food that I would say, oh, yeah, this is exactly like home. But now there are more and more restaurants that are becoming a little bit more bold and like, Okay, well, let's give them the real stuff. And see what people think. And people love it. They always love it. I think, you know, I think sometimes we underestimate the, the American palate, right? Like they can really a lot of adventurous eaters, nowadays, they want the real stuff, they want the authentic stuff, and people can handle it. I'm always surprised that kinds of things people are making and loving. Absolutely. And I think authentic is kind of a tricky term. But I do think that we have Americanized, you know, a great example is Chinese food. I don't think people ever really had like real Chinese food, they like Chinese American food, but like growing up, the stuff that I ate going to Chinese restaurants, I don't think is what you would eat in a traditional Chinese home. And you just see that across the board with all these different cuisines. But you know, people, they impose that on themselves impose that on their children, my wife and I, we have kids, and we were traveling to the UK last fall. And I remember asking people like, oh, where's a good, you know, restaurant for this or that? And they said, Well, you've got kids, like, there's a Shake Shack over there. It's like, I came here from like, the US, like, I'm not going to Shake Shack, like my kids are 10. Like, they can handle real food and authentic food. Like, I want to go get that and that, you know, but I think sometimes we kind of put that on people like, Oh, they're not gonna like the real Thai food or cooking. Yes. And I sympathize with the Thai restaurant owners, and I don't criticize them at all. Because when they first when Thai people first came, there were very, very few things that they were able to do for a living because they didn't speak English. And opening a Thai restaurant was one of the obvious things, okay, we know this stuff. But these weren't chefs who are necessarily like passionate about food, their mission wasn't to spread the word about Thai cuisine, they were just trying to make a living. And they didn't have all the ingredients that they needed. So they have to make substitutions and all of that, and they were just trying to make it work. And, and then it just kind of stuck, right. Like, even though now we have more adventurous clientele, we have all these ingredients that are available. But the tradition is that well, this is the way we've been making peptides all these years. And people like it, let's just stick with it. So there's a little bit of like a stickiness to that. Which is why I think it takes a new generation of chefs to really like make that leap. But I, you know, I don't want to sound like I'm criticizing Thai restaurants that aren't serving traditional food, I totally understand where they're coming from. And it's totally sensible. But I think there's room now to go the other direction as well. Yeah, and some of those dishes are great, and they become their own thing. And the same way that we have a Italian American, you know, we have these very, like pasta, red sauce joints. And that's not maybe how it was done in Italy, but it's become such a part of our culture that it becomes its own cuisine, you know?Chris Spear:
How do you decide what videos you're going to do? And when because I know you have a lot of very, some are very basic, like how to best cook rice, how to buy a rice cooker, versus getting into like a really in depth recipe. Did you kind of have like, a bullet list of like, these are the ones I really think are important to approach or is it based on feedback, like people saying, hey, I really don't know how to cook rice.Pailin:
So a little bit of both in the very beginning, I did all the famous dishes, like I did all the dishes that people would be looking for. So the green curry and the papaya salad and tomyam soup and all of that stuff. But once that list had been depleted, then I went into a I'm going to make whatever I like. So there was a period of that just whatever I like whatever food that I like, because I felt that you know, I'm a Thai person. If I like this, then this is good enough for the public. You know, this is exactly the kind of thing I want to show people, interesting dishes you've never seen before. But hey, this is Thai food. And then as the audience grew, I started getting a lot of questions. Then they started making videos that answered those questions like ingredient deep dives about coconut milk, how to cook rice, which is something that as a Thai person you thought was very basic and that you did not need to explain to people I was wrong about that you do need to explain to peopleChris Spear:
And it's actually a lot more complicated than you've been getting. I will just say I didn't grow up eating rice at all, like ever. I grew up in Massachusetts, like, I don't remember we're a potatoes family. I have like never in my life like rinsed rice washed it soaked it, any of that stuff. And you know, now it's like whether you're looking at a Mexican recipe or a Filipino or a Thai, there's all these things about rinsing your rice soaking your rice. And it's just funny because, again, I'm sure you probably expected everyone knew to do that. I don't think I've rinsed my rice until I was like probably almost 40 years old. Wow. See, like, all these things I'm learning. And it's the same way. Like if you asked me how to cook spaghetti, you know, 20 years ago, I'd be like, I don't know. It's just there's no instructions on the bag. For most of that, you know, just says take one cup of rice and add two cups of water and bring to a simmer. Like it doesn't talk about the process involved. And packaging instructions are the worst, especially apt for Asian ingredients. Do not believe them look up a reliable source on the internet. I have seen so many just I don't know if like they just think they just need to write something to have something there. Nobody ever tested these instructions. It's like, No, I find the water to Rice ratio is so drastically different on all of them. And not just with whether it's like a long grain short grain Jasmine. But just like in general, it could be the same type with different brands. It's like am I using one and a half cups water to one cup rice or two cups water. And I think you just have to find a brand that you know you like and works and then figure that out and then just stick to it. That's kind of what I like to do. And your preference to like some people like wetter rice, some people like dry or rice. So that is something that you'll have to adjust as well. And a lot of people don't realize that like they will make rice and they're like, your rice is so dry. And they don't realize that the rice that they like is really wet by other people's standards. You know? What are some common misconceptions about Thai food that you hear a lot of? Oh, good, I get there.Pailin:
So it's interesting you asked this question because the when I first came, I had no idea what people thought about Thai food. And over over the years, I started to notice that a lot of non Thai restaurants will have Thai something Thai salad, a Thai pizza, or you know, like a Thai wrap, or something. And I'm just like, I don't understand what is Thai about this, but I have come to a bullet point of lists that what it is that people will do and then call it type. One is peanuts, which is completely astounding to me because we don't actually use peanuts that much in Thailand, it just happens to be one of the only two nuts that we have. So wherever you would put nuts it would either be peanuts or cashews. So it shows up more like unlike here you got almonds and walnuts and be like all sorts of nuts. Like we don't have that variety. So So peanuts show up as like the only nut. But it's it's not at all a major part of our cuisine. But here it's like if you're gonna make a Thai something, you better put some peanut on Pad Thai is like probably the gateway dish that everyone's had. And those are they have a Thai peanut sauce right, which is like peanut butter and you know, so I think that's probably where that comes from. Oh my god and don't get me started on the peanut sauce. We don't have a peanut sauce. Okay. We don't even have peanut butter. Peanut butter is not a thing that exists in Thailand. We never grind peanuts into that consistency. You just blew my mind right now. What we have is satay sauce. So we have a sauce that goes with our satay, which is always pork, not chicken, pork satay, and it comes with a sauce that's made with ground up peanuts. That is the only peanut sauce that we have, but somehow, because satay is a popular dish in Thai restaurants, somehow that gets translated to a Thai peanut sauce that people can bottle and put on shelves and put on everything. But like you go to Thailand. 99% of the things you eat are not going to have any type of peanut sauce on it. Interesting. Yeah. You know, there's 100 recipes. It's like peanut butter, lime juice, you know, whatever. Maybe a little rice wine vinegar and there some dry chili flake. And there you go. You have Thai peanut sauce. We don't use rice wine vinegar. We've all seen those recipes, though. I know exactly what and how about spice. I think you know, a lot of people think that it's all spicy and I hear from people like I don't eat food like that because it's too spicy for me, but it's not all spicy and No, it's not all spicy. And spice is something that you can modify. Right? Like there are many Thai people that don't like eat food. That's super spicy. I'm one of them. Like compared to Thai people, my spice tolerance is on the low side. Yes, there are many, many spicy dishes, but also so many that are not. And if you reduce the spiciness of a dish, in no way, are you making that dish wrong or inauthentic or anything like there's, there's, I mean, we have kids in our country, our kids can eat spicy food, right? And so that is something that develops over time. So we've got to have some foods to satisfy them too. And I think curry is one of those weird words like people who don't eat it, whether it be Thai or Indian, like I've had relatives who just say like, I don't like curry. Curry. It's such a generic term, like how do you use the term like what is curry mean and Thai cuisine. So curry, in Thai cuisine, I think is very different from what most people imagine a curry is. First of all, there are many of our curries that doesn't actually contain the dry spices that that people associate with curry. There's no curry powder. There's nothing. Most of our curries are made from fresh herbs that are ground up into a paste. Some of them have some dry spices, but the spices are not the main ingredient. And so in Thai cuisine, the word curry refers to dishes that are made using curry paste as the main source of flavor. And curry paste is nothing more than just ground up herbs and spices as I said, and then usually we will use coconut milk as a liquid. But we also have curries that don't use any coconut milk, but they use water as a liquid and it will become a lot lighter. A lot. soupier Thai curries are not like Indian curry where it's not thick. It can be very light and thin. And usually, texturally it would look more like a soup than a stew. I think a lot of people when they think curry, what they're talking about is the flavor of curry powder. Like like like Indian like Indian curry powder. Yeah. Yeah. Or the generic curry powder that like if you go into a Safeway or a Walmart and you grab a thing labeled as curry powder, heavy on tumeric. And you know, very, like that yellow powder. Yeah, that yellow powder. Right. And I think people associate that with curry. Even if you make Indian curry like they, there's a huge range of flavors from Indian curry that you can't really just put one flavor to it either. But I think that in the West, that is what they're thinking of when they are thinking of curry flavor. Well, I think sometimes people need a reference point. And that's where you kind of go down this path because you're trying to describe something, I think that's why we use the term like, it's a Thai taco or, you know, it's high, whatever. Because it's easier than saying, Well, it's a taco with peanuts and lime and, and whatever. So we just like pick a generic, like people say, Oh, this is a Vietnamese, whatever. And they'll just, it just means it's got fish sauce and lime and whatever. But it's not really Vietnamese, you know? Yeah, I know. I know exactly what you mean. People are trying to give some sort of an easy description. Yeah, it's hard when people aren't really familiar with those cuisines. So it's kind of a double edged sword there because you don't want to miss describe the dish. But how do you convey that to people who maybe don't know? Well, I'd love to talk about your new cookbook a little bit. Because I've got the book. It looks great. I think people are going to really love this. How does this book differ from your previous cookbook? So my first cookbook Hot Thai kitchen, I had so much knowledge that I wanted to share that I couldn't share in the video form. Because in the video, each one is a recipe. Each one is small and bite size. But I wanted to expand on the foundational knowledge of Thai cuisine. It's like, what is the Thai curry? We talked about that, you know, what is a Thai stir fry? How does that differ from a Chinese stir fry? So there was a lot of like textbook key nerdy knowledge in my first book. And the recipes provided was I chose ones that really represented what a Thai curry is like and sort of broke them down into their components. So it was it was all very good if you want to like, really study Thai cuisine. My second book, I feel like what I was missing is a resource to help people cook Thai food easily and regularly. Like, you know, for my first book, it's like, that's a weekend project book. This one is a Tuesday night book. And I realized that I don't have that even though I have a lot of easy recipes on the website. There's no obvious way like you got to browse them. You got to look for a thing you got to seeUnknown:
See how difficult it is. So I wanted like a book where if you grab this off of a shelf, you can turn to any page, anything that catches your eye, I promise you, you can do it on a weeknight. So that's what I wanted this book to be is something that you can actually cook from without having to think too much about it. And I think fortunately, the availability of ingredients right now is amazing, you know, had this book come out 10 years or even earlier. It's like, great, but where do I get that? You know, I don't live in a huge city. But you know, we have a number of Asian grocery stores here and we have an h Mart, which is fantastic. And I don't think there's a single ingredient that I wouldn't be able to find in there. If someone wants to stock their pantry to make a lot of these dishes, if there were like five things that they should just go if they're going to an Asian grocery store and get what would those be? I will say that in my book, there's a section and I have two lists, lists that are like must haves if you want to cook Thai regularly and list that's like, nice to have, but it's not necessary. Okay, so on the must have unique fish sauce, which you can get like even at Walmart, I think like it's do you have a favorite fish sauce? Yes. And it's changed. So my favorite everyday fish sauce is now mega chef. Okay?Pailin:
But three crabs or red boat squid. Those are all fine choices. So fish sauce, you need soy sauce. If you can get Thai sauce, that's great because it's a little different, but if not the Kikkoman will work. You need oyster sauce of some sort. And then you need coconut milk and the fifth one, I would probably say Tamarin and how does that come? Are you talking like the bricks are like a jarred product you can do both the jarred product is easy to use. And it's if you're not going to like get super deep into Thai cooking, it's fine. But if you make your own tamarind paste from the break of pulp, it will taste better. Yeah, and it's absolutely not that's pretty and that's easy to do. Oh, it's totally easy to do like making Tamarin is something Thai people make. Like we don't even make it in bulk we make it whenever we're going to cook something with it, it's that easy, because all you need to do is soak it in some hot water, just plain water will work as well. And you just massage the pulp into the liquid that you just need to pump and water just pump and water. It's basically the tamarind, the cooking tamarind that we use is basically diluted Tamarin pulp. So when you're buying the jar, you're paying mostly for water. Oh, 100% you're paying for processing? Yeah, yeah. And then you might not use that jar, I'm sure that goes off quicker than having the pulp. So it just makes sense to buy a little Paul never goes bad. It's amazing because it's so acidic. So it lasts forever. And once you make it you can freeze, whatever you don't use into little ice cubes. And you can take it out a little bit at a time, I find one of the hardest products to find are lime leaves like that they're kind of hit or miss. And those are completely edible, right? You don't have to remove them or do you. So it depends. If you put them whole in a soup, which we often do. It's like a bayleaf it's too chewy. Okay, eat a whole leaf. But if you finally julienne them, you can totally eat it. Yeah, I haven't worked with them enough just a handful times, because it seems like that is the thing that I don't always have the easiest time finding, but I love it when they're in a ditch, the flavor is just amazing. Yeah. And if you've got a good climate, they grow pretty easily. A lot of people that follow me have told me that it's hard for them to find it. But they can source the plant or the seed. And it grows in like if you have a warm climate. Well, why this book, this is something I ask a lot of cookbook authors, I understand kind of your why but there's an enormous amount of cookbooks out there already. And of course blogs and YouTube. Did you find this book differs from other books out there? Or you know, your? Is it your point of view? You know, because I think it's challenging to write a book. So what actually made you say, this is something that's different, and I want to put it out in the world. And I want to do well from a personal standpoint. So I make content I make videos I make you to be it's a it's a fair question, why make one in a book form? And it was a question that I asked myself the first time because people when I did not have a book, people kept asking me Do you have a book? Do you have a book? And I was like, Why do you want a book? I'm already giving recipes out on YouTube, like what you know, what do you need, but I realized that it's very different. from the user perspective, it's a very different thing to hold a physical book in your hand and flip throughChris Spear:
through and get inspirations and read than to be on your phone or on your computer browsing through website. It's an entirely different experience. And people who are fans of the show want a thing that they can hold. So I realized then that okay, it's different for the users. But it's also different for me because things that I feel like the book really gave me freedom to write about whatever I want to write about, without worrying about how well it's going to perform. You know what I mean? Like I could ramble on about stories without war, is the video going to get too long or too boring, I can ramble on about all these romantic things that I want to talk about. That wouldn't work well, on the internet. And you're not penalized if someone skips a page on your YouTube, if you put a video out and someone doesn't watch it, you get penalized. And then they don't show your videos with this, if I'm bored with this page, and I flipped by, it doesn't hurt anything, right? Yeah. And I think people who are sitting down with a book are not in a rush, right? That you're on, when you're watching internet videos, it's like you want to find a video that is not wasting your time, right. So you're clicking through, you're sad, this is too long, you skip to something else. But when people are sitting down with a book that they've purchased, they've already made a decision, this is something they want to relax with. And even flipping a physical book back and forth, like I, a couple years ago decided I have so many cookbooks, I'm gonna start buying digital and have them on a tablet. But I find that I still don't use those books as much. It's not the same to like, kind of scan one page by one page on that tablet, I like to sit down with this, like physical book, I also think I don't know is that stuff gonna go away, you purchase all these digital books, and then what's going to happen in 1015 years, they're going to change the readers and the formats and we're not even gonna be able to access them anymore. So I'm kind of a hoarder in that sense of survivalists where it's like, I'm not gonna get rid of my books, my wife will say, but I know you have that on digital. I'm like, Yeah, but like, that's the same thing with like, CDs, I got rid of CDs. And now, the streaming platforms aren't carrying some of those albums anymore, and you can't listen to them. It's like, I wish I kept my CD. So that's why I still have all physical copies of most of my books. Yeah. And I think when ebooks came out, people were saying that the zip, this is the end of paper books, this is where we're going. And then here we are. People still want physical books, because they're not the they're totally different experiences, they are and talking about different experiences. In your book, you have QR codes in there, which I think is genius. You know, for those. I mean, people probably haven't seen the book yet, because it's not actually out. But there's like a QR code, you have like a salad roll, and then there's a code and you scan, and then it goes to your YouTube and it shows someone visually how to do it. I think that's such a genius idea. I've never seen that before. I actually had that in my first book. Also, I think I was one, which came on 2016. And I think I was one of the very first books that started doing that. But I had all these video content. And and the one thing that video does win over text is like showing a technique. Like you can write about it all you want. But sometimes unless you see it, you don't really understand unwrapping a salad roll is one of those things. Okay? So I thought, how can I like, tell people that there's something they can watch. And QR codes are great, because I can update the link, so they never break? Right? If I put a website URL, there's no way to copy and paste that URL from your book to your phone, you got to type it out. And then if that URL ever changes, it's toast, but I can go back and update the URL to make sure nothing ever breaks. So it's just brilliant. All around, I think more and more cookbooks are gonna start to have that. I do love that I was in a book this past year. And it was a book about chefs. And there were like 50 chefs in the book. And everyone's bio, in the back of the book, there was just a list of the 50 chefs with a QR code. And then it went to like their business, their website or their bio or whatever online which was really nice. So you could read more about that person. It's also great for content building because you quite possibly could have people buy your book who've never seen your videos or your YouTube and now you're sending them out to your YouTube so yeah, I thought that was really neat. I have never seen it used like this before. But yeah, the the visual aspect, I was just talking to someone. This week, I learned to butcher a pig's head by watching Chef Chris Cosentino did like an eight part YouTube series more than a decade ago, like you can have butchering books, but like reading how to like D bone, a whole pig's head. There's no way reading a book, you're going to be able to do that. But watching someone do that in actual video makes it so much easier. 100% Do you have any favorite entry recipes in this new book? Like if you're new to cooking Thai food, maybe haven't eaten it so much. Do you have like two or three recipes you maybe think people should start with? Yes.Pailin:
So as a general rule of thumb, starting with a curry or a soup is always a good idea. Because they go slowly, you can take your time, and you can taste and adjust to your heart's desire. If you do something like a stir fry, it's something that goes quickly. And it's something that like, it's harder to adjust, right? If it's too salty, not salty enough, it's harder to adjust soups and curries are much more forgiving. So I would say, a good starting curry is the red curry with pineapple and shrimp. So because red curry is a place that you can find anywhere, I mean, anywhere. And then shrimp, pineapple, like all of these are really basic things. So that's a dish you can make without going to an Asian grocery store, I still think you should go to an Asian grocery store, because the choices of curry paste is going to be better. If you're in a western store, generally, they'll just have the Thai Kitchen brand, which is very diluted in potency compared to a Thai brand. So like, if I have to use a Thai Kitchen I have to use like the whole jar. And then it's still not spicy enough to like add a bunch of stuff to it. You know, if you're if you're very sensitive to spice maybe that's a pace that you want to start with. But if you're ready to like you know, have some heat, go to your Asian grocery store and pick a brand that's not an English. Oh, that's so overwhelming. Like nothing is in English, just soy sauce for those people who know that there's or think that there's like two or three like Kiko mon or whatever. And then you go there, like I'm standing there. I love the serious eats website. And they quite often have like how to stock an Asian pantry. And it's like, here's their 10 favorite soy sauces. But I'm like looking at the phone and looking on the shelves like trying to look at the picture and the words because none of it's in English. And just trying to figure out like which one I'm gonna get. And then I figure like, probably any of them would be better than what I could get at like my local grocery store. Right, exactly, because that's a store catered towards Asian people. This is why one of my top performing videos is a video where he gave a tour of an Asian grocery store. And if you're new, I highly recommend going to my YouTube channel and watching that, because people are overwhelmed and I understand it. I've been there. You know, when when I try to cook Korean food, I go to H Mart it's like that's all very unfamiliar to me as well. So I understand the feeling. And I think that video will helpUnknown:
help you choose at least narrow down your options of what to get and what not to get. Yeah, when you see a whole aisle of you know vinegars or miso paste or something like that, you know, but again, I think if it's something that you like, you just get one and try another one the next time get a fish sauce, try it, it might not be to your taste, or it might not be your favorite getting another one the next time. Although something like a big bottle of fish sauce, sometimes take a while takes a while to work through. I'll give you a little tip. Okay, if you are really at a loss at a nation grocery store and you don't know which to choose, price is generally a good indicator of quality. And we're not talking about expensive of Asian ingredients are very cheap. But if you've got like a thing that $6 and a thing that's $4 the $6 one is probably better. So when in doubt, you can go with that. And also a lot of stores will hide smaller size bottles on the top shelf. So if you're thinking we're talking about fish sauce, being like a liter bottle, look up on the top shelf, sometimes the smaller bottles are there. Those are great tips. Yeah, like I went to buy some show yo not too long ago and you know, there's a whole bunch of them but then there's these bottles that are like wrapped in paper and they're like $9 A bottle instead of $3 A bottle so it's like I can't read any of this but I'm assuming that if I buy this like nice paper wrap bottle for $9 It's gonna be so much better yes 100% And is there anything better than Tom Yum on like a cold day when you're sick you know, like that. That's, that's my favorite. It just like opens everything up. You got some spice in there and that's one of my favorite dishes to get you know, even if I'm gonna get like a big curry after just to have some and share it with the family to start and actually we never talked about what recipes to actually do. So the we did talk about the red curry was shrimp but on the soup side, a tom yum is great. If you can get the herbs and you can get the herbs dried at many places as well. Dried herbs work well in soups. Tom yum is great, but Tom CA is another one that's really great for people who don't eat a lot of spicy because it's milder. It's got coconut milk so it's going to be richer. So that is actually like if when I used to do it In classes, I always had a tancock guy, which is a coconut chicken soup on the mix, because I know 100% of the time, people are going to love it. And it's such an easy to love dish. And a lot of times people are kind of blown away because it's a flavor combination that they have never had before the same herbs as Tom Yum, but just a little more creamy. Yeah, there's something nice about coconut milk based something you know, you have that body, because I'm not a huge soup eater for a meal like Ali soup, like a tom yam as a starter, but I don't feel like filled up. So that's why I like sometimes something that has like that heavy, Fatty, you know, coconut milk in there because it feels more substantial to me.Pailin:
So I want to talk about how to eat Thai food correctly, because I feel like that's something that you maybe have some feelings about. I know you've got a video on there. And I'm sure some of it is visual. I don't know that there's a lot of cuisines or cultures where I've had to, you know, kind of learn how to eat properly. Do you have some tips about what that means and how to eat Thai food properly. It's nice. So this is my latest video and I and I have never seen a video with more engagement in the comment section. So how to eat Thai food properly. First of all the utensils to use is a fork and a spoon. And the spoon is what you use to carry food into your mouth. Because we have a lot of sauces in Thai cuisine. Our rice is jasmine rice, they don't really stick together very well. So if you try to eat Thai food with a fork, you will have a hard time because things just don't stay on the fork very well. So the fork is there to really help push food onto the spoon. So that's the main thing. And then if you want to spear food with a fork, you can do that. But the main thing with the fork is its helps push things onto the spoon. Now, it is usually done family style, which means that most of the dishes are in the in the middle and you're sharing. And everybody starts with a plate of rice. All of Thai food is eaten with rice, even soups, even salad. Are you curries are you stir fries, the flavors are super strong. If you don't have a plate of rice to go with it, it's it's too much. It doesn't work. It's like having, you know, just the pasta sauce without the pasta. Basically. That's what what kind of rice is this jasmine rice? Oh, always Jasmine? Yes. And I always tell people, This is not a buffet, you do not load your plate with everything that you want from the middle, and then start eating which, you know, it's funny because coming to North America, I see all these things that I would never think about. So I start having Thai meals with friends. And they would load their plate because at a Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, that's what you do, right? If you're sharing something, you compose your plate with everything that you want, and then you start eating, but not in Thailand. And I think in Southeast Asia as well, you take a little bit of a couple of things, you finish it, you go back for more. And we do this. So to make sure that everyone has gotten a little bit of everything, so you don't take too much. And then you also never end up with more food than you can eat, you're not going to end up with that Thanksgiving coma at the end, because you're literally taking three bites of something at a time. In Thailand, the only time we sit down with our own plate of food is if you're having noodle dishes or rice dishes. So for example, pepti is not something you share with people. They're like the sandwiches of our cuisine is something you have for lunch and when you're by yourself or when you're with your colleagues, and you just want to get in and out quickly. Like we go for pot Thai Potsie you fried rice, something like that, like those are complete meals in a dish. But if you're having dinner with your family, lunch with your family and you sort of like a quote unquote regular meal with your family, it's always family style. Do you eat with chopsticks at all? No, we know chopsticks. I've seen chopsticks at Thai restaurants before I know and you know why they give it because people ask for it. Because you will ask for it because they think that chopsticks are like an Asian thing. Top six just doesn't work with Thai food. It's the way we serve it. We serve rice on a plate. If you try to eat Thai food rice on a plate with chopsticks, you're gonna have a very hard time. Okay? Chinese people Japanese people can eat rice with chopsticks because their rice comes into a bowl. And they use a chopsticks to sweep things into their mouth. Right? It's a very different thing. That very different experience. And we use chopsticks sometimes for noodles. There are a lot of people of Chinese descent in Thailand. So a lot of them will like to eat noodles with chopsticks, which is fine but for rice never.Chris Spear:
And I imagine there's like I mean curries, right like brothy soupy kind of stuff. There's no way that that translates. There's no way there's no way. And I and I think also, like, people don't understand that. When I say this is eaten with rice, I'm not saying the rice is a side dish, and you'll have a bite of curry followed by a bite of rice, the curry and the rice come together in one bite. So that's why we need a spoon. If people don't get anything else from this episode, hopefully it will be how to eat it properly. And I do tons of links and show notes. So I'll link that video up specifically so that people can check that out. Because I think it's also a visual that they would appreciate. Yes, yes, totally. So so many of my listeners are content creators. And I want to talk a little bit about the YouTube channel, kind of specifics, because you have a enormous following, you know, more than most you're probably in, you know, like the top 5%. If not 1% of subscribers, you have almost 2 million subscribers. What was that trajectory? Like? Did you start off? And it's been kind of a slow build, was there some viral content? How did you get to be that huge on YouTube, I have been doing YouTube since 2009, that's a very long time. Slow build is exactly what that is. And I want this to be encouraging to people is a lot, you see a lot ofPailin:
newcomers who just explode onto the scene, you know, suddenly, you've never heard of them before. And suddenly, they're got like 2 million subscribers. And that can happen. But there are also a lot of channels who are successful because of slow and steady growth. And in fact, I would argue that if you can manage slow and steady growth, you will be more stable. Because if people find you from one piece of content that went viral, they may not come back, you know, they may not come back again. Because you and we see this a lot with short form content now short, you know, video 100%, or YouTube shorts will get 5 million views. And those views don't return. Oh, yeah, I have shorts that are like, I'll have like 500 or 800. And then one will be like 12,000. And then the next one's like 1000 or 700. It's like people came because of this one clip because something was maybe controversial or something and then the comments blew off and, and then you kind of lose that traction. Yeah. But if you build a channel, that is, has a solid foundation of resources. So like, for example, if people come to my channel, if you're looking for Thai dish, you're going to find it unless it's some obscure thing. Like if you're looking something on your Thai restaurant menu, you're going to find something at least similar to that. So if you build a solid foundation of resources that answers the questions that people are coming to you for whatever cuisine or kind of food you specialize in. But that foundation of resources have to build over time. Right? So it takes time it takes patience. But But keeping, I think it's always helpful to keep in mind to think about the viewers, what problems can you help them solve? What questions might they have? And then try to answer that questions, try to have an answer for as many questions as you can possibly do. And then over time, you will become again, stable and solid. And people can keep coming back. Because that's what you want people coming back to you, because they have come to trust you as an authority and as a reference. And I think if you're engaging with your community, you have a pretty firm handle on what they're looking for. And if you are the type of person who responds to comments, and people know that, then it's easy, because people will say to you, but how do you cook rice? Or what's the best walk to buy or whatever? And hopefully, you're getting that info, where you're then you know what content to create, because people are specifically asking for that? Yeah, for sure. Do you have any final words for our listeners today? Before we get out of here, anything that we haven't addressed? I'm sure we could talk all day about Thai food and cooking and so forth. But is there anything that you really want to share before we leave? I think if we're speaking to content creators, because I think even if you're not a content creator for a living, if you're a private chef or whatever, Chef, you probably have some sort of a social media channel. I think my, my final word would be done is better than perfect. I just came back from a conference, a food bloggers conference, I met a lot of food bloggers who are thinking about having a YouTube channel, but they're trying to figure out what is the best thing to do, what is the best angle and how to and I think the best way to figure out what to do is to do it. And if it goes terribly wrong, you can always delete the video. You don't have to post it. Or you can post it if it doesn't do well and you're embarrassed about it. You can always take it back but the only way to know is to put it out there and I think I wasChris Spear:
blast when I started my YouTube channel, there weren't a lot out there. So I didn't have anything to compare myself to. And I didn't think twice about it. Like, I literally thought, oh, I can do this now. Great, do it. Let's do it. And I think it's much harder to do these days, because you've got so many points of comparison. But if you can pretend that you're in your own world and just post whatever you want, you will get there much faster. And if we get a little thick skin, because people love to come in the comments and comment on what you're doing, trust me, it is not easy. Any YouTuber who says comments don't get to them is not telling you the truth. But they've just learned to let it go much quicker. So I remember early, early in my career, I used to get, like a negative comment would like hang with me for like a whole day, you know, but now I've learned to see the humor in it, I've learned to realize that I don't necessarily understand what people are going through. And so there might be a lot of hurt a lot of stress that they're taking out on the world. And now a comment will get to me for you know, a couple of minutes, and then I can shake it off. But that took a lot to get to this point. So if it's taking you a little bit more like know that that's normal, but work towards it, and know that it's never about you. And comments equal engagement and engagement pumps you up a little bit. So, you know, I try and take a light hearted approach to it and try and be funny in my responses because, you know, it is what it is I did a video the other day and I talked about washing mushrooms, which apparently is really controversial because I washed my mushrooms because they were super dirty. And then I spotted them dry in a salad spinner. And all these people came and said, you don't wash your mushrooms, they're gonna be really wet. And I said like, here's an experiment and Harold McGee talks about this, like weigh your mushrooms, then wash your mushrooms, dry them, weigh them again and tell me how much heavier they are. Because I can almost guarantee you there's no like water absorption, like if you're just running water over them. But like all these chef bros came for me in the comments about how like, I'm just gonna have water mushrooms, and they're not gonna say tan brown. Literally, there's a video of them being like super Brown, and golden. So it wasn't that they steamed but everyone wanted to argue about it. But it's like, keep arguing about it in the comments, because it's just making this become one of my most like, viewed videos this week. So Have at it, you know, and just so you know, I am a mushroom washer, too. Yes, they're so dirt. They're so dirty. I mean, I get some of these and they're covered, especially if you buy the ones on the package. Like if you're buying them in bulk and loose, I feel like they're cleaned up a little bit. But when you get the, like containers of them, I take them off and there's like dirt everywhere. It's like, I am definitely washing these at night. What are you gonna do sit there with a brush and brush them individually, like, no time for now. But people are funny like that. Everyone's got their opinions and especially when I'm sure with you like authentic cuisine and traditional cooking styles. I'm sure there's tons of people who let's that's not how their grandmother did it, or whatever. And they feel they need to come and tell you that I'm sure right for sure. Which is why I always say comments are about the commenter not about you. Yes. Good. Good advice for everyone out there who's creating content. And I think that's probably almost everyone who listens to the show, even if it's just an Instagram page. Well, thanks again for coming on. I love the book. I can't wait to share this episode with everyone. Again, it'll be linked so people hopefully go buy your book. And then they can find you on all your channels and learn to be a better tie cook. Thank you so much for having me. This is great fun. And as always, this has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. Thanks so much and have a great week. Go to chefs without restaurants.org To find our Facebook group, mailing list and Chef database. The community is free to join. You'll get gig opportunities, advice on building and growing your business and you'll never miss an episode of our podcast. Have a great week.