Focus in on the delights of the kitchen and the table with ...

Nong book cover

My friend Nongkran Daks is a chef and restaurateur whose cooking and culinary classes at her restaurant Thai Basil have won her dedicated fans, accolades, and great success in the Washington DC area for almost 20 years. Born in Southern Thailand, Nong began cooking to help in the family’s catering business when she was all of 8 years old; she made it her life’s work due to her love of the kitchen, of her cuisine, and of the food and hospitality business where feeding people well is how she anchors her day.

LD-Chef Nong-1

Her new cookbook, Nong’s Thai Kitchen: 84 Classic Recipes That Are Quick, Healthy, and Deliciousmade its debut into the publishing world on June 9th, and I am honored to have written the foreword for this handsomely produced, practical and delightful book. I met Nong and her husband Larry through our mutual Peace Corps connections; not in Thailand, but at events for the returned Peace Corps community in the Washington DC area. Nong met her husband during his Peace Corps service in Thailand, and they spent many years living overseas after Larry joined the the Foreign Service. Once they put down roots in Chantilly, Virginia, Nong opened Thai Basil restaurant and has been a chef and Thai culinary ambassador ever since.

I want to tell you more about the book and about my friend Nong soon, but for now, this is a Heads-Up! I’ll be joining Nong and her co-author, Alexandra Greeley for a joint book-signing event at Thai Basil Restaurant in Chantilly, Virginia (near Dulles) on Tuesday, June 16th! Nong is inviting her customers, friends, and anybody who loves Thailand and Thai food to come by to meet us, check out her book and my new Thai vegetarian book, Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking: 125 Real Thai Recipes, and enjoy some tasty samples from the books. We’d love to see you if you are in the area and can come by between 11 am and 8 pm on Tuesday 6/16/2015.

Click HERE for the link to our event in last week’s Washington Post FOOD section. I’ve cooked three dishes from Nong’s Thai Kitchen so far, and I loved each one. Here they are:


Nong’s Pad Thai, with which she triumphed over Bobby Flay in her famous performance on Throw-Down with Bobby Flay a few years back.

You can hear Nong’s recent conversation with Lynne Rosetto Kasper on The Splendid Table, in which Nong talks about making Thai curry pastes, which she’s been doing since age 7! Click HERE to listen in and see wonderful photos of Nong and some dishes in the book.


Nong’s Stir-Fried Greens, pad pak bung, which I made with watercress and spinach. This Thai-style vegetable dish makes lots of delicious, savory sauce for spooning over your plate of jasmine rice, along with the tender and healthful greens.

Here’s the #411 on our event:
Book signing of “Nong’s Thai Kitchen” by Nongkran Daks and Alexandra Greeley, as well as “Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking: 125 Real Thai Recipes” by Nancie McDermott. Samples of food from the books will also be available.
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 16
Admission free

This elegant little dish makes a perfect party food, ready in advance and a savory-tangy-sweet welcoming bite for guests while they settle in for a Thai feast at your home. Known as “Galloping Horses”, or ma haw in Thai, they are made with ground pork sauteed with cilantro, garlic and palm sugar, with ground peanuts stirred in and a garnish of cilantro leaves and red chili pepper. The sweetness of the pineapple paired with sweet-and-savory pork makes these a huge hit. They disappear speedy-quick.

For Nong’s pad Thai recipe as featured on the Food Network’s recipe website, Click HERE and get a taste of her culinary expertise. Do get Nong’s book (links below), and do come see us if you can at Thai Basil in Chantilly, Virginia  on Tuesday 6/16. (Chantilly is in the vicinity of Dulles Airport).

ORDER Nong’s Book using these links:


Powell’s Books


About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.

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