When we first heard Chrissy Teigen was coming out with a cookbook, we were pretty giddy. We've long been fans of the Sports Illustrated model's food blog, So Delushious and of course, her hysterical and hunger-inducing Instagram feed. And now, Cravings: Recipes For All the Food You Want to Eat is here at last. So, what makes this cookbook different from all the other celeb cookbooks? Well, this wasn't just a side project she threw her name on–her mission was to make this a 'real', credible cookbook with delicious recipes she loves and eats on the reg, and worked with recipe developer (and the book's co-author) Adeena Sussman and Top Chef Masters judge Francis Lam to perfect each and every one. From hubby John Legend's famous fried chicken wings with Cholula honey butter to her mom's Thai pork and rice porridge, it's certainly not lacking in variety or flavor. Not to mention, with her one-of-a-kind humor infused throughout (seriously, the photos don't disappoint) it's one of the first times we've laughed out loud while reading a cookbook.
So what can you expect in terms of the recipes? In Teigen's words: "If you're expecting a model to write a cookbook full of diet recipes for you to perfect your bikini bod, I think you'll be a little surprised here. These are recipes we love to indulge in with family and friends. Some more hearty than others, some even more hearty than the hearty ones. But every single recipe is something we love," she writes. "Look, I don't want to be one of those dead-inside laughing-with-a-salad chicks, and I don't want to seem like one of those annoying, 'I can eat anything I want anytime' chicks. It's just that I wanted to be honest in this book about the kinds of food I love, the kinds of food I crave. I just have to find ways to make those cravings work with my day job (e.g., sometimes with a well-timed "f*ck it")."
Here, we bring you an exclusive recipe excerpt from Cravings– a Thai dish of her mom's that (as you'll read below) Teigen is absolutely obsessed with.
Pounded Thai Papaya (or Green Bean) Salad
Total time: 20 minutes
This has ruined me for ALL. OTHER. PAPAYA SALADS. Mom can cook evvvvverything well, but man, she is a papaya salad ninja. Once requested, it’s on the table in three minutes and never fails to be perfect. When trying out a new Thai restaurant, I always order two things first: tom yum soup and papaya salad. If their tom yum or papaya salad sucks, the chances of anything else being good are slim to none. It’s a rule that’s always held true for me.
Made at least five times a week in my household (did you know an Asian Mom lives with us? It’s awesome), I live on this before shoots. We add WAY more chile, to the point where my face has a stroke and I can’t blink one eye or symmetrically smile, but I finish the entire plate. Serve it with steamed rice and roasted chicken or pork rinds. Seriously. They cut the heat but even if they didn’t, they’re pork rinds and pork rinds are awesome.
(Oh, and by the way, unless you have a Thai Town lying around, green papaya can be tricky to find, but fear not—this is equally good with green beans or even shredded cucumber.)
1 lime, halved
1 large jalapeño pepper (pretty hot) or 3 fresh Thai chiles (really hot)
1 dried red Thai chile (optional)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons palm, raw, or light brown sugar
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 pound green papaya or
1 pound green beans
3 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts (optional)
Cooked sticky or jasmine rice, for serving
Large mortar and pestle (or you can fake it; see recipe)
Cut one-half of the lime into small wedges and place in a large mortar along with the fresh chiles (and dried chile, if using), garlic, and sugar. Crush with the pestle until the chiles are mashed and bruised but not totally pulverized and the sugar is dissolved. Add the tomatoes and pound a few times to bruise the tomatoes. (You can also accomplish this with a plain old bowl and a round-ended cocktail muddler. Or you can chop the garlic first and just mix and mash everything in a mixing bowl. Sorry, Mom.) Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime half (about 1 tablespoon) into the mortar and stir in the fish sauce.
If using green papaya, peel and seed it, then shred with a food processor or mandoline. If using green beans, trim them and cut into 2-inch lengths. You should have about 4 cups of papaya or beans.
Add the papaya or green beans to the mortar and mash and toss lightly. Divide the salad among bowls. If desired, top with the peanuts. Serve with rice.
The Thai Hotness
Thai bird chiles used to be super hard to find, but now you can buy them at Asian markets and even regular supermarkets. They are hot as hell. If you can’t find them, use serrano chiles.
Reprinted from Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat. Copyright © 2016 by Chrissy Teigen. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.