Thai cuisine uses ingredients that are commonly known in the Western world.
Knowing how Thai recipes prepare these foods can give us more of an appreciation for Thai cuisine.
The use of Bamboo Shoots in many Thai recipes requires them to be peeled to get to the white inner stalks and then boil them for 30 minutes in water. If using canned bamboo shoots they only need to be boiled for 10 minutes. There is no need for boiling them if they are part or if they are part of a soup or curry dish.
There are three varieties of basil used in Thai recipes. They are Sweet, Holy, and Lemon Basil.
If you use basil in your cooking, it is most likely sweet basil as that is the most commonly sold in the local markets.
Holy basil has a spicier flavor and has slightly purple leaves.
Lemon basil as you might have guessed, has a lemony flavor and also has a distinct lemony scent.
If you can’t find Lemon basil at your local market, you can use sweet basil and add some lemon rind.
Bergamot is a small tree with long, oval green leaves and white flowers. The small tree originates in Asia but can be found in Italy, Morocco and the Ivory Coast.
The tree bears small round fruit that is yellow when ripe. The preparation of some Thai dishes use the rind or zest of the fruit.
It is hard to find this small fruit in local U.S. markets (possibly in an Asian market). Therefore, grated lime zest can be used, though it can be a poor substitute.
Lots of Thai recipes use Chili paste, which is used for adding spice and flavor to the dish.
A popular version by Thai cooks is burnt mild chili paste. You can buy the chili paste in bottles or tubes at almost any market in the Asian food section.
Coconut milk can be bought in cans almost anywhere. If the recipe calls for coconut cream scoop, that would be the harder white substance that has formed at the top of the can.
If it is coconut milk that the recipe calls for, than just stir the can thoroughly before using.
While some people prefer to prepare their own curry pastes, many bottled curries are available at the supermarket. Most recipes use red, green or yellow curry.
Fish sauce is made from collecting the liquid off of fermenting salted fish, this pale, watery brown sauce is sometimes used to replace all the salt in recipes.
It is very flavorful and compliments all Thai food. Fish sauce is a very versatile sauce.
Galangal is used in many curries and soups. It is similar to ginger. Galangal is hard to find fresh, but can be purchased dried. You will need soaked dried galangal in water for 1 hour before using.
Thai garlic is a must when preparing a dish. Thai garlic should be available in Asian markets, but if not then the common garlic we see can also be used.
When using Thai garlic the smaller, tighter cloves are the best to use because they are more flavorful and will not be over powered by other herbs and spices used in the dish.
Ginger is used quite often. in modern cooking is easy to find, and ginger is extremely healthy and flavorful.
Lemongrass is one of the most commonly used ingredients in Thai cooking. It looks much like a small leek. The hard outer portion is removed, and the lower bulbous part is used.
The lemongrass is sliced into pieces and added to the food while cooking, and then removed before serving the dish, or it can be blended in a food processor before adding to the cooking process and then consumed with the dish giving it more flavor.
Palm sugar is used in some Thai recipes. If not available, dark brown sugar or real maple syrup can be used.
Rice is a main staple for the Thai people and they prefer long-grain white Jasmine rice which is flavorful and aromatic rice that cools and compliments spicy Thai dishes.
Rice paper is used to make fresh Thai spring rolls, which are prepared with vegetables and meat if desired.
Sesame oil is the preferred oil to use in Thai cuisine. It’s a very flavorful oil and works well with Thai cooking.
Preparation and Cooking Techniques
The vegetables used in Thai cooking should be cut as finely as possible.
The idea behind the thin cut vegetable is that the smaller they are chopped, the less time they will need to be cooked, which retains most of the nutrients as possible.
Most of us have cooked a stir-fry before. This method requires a wok and oil. The vegetables cook fast when the oil and wok are hot and stirred constantly.
The vegetables should only be stir-fried for a couple of seconds so they remain crisp and brightly colored.
Mortar and Pestles are used in making sauces, and curry pastes.
Anyone who loves Thai food and is animate about cooking it needs a mortar and pestle in their kitchen.
The mortar should be preferably made out of clay or wood.
What Others are Saying About Thai food: