phuket magazine

phuket

advertising in phuket
phuket info
information about phuket
Logo
Follow Easy_Branches on Twitter
Foursquare Easy Branches
Herbs & Spices in Thai Cuisine
Written by Administrator    Monday, 22 March 2010 15:16    PDF Print E-mail


A Great Cuisine Relies on its Many Flavours

 

Herbs & Spices are the secret to the great variety of Thai cuisine



This part of the world is called
INDOCHINA - the meeting of influences from India and China - and it shows up in the varied dishes one meets when eating Thai


Thai cooking has borrowed from the Indian Subcontinent, from China and from the rest of Southeast Asia. But, as everyone who is at least familiar with Thai food knows, this cuisine is unique. There is some quality that is immediately identifiable as “that special Thai taste.” This derives from perhaps a dozen standard ingredients. Some of these have also been borrowed, but the quantities used and the ways in which they are blended together are what lends Thai food its distinctive character.


The most commonly used ingredients in Thai cooking are as follows:

Basil: The three types of basil used in Thai cooking are always used fresh as both a flavouring and a vegetable. They are Bai krapao, or holy       
basil, bai horapa, sweet basil and bai mangluk which is similar to Italian dwarf basil.


Chilli peppers: Both fresh and dried chillies are used extensively. Generally speaking, the smaller the chilli the hotter it will be.


Fish Sauce: Provides the cuisine with salt, it’s also a valuable sauce of protein and has a unique flavour.


Ginger: Always used fresh, not dried.


Coriander: The Thais use all of the coriander: seeds, leaves and roots. Everyone is familiar with the seeds, as they are a popular spice throughout the world. The leaves are not as popular, but their pungent taste is found in several cuisines.


Garlic: The Thais use garlic extensively. One of the varieties of garlic available has such a thin skin that it doesn’t need to be peeled before use. Many cooks chop a cup or two in a food processor or blender, mix it with a little oil, and store it in the refrigerator. When prepared this way it will keep for about a month.


Galangal: Ka (the Thai name) is a member of the ginger family that is sometimes referred to as 'galangal' in English. It is very popular in Thai cooking and is used in a variety of ways. The most famous dish using this herb is 'tom ka kai', a thick, creamy soup with delicate flavours in which coconut cream turns particularly aromatic under the influence of ka.


Shrimp paste: Kapi is an essential ingredient in Thai cooking. Everyone agrees that it smells horrible, but it tastes good when cooked. It is available pressed into little cakes or in small cans.


Kaffir lime: The fresh zest (skin) and leaves of this knobby wild lime are readily available in Thailand.


Tamarind:
The pulp obtained from the dried seed pod by soaking it in water is used to provide a tart flavour to many Thai dishes.


Lemon grass: Chopped into segments that are not actually eaten, the lighter coloured section of this plant is used to impart a delicate lemon flavour to many dishes.


Coconut Milk: This is made by soaking grated coconut meat in hot water and then squeezing out the liquid. It plays a significant role in curry dishes.