Thai food is flavorful and fragrant. Some of the meals can be fiery hot and contain plenty of chilies but there will still be an underlying softness and delicate flavor. To master this style of cooking, you will need to learn about the balance between salty, spicy, sweet and sour tastes.
Thai food features fresh spices, herbs, and nothing too heavy. This cuisine offers a light, clean, and very fresh flavor, which is why it is so unique and very popular. Most Thai recipes are simple to prepare and just call for a wok, a handful of fresh herbs and some meat, fish or vegetables. Always use fresh ingredients and slice your meat thinly so it soaks up plenty of flavor.
A Closer Look At Curries
There are four basic curries in this cuisine and they are green, red, massaman, and panang. You can make your own curry pastes using a flavorless oil with spices. Blend the paste in a food processor and freeze or refrigerate it.
Thai curries are usually served with jasmine rice. Cook three tablespoons of your preferred curry paste in a very hot wok with the thick part of some coconut milk, and then thin the sauce with thin coconut milk. Coconut milk is used a lot in the south of Thailand as the liquid in curry recipes and you can store it on the shelf or in the refrigerator. If you refrigerate it, the milk will separate. You can them use the thicker part to fry your curry paste in the wok and the runny part to thin the sauce afterwards.
You will need a wok for successful Thai cooking because vegetables and other ingredients must be cooked over a very high heat very fast. You should first heat up the wok and wait for it to smoke, then add the oil. This is different from western cooking when you add the fat and then warm the pan up.
Key Thai Ingredients
One of the most distinctive tastes in this cuisine has to be lemongrass. This fresh-tasting plant can be chopped coarsely to add flavor to fish or chicken or thinly sliced for stir fries. Cut the end off of the stalk and peel three layers off before you chop it. Kaffir lime leaves have a leathery feel and they will brighten up your recipes. You can freeze these and thaw them on the countertop just before you use them.
Bird’s eye chilies are tiny but do not let their diminutive size fool you because they are very spicy! In fact you should wear rubber gloves to handle them because they can burn your skin. Galangal looks a bit like ginger but it is not as strong. Never use ginger instead because the two plants have very different flavors. Thai basil does not taste like Italian basil – it tastes more like anise.
Fish sauce is made from fish which has been fermented for a year and a half or more. It is often used instead of salt in Thai recipes. Try to buy good quality fish sauce which has been made in Thailand. You can store it in the pantry for a year and a half. Bear in mind that a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly.