If you’re thinking about preparing some Thai meals at home, learning about proper Thai cooking techniques and common herbs and spices will help you prepare for your endeavor.
Herbs and Spices
A wide range of herbs and spices are used in Thai cooking. Some of the more common ones include:
• Bai horapa (Thai basil): sweeter than basil commonly used in western dishes, the majority of this plant, including the stem and leaves, is tossed into many stir fries, salads, curries and soups.
• Magrood (kaffir lime): both the leaves and rind of the kaffir lime are used extensively in Thai meals. The rind is used in the creation of red curry paste, and the leaves are commonly shredded and added to soups and curries before serving.
• Prik kee noo (Thai chilies): these small chili peppers are very spicy, and you’ll find them regularly used as both ingredients for spicy curries and table condiments.
• Sa ra nae (mint): this spearmint is used primarily to accent seafood dishes and is frequently eaten raw.
• Tamarind: the seeds of the tamarind tree are encased in a sweet dark brown flesh used to sweeten many Thai dishes, including many popular varieties of Pad Thai.
• Kha min (turmeric): a member of the ginger root family, these are often ground into a powder used in curries.
The most important cooking utensil in a Thai kitchen is the wok. These large, curved pans are used in combination with a long-handled ladle or spatula to create stir fried, steamed, deep fried and stewed dishes. The long-handled ladle or spatula allows you to stir and toss ingredients without exposing your hands and arms to heat. You can find woks for a variety of uses made from cast iron, steel and aluminum.
Thai Cooking Techniques
Thai meals are generally prepared in one of the following manners:
• Pad (stir frying): a simple method of combining all ingredients into a wok and cooking for a short duration at a high temperature.
• Neung (steaming): steaming cooks ingredients over the vapors of a boiling liquid, a method normally used in fish and vegetable dishes.
• Tod (deep frying): deep frying is used to create items like Thai spring rolls and fried banana.
• Yang (grilling): normally reserved for meat, ingredients are cooked on a metal grate over a heat source. Meats are typically cooked openly, or wrapped in banana or pandan (screwpine) leaves.
The cuisine of various regions in Thailand differs significantly, and northern Thai cuisine is renowned both for its bold flavors and mouth-watering ingredients.