Typical meals in Thailand include rice, a soup, a curry, salad and some sort of stir-fried dish. Condiments will dress the table, including Thai fish sauce mixed with chopped chilies as well as fresh veggies such as tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions and long beans.
Paramount to Thai cooking is BASIL, which is used both as garnish and seasoning. Thai basil (horapa) is often added to dishes of fresh veggies and is much like sweet basil. Meanwhile Kaprow, known as holy basil, smells much like cloves and is used in spicy dishes. Another, lemon basil (manglak) is paler and has a lemony fragrance, great in soups and salads.
Ubiquitous in many dishes are the CHILIES. Many of the tiny red or green bird's-eye chilies (prik kee noo) are added to curries, soups and sauces (very hot!) while large ones (green, red or yellow), known as prik chee, are only mildly hot.
Also notable in the cooking are CARDAMOM seeds (luk grawan) used in the curries of the southern region as well as CHINESE GARLIC CHIVES (kui chai) which have a more – you guessed it – garlicky flavour and look like flat spring onions. JICAMA (known as bangkuang or yam bean) is a crunchy potato-like tuber that is eaten raw with a dip or cooked.
Other fascinating ingredients include KRACHAI, Chinese keys, which look like long worms in a clump. They have a mild flavour. PALM SUGAR (nam taan peep) comes in golden brown blocks made from the distilled juice of palm fruits (ie coconut). Maple syrup an molasses make good substitutes when this is called for.
Popular ingredients used in cooking include bamboo shoots, cilantro, cumin, dried shrimp, galangal, lemongrass, oyster sauce, turmeric and shrimp paste.
You'll encounter recipes calling for fresh COCONUT CREAM. Easy to do! Just grate the flesh of 1 coconut, add ? cup of water and kean a few times. Squeeze the mixture in your fist or strain with a cheese cloth.
Let's not forget the noodles, made from rice, wheat or mung bean flour. Four types dominate the Thai table: KWAYTIAOW (hofun) are wide and flat white noodles, RICE-STICK or vermicelli are the slender threads used often in soups while egg noodles are yellowish and frequently stir-fried. Last are the GLASS NOODLES, known as cellophane noodles, which are transparent and either served in soup-like concoctions or fried. .
QUICKBITE: A fork and spoon is usually used when eating in Thailand, except when eating noodles, where chopsticks may be offered. In the North, people will eat with their hands, using balls of rice to pick up food and sauce.
Source : http://thai-food.suite101.com (Author : June Chua)
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