Friday, September 16, 2016

The Road To Discovery: Tempted by Thai Food!

Thai food has a quixotic blend of salty, sweet, sour and spicy elements, so it is easily identifiable. Traditionally, recipes were stewed or baked but, as Chinese influences came into force, food also began to be stir-fried. Dishes are healthy, delicious, and nutritious, and these days are used in many luxury restaurants around the world. Let’s take a road of discovery into the history of Thai food, the main ingredients, and a delicious recipe you can try for yourself at home!
Photo source: Pixaby

History of Thai Food
Flavor, balance, and nutrition are all fundamental characteristics of Thai food. Fresh herbs are often used and fish sauce and rice are staples. Traditionally, Thai families were large and both children and adults would all help out when preparing a meal. Thai food has influences from Persia, Arabia, India and China too. The Chinese influences can be seen in the use of noodles, dumplings, and soy sauce and the Indian influences in dishes such as Masaman and green curries and seasonings such as cumin and coriander. Thai food is less spicy than Indian though and is balanced with fresh herbs including lemongrass and galangal. Before the 1600’s Thai food consisted of a lot of shrimp, river fish, and vegetables. It was only in the 17th century that chili was introduced. These facts lead us nicely on to the main ingredients you can expect to find in Thai cuisine. 

Main Ingredients
Rice is a staple ingredient in Thai cuisine. If you want to recreate authentic Thai dishes at home, you’ll need fresh and fragrance white rice brands in your pantry. Thai cuisine also uses sticky rice, predominantly in north and northeast Thailand. Other must-have ingredients you’ll need to shop for include fish sauce, chilies, coconut milk, palm sugar, and curry paste. Fish sauce is known as nam pla in Thailand and is made up of anchovies, salt, and water. Use sparingly in recipes but certainly, add it or delicious subtle flavor. Curry paste can be made fresh, but it’s easier to buy red or green paste off the shelf. Coconut milk is a must for all Thai curries as are fresh and dried chilies, limes, and fresh herbs. As for herbs, stock up on cilantro, lemongrass, Thai basil, Kaffir lime leaves, and mint. And then, of course, lots of healthy vegetables. The ingredients of Thai food offer explosive contrasts. But when combined and cooked well, they balance out to create a astronomical delight. 
Photo source: Flickr

A Delicious Recipe To Try
To get you started on your journey of Thai cuisine here’s a quick and easy spicy Thai coconut chicken soup recipe you can make. It’s warming, fragrant and filling. And it uses lots of my favorite Thai ingredients.

For this recipe you’ll need:
Sliced/shredded chicken
4 cups chicken broth
3 lemongrass stalks
1 lime juiced
400 ml coconut milk
6 kaffir lime leaves
3 tbsp fish sauce
4 cloves of garlic and one ginger roots shaved
fresh mint
fresh cilantro
2 red or green chilies
2 tsp red or green curry paste
Stir lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chicken broth in a pan on medium heat until it boils. Then leave to simmer for half an hour. Afterwards, strain and discard the solids. Cook chicken for 5 minutes on medium heat. Then add curry paste, lime juice, and fish sauce. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Then simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Serve in Thai style bowls and top with cilantro, mint kaffir leaves, and chilies.

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