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Thai national cuisine

12 of June 2009

Geographically Thailand is at the crossroads of Asia so it is hardly surprising that other Eastern cultures have played a role in the development of the national cuisine. The Thais is blessed with a country free of a colonial past so what influences there have been have occurred slowly, naturally and as a matter of choice and have not detracted in any way from the distinctive and unique traditional flavours.

Popularity of Thai food has been phenomental and in high streets throughout the world more and more restaurants, ranging from small family style eateries to large, opulent establishments, have neen opening their doors to introduce this very special spicy-salty-sour-sweet cuisine through such gastronomic delights as Tom Yam Kung (hot and sour prawn soup), Tab Tim Krob (water chestnuts in coconut syrup) and Yam Pla Duk Full (deep fried catfish with mango sauce).

Thai food seems to be that it must be chilli hot. Certainly, there are some dishes eaten with great gusto by the local people wich may well cause unsuspecting first timers to momentarily gasp for air but generally the cooking technique is all about balance; a balance of spices, herbs, roots and leaves, carefully blended to enhance the natural flavours and textures of the main ingredients.

Beside the qualities of pleasing appearance and excellent teste, Thai food is also light and nutritious, as diametrically opposed to junk food as it is possible to be and, as much, is very much a food of the present time; a time when the benefits of a more healthy diet are being universally acknowledged.

Here is how to cook the most famous Thai sour soup:

Tom Yam Kung (Spicy Prawn Soup)tom_yam_kung

8 fresh king prawn
600 ml chicken stock
2 tomatoes, quartered
200 g oyster mushrooms, sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves, shredde
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped galangal
2 lemon grass stalks, crushed and cut into 3 cm long slices
1 teaspoon stir-fried chilli paste
4 fresh chillies (prik knee noo), finely sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
fish sauce to taste
fresh coriander leaves

Shell and de-vine the prawns, leaving the tails attached.

Bring the stock to a boil and add the tomato, mushrooms, lime leaves, galangal, and lemon grass.. Bring back to the boil, then add the prawns, reduce the heat and cook until the prawns are tender.

Add chilli paste, chilli, lime juice and fish sauce and stir well, then transfer to steamboat with the chimney filled with hot charcoal and garnish with fresh coriander.

Chillies, both fresh and dried, are widely used in Thai cooking. Quantities should be adjusted according to personal teste. Those most frequently used in the following recipes are:prik-chi-fa

  • Prik Khee Noo (small or birds eye)
  • Prick Chi Fa (medium to large)
  • Prik Khee Noo Haeng (small dried)
  • Prik Chi Fa Haeng (medium to large dried)
  • The Thai name (Prik) is the same for red and green chillies.