Thai cuisine is very popular around the world today. It speaks sophistication and color, light as well as spicy and plentiful but elegant. It is often thought of as exotic from its wide use of specific oriental herbs, spices and fruits. Kaffir lime, papaya, aromatic jasmine rice, coconut milk and lotus root are some of the ingredients that are frequently used.
However, it is a very open and adaptable cuisine which does not follow a set of rigid rules. By just knowing the basics of the cuisine, anyone has free reign to experiment however they wish, and can make some individually unique but still considered Thai dishes.
Thai cuisine is influenced by the surrounding countries of Thailand, namely Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Burma. No doubt there will be some similarities in meal preparation and ingredients from those neighboring countries.
* Preparation and layout
One basic component of Thai cooking is that the entire ingredients of a dish should be chopped and ready before starting the cooking process. Vegetables and meats are normally finely sliced, and all ingredients chopped small so as to cook quickly.
Thai food is usually served in many small dishes which can be shared by all present, with a staple bowl of jasmine rice for everyone. Thai food shows elegant abundance, in that it is common to find many relatively small plates with different dishes on them. There is usually always a wide variety of meals, soups and sauces to choose from at any time.
* Fresh herbs and spices
Thai cuisine prefers the use of fresh herbs. Some common herbs abundantly used in Thai food are an exclusive combination of cilantro, lemon grass, Thai sweet basil and mint.
Vegetable garnishes like cucumbers and carrots are often used to garnish dishes, adding to the array of colorful ingredients in addition to providing an appetizing presentation as well as serving a function to cool the mouth from any spicy dishes.
Jasmine rice is native to Thailand and is frequently consumed. It is commonly steam-cooked and serves as a staple all around Thailand as well as in many other Oriental countries. Rice is served with curries and other dishes. Rice noodles are popularly used for stir-fries.
Fish is a big part of Thai cuisine, and it is not surprising as Thailand is surrounded by water. Fish are used to maximum. Shrimp and anchovy pastes and pates are common, fish sauces are made from soaked fermented fish, and a wide variety of fish are used in Thai cuisine be they dried, preserved in pickles or fresh.
Fish sauce (known as nam pla) is used in most Thai dishes and acts as a sauce base, a basis for salad dressings and dips, as well as to add a taste of saltiness to any dish.
As Thai food is not a rigid cuisine with set rules, one can easily enter the wonderful world of Thai cuisine and experiment with the essentials of Thai cooking. As long as one has the basic Thai ingredients of various herbs and sauce mixes, it is possible to make one’s own salad dressing, sauce or curry.
If a meal which is being cooked is not to one’s liking, it can easily be altered to suit individual tastes, more fish sauce, lime juice as well as coconut milk or palm sugar can be added.
* Thai curries
What differentiates Thai curries from many other types of curries is how fresh ingredients are favored over powdered and dry forms. Kaffir lime leaves; fresh red chilies and lemongrass are a common combination in Thai curries. Coconut milk is sometimes added as well as fish sauce, and many Thai curries are not only red, but green or yellow in color.
Thai food is a very popular cuisine today, which is influenced by the surrounding Asian countries of Thailand. It is a cuisine that does not follow rigid rules and allows room for anyone to be creative and experiment with a mixture of basic Thai ingredients to make and suit their own tastes. Once the basics are learnt, anyone can enter the elegant and exotic world of Thai cuisine.