General informations about Thai food
Thai cuisine is refined and fragrant whose tone is given by a few spices and herbs that are found in most of the dishes: cilantro, ginger, Lemongrass, sweet basil, [sacred Basil], mint, cardamom, curry, chilies and coconut. It also uses much fish sauce (nam pla) to salt the food and [shrimp paste] (Kapi) to spice up the seasonings. But the Thai cuisine is not only refined in taste: it is also an art of the table, with its magnificent preparations carved in fruits and vegetables, for the decoration of dishes. The feast for the taste buds but also the pleasure of the eyes!
Thai cuisine is often very spicy. A European Palate, unaccustomed to the heat of the pepper, will be surprised by the strength of some dishes... So, if you are sensitive, feel free to ask "may pet" (not spicy) when ordering.
The originality of Thai cuisine lies in the various flavors combining the tangy, bitter and spicy, coconut to soften the dishes. Whether food from the street, or the Palace cuisine, it offers an unparalleled diversity of flavours. But this cuisine also varies from one region to another, influenced by neighbouring countries. Thus, the South is marked by the influence of Malay and Indonesian cuisine (satay), but also by the presence of many coconut trees: coconut milk is here at the base of the preparations. The population of the South also appreciates the Sator, kind of big bean with a particularly bitter taste, cooked with the Kapi. The North is more marked by the cuisine of Burma and Laos. The North is also characterized by the tradition of the "Kantoke" meal: the guests sit on the floor around a low table, round woven bamboo, the "toke". On this table is arranged a variety of typical North dishes, accompanied of the Kaow niaow, sticky rice, so much appreciated by people of this region. The Northeast, also called Issan by thais, is known for the Som Tam, Nam tok and the laap. These dishes have now colonized throughout Thailand: the region of the Issan being the poorest of the country (drought, poverty of the soil), its inhabitants emigrated in the rest of the country, taking with them their culinary traditions. The dishes of the Northeast are among the toughest of the Kingdom. The explanation is maybe this very poor region, strongly spicy dishes you can eat more rice and probably less than the dish itself.
A bit of history
Rice is of course at the base of the Thai food. The fish is also very present. This famous quote, attributed to the King of Sukhothai Ramklamhaeng, said she did not: "in the water, the fish, in the fields, the rice". It testifies to the antiquity of the use of rice and fish in traditional Thai cuisine. The rice cultivation dates back well before the arrival of Thai people, to the surrounding of the VII th century of our era. Climate and favourable geography, associated with the realization of a complex system of irrigation channels have helped this culture to grow to now be one of the main wealth of the country. At the same time, fish have proliferated in this important river, and associated with marine fish network, provided for the people of this region, a regular and abundant food.
Over the centuries, new components from China, India, but also of Portugal and even South America, enriched the Thai cuisine. So the peppers were introduced late, with the arrival of the first Europeans, probably Portuguese from 1511. The peppers were mainly South and Central America. It's can also be to the Portuguese to the introduction in Thailand of the tomato that came from the new world. The kapi, conducted at base of fermented shrimp paste, and which is one of the basics of Thai cooking, would be also quite old since we found its description in 1637, in french writings of Simon de Loubère, diplomatic mission to Siam. Pasta, called Kouey Tiaow would be originating in China, and would have been introduced by Chinese, from the time of Ayutthaya. They are today, with rice, the basis of Thai food.
Fort long unknown, Thailand has never been colonized,Thai cuisine has became the cuisine currently in vogue. Thai specialties restaurants are open a bit everywhere in Europe in recent years. They generally have the reputation of being the most refined, but also the most expensive Asian food.
The rules of a thai meal
The thai meal is taken in general sitting around a table. But in the countryside, it is still often served on the floor on mats of reeds. We use Western cutlery, forks and spoons, and not as chopsticks often believed Westerners. The knife is not used, the food being served already cut into small pieces. We use the spoon for eating, the fork to push food into the spoon. In the North and Northeast, steamed sticky rice is eaten with fingers, balls that you dip in sauce dishes. Chopsticks are used to eating Chinese noodles.
A large dish of rice is placed in the center of the table, with all the dishes making up the meal around(with the exception of the desserts).
There is no order in the consumption of dishes: each follows the order that suits him: fish, soups, salads... are eaten depending on the mood of each.
Deserts, often made up of local fruits are served then. But there are also specialties of Thai desserts: the kanom chan at base of tapioca, coconut, soy and sugar dough. They consist of small units, often folded in a banana leaf. Very nice, but not necessarily great for a Western palate, because very gelatinous.
Meal is sprayed with flat water, local beer (often is Singha) or Whisky mixed with sparkling water (Nam Soda, Soda Water English) for the rich. Wine is not consumed traditionally. Aperitifs and digestive are not appropriated.
Thai cooking utensils
Here is a list of the utensils necessary for the realization of the Thai recipes:
Wokdes iron stoves, like wok, of different sizes. The wok is a symbol of the Asian cuisine utensil. It is a cooking appliance to bottom thin Bowl-shaped that allows to capture food. In general, it has a tail and 2 handles. The interest of cooking to the wok is that foods are seized and therefore do not lose their vitamins (which are for the most part, thermolabiles, that is destroyed by heat) and keep their full flavor. All cooking with the wok must be done over high heat. Should be shaken frequently foods so that they cook evenly and without sticking. In order to limit the quantity of oil for cooking, add a few spoonfuls of broth or water;
a spatula on board rounded;
Basket mesh and handle boisun mortar with a pestle to crush spices for example. Can be replaced by an electric robot, but purists prefer the mortar;
a block and a sharp chopper;
a wooden handle and metal mesh baskets to immerse food in frying oil;
a necessary to steam (electric or other).