Most recipes of Thai cuisine needs oil in order to cook the meal. Thai restaurants commonly use coconut oil, palm oil, soybean oil, and peanut oil but lard is also used. They are preferred for grilled and fried foods. For example, if you would like to use olive oil, it is not recommended with high-temperature meals like frying. It is a type of oil that should be used with salads, bread or grilled vegetables since there is a possibility for it to turn into toxic at high temperature.
Coconut oil: Since the flavor is kind-of-sweet and nutty, it goes well with Thai recipes. Good for mid-temperature cooking, not preferred with stir-frying.
Palm oil: Made by pressing the fruit of palm tree. Much preferred for stir-frying and grilling.
Soybean oil: Works well with grilled and stir-fried ingredients. One of the most preferred ones.
Peanut oil: Best with stir-frying, deep-frying, and grilling. Despite the strong flavor, it is much used in Thai cuisine. So if you have any nut allergies, be careful when dining outside!
Essential ingredients of Thai cuisine
1. Peanut sauce Mostly used in recipes with chicken, meat, and vegetables. It balances sweet, spicy, and sour taste. The flavor is sweet and the texture should be not too thick nor too watery.
2. Coconut milk Made by getting the oil out of coconut along with warm water. Much used in Thai curries, stews, and stir-fries. It is one of the most commonly used sweet ingredients. The texture is creamy and the taste gets incredibly delicious in cooking.
3. Rice Known as sticky and glutinous. It is definitely one of the staple ingredients of this particular cuisine. Jasmine rice is the most popular and commonly used kind. For a whole-grain option, brown jasmine or black sticky rice should be considered.
4. Chicken All forms are well-accepted and very much preferred in Thai food culture. Most commonly known dishes could be curried coconut chicken, spicy basil chicken, pad thai, chicken satay with peanut sauce, etc.
5. Soy It is often used in vegetables and stir-fried meats. Actually, soy sauces used in Thai cuisine are originated from Chinese cuisine. Black soy sauce, light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, and fermented whole soybeans are mostly preferred.
6. Fish sauce (nam pla) Mostly used instead of salt or soy sauce. It is made by draining liquid from fermented anchovies. Used as a dipping sauce by combining with other ingredients or straight in cooking.
7. Noodles Made by rice flour, wheat flour or mung bean flour. Noodle curry foods and soups are very popular and often consumed in Thai cuisine.
8. Spices & herbs A necessity, a must-have. Varieties are endless. Can be found in each and every Thai food. Most commonly used ones could be garlic (most recipes of Thai starts with cooking garlic in oil), lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, basil, mint, coriander seed powder, peppercorns, galangal, chiles, kaffir lime leaf, and the list goes on…
So, what makes Thai food Thai?
All at the same time: sweet, spicy, sour, salty
Balancing: One of the unique things of Thai recipes is balancing the flavor. It is not an easy thing to do and requires practice. If you are planning to cook Thai food at home for the first time, do not expect too much but do not give up the hope for it! If it goes the wrong way, just order Thai food online, and do better the next time. All you need is practice!
Skills: In order to cook the perfect Thai food, technical skills and effort are a must-have. There are some easy-going recipes in this cuisine but most of them require time and effort.
Herbs: Choosing the right herbs could be a challenge as Thai cuisine offers generous types of herbs. The combination of herbs while cooking might change the whole taste of a meal.
Seasonings: To enrich the flavor of delicious Thai foods, usage of seasonings is inevitable. Nobody could enjoy Thai food without seasonings. It is a unique thing of Thai food culture.
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