Fresh ingredients, inspiring spices and rich flavours have made Thai food an undisputed global favourite. Visitors to the home of so many culinary classics may be surprised to find the staple dishes quite easy to prepare.
In addition to its breathtaking scenery and vibrant culture, Thailand has long been a favourite with foodies from around the globe. Visitors who journey to the Land of Smiles should never leave without sampling a selection of mouth-watering local dishes, whether they are served in a restaurant, offered at a street stall, or even better, home-made at your holiday villa.
Thai cooking courses have become almost as popular as Thai massage in the last few years, with visitors also keen to continue enjoying the eclectic flavours of Thai cuisine once they get back home.
Private villas in Thailand often come with the services of a local chef, which not only means you can enjoy fabulous food throughout the stay, but you can also pick up a few tips at mealtimes or even arrange for some private cooking classes in the privacy of your own well equipped kitchen.
Here are a 5 dishes you will not only love to eat, but can also learn to cook at home.
In its purest form, Thai food is based on four flavours: sweet, salty, spicy and sour, and the ingredients used in the national dish, Pad Thai, reflect this. After frying some egg noodles in vegetable oil, you simply season them to taste with lime juice, brown sugar, fresh red chilli and fish sauce to create the basic flavour. Once the seasonings have soaked in, just add a handful of bean sprouts and fry for one more minute before serving up with some fresh spring onions. Many people enjoy this dish with shrimp, chicken or tofu, which can be added to the wok from the start.
This hot and sour soup is perfect for a light lunch or dinner, served with a portion of rice. Limes, fish sauce, red chillies and a little sugar establish your main flavour base, while lemongrass stalks, ginger and coriander are also key components. To prepare Tom Yam, simply bring some chicken broth to the boil over a medium heat before adding the lemongrass, ginger and chillies. Let it simmer for 15 minutes, then add fish sauce, sugar and some halved straw mushrooms before simmering again for five minutes. Then add your gung
(shrimp) and cook until they turn pink. Finally, remove the soup from the heat and add the lime juice and coriander as a finishing touch.
Salad with Spice
This spicy delicacy is not a salad as Westerners know it. Comprised of glass noodles, mushrooms, prawns and pork, it serves as a spicy lunchtime treat, and is simple to make. First, soak the glass noodles in water before separately boiling pork in water or coconut milk until its cooked, leaving 4 tablespoons of the broth when you drain it. When the noodles are cooked, add them to the pork along with some chillies, garlic, onion, fish sauce, lime juice and tomato and mix thoroughly. Season your mixture to taste, and garnish with the cooked prawns and some coriander leaves.
The spicy kick and rich flavour of Thai fishcakes makes them one of the most memorable side dishes you are likely to sample on a trip to Thailand. They can be made with any kind of white fish, to which you add the staple Thai seasonings (red chillies, fish sauce, spring onions, lemongrass, garlic and coriander). You will also need 500g of white fish (whiting, Pollock, cod etc.), an egg, green beans and some coconut milk. Blend your seasonings to make a paste before blending in the fish and smoothing out the paste by adding the egg and coconut milk. Stir the beans into the paste and let the mixture chill overnight. The next day, all that is left to do is shape the mixture into small patties and fry in vegetable oil until crisp and brown before serving.
A creamy Thai curry usually hits the spot – especially if you have a big appetite and want to indulge in an aromatic meal during a quiet night in at your villa. Fragrant and delicious, the best thing about a red curry is that it can be adapted from mild to red hot, depending on your taste preferences. The curry paste is made from a wide selection of traditional Thai seasonings (chilies, garlic, coriander, limes, coconut milk), and easy enough to pick up as a ready-made paste at a local Thai supermarket. To cook on your home stove, combine the sauce with chicken pieces or shrimp and bring to the boil. Add your vegetables of your choice (baby sweetcorn works well) and let it simmer until the vegetables and chicken/shrimp are cooked to tender. For the final flourish, add a generous sprinkle of coriander and serve with rice.
by Wayne Hue