How To Prepare Thai Food With These Key Ingredients

Collage of thai food - How To Prepare Thai Food With These Key Ingredients Thai food is internationally famous. Thai cuisine is essentially a union of centuries-old Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combined into something uniquely Thai.

A prepared dinner table with a Thai meal placed on it, consists of a spicy or non-spicy soup, a curry dish with condiments, a dip with accompanying fish and vegetables, and there could also be a spiced salad.

Thai food has evolved much like Indian food, meaning the cooks or chefs take great care so there is a harmony of flavors and textures with each individual dish. One dish must compliment the other dishes positioned at the dinner table.

What is needed in your kitchen to make a great Thai dish? You need to know the “Key Ingredients.”

Key Ingredients Needed To Prepare Thai Food

When you dicide to make a Thai dish, the following is what you should find in your refrigerator or pantry.

Banana Leaves

Fresh banana leaves are used to wrap steamed fish, giving them a herbaceous flavor. Thai people also use banana leaves as cooking vessels, folding them into a shape that will hold and cook the food, and as “to-go” containers.

Idea: How To Make Banana Leaf Bowls by: Escape To Paradise 

Lemongrass

You can buy lemongrass fresh in thick grassy bundles or minced or chopped in jars or possibly the freezer section of your favorite Asian market.

RecipeLemongrass Basil Thai Chicken

thai lime leaves

Thai Lime Leaves

Lime Leaves

The leaves are a glossy dark green color, and are used to flavor curries, soups, fish cakes and even teas for its fragrant herbal notes.

Thai Basil 

This variety of basil professes a subtle sweet anise flavor.

The leaves are dark green with purple stems.

If you are not able to find Thai basil at your favorite market, Holy basil will do.

Recipe: Thai Chicken Stir-Fry with Holy Basil

Fish Sauce 

In Thailand, fish sauce is called nam pla, which is prepared from salted fish. Fish sauce can be used as a condiment, which can be savory and a reddish-brown in color. Fish sauce is ubiquitous in Thai cooking.

Recipe: Pad Thai Noodles with Chicken – (recipe uses fish sauce)

Green Papaya Fruit

Image credit: Photo Elsoar

Green Papaya

The green papaya is foot ball shaped. It is a fruit that makes the spicy, crunchy salad, “som tum” sought after to calm a hungry stomach.

An unripe green mango can be used in place of the green papaya when unable to find it at the market.

Tamarind Puree

Bowl of Sour Curry Prawns with Cha-Om Omelette

Image credit: Pranees Thai Kitchen – Sour Curry Prawns with Cha-Om (using tamarind puree)

This puree is made from the fruit pods of the tamarind tree, and it is referred to as “sour tamarind soup base” or “nuoc me chua.”

When purchasing the tamarind puree, you can find it in sticky 14 ounce blocks. The thai use the puree, by diluting 1 ounce pureed pulp with 1/3 cup warm water, and then strained.

You can also buy it ready made and jarred with no need of diluting it. There is also a concentrated tamarind that is thick and molasses like. It also needs to be diluted.

The concentrated tamarind is said to have a sour taste that can be overpowering in Pad Thai.

Link here to learn how to make your own homemade tamarind puree by: Pranees Thai Kitchen

Recipe: Thai Food Soup: Gang Som Cha Om Kai  – by Joy’s Thai Food

Thai Chili Peppers

These peppers are small in shape, green and red in color, and fiery in taste. Though as spicy as the chili maybe, it is said the chili gives a subtle fruity flavor when used in Thai cooking. If Thai chilis are too much for your palate, you can use Serrano peppers instead.

Dried Shrimp

Small little dried shrimp add salty flavor to noodle dishes and salads. Dried shrimp can keep indefinitely in a cool dark place within an airtight container.

Having these key ingredients used in authentic Thai cooking in your pantry or refrigerator, will always be at your reach in a moments notice. If unable to find them at your favorite grocers, try looking for them in an Asian market.

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Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans

Platted - Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans over Boston Lettuce

Candy-cane

Image Credit: Christmas Wow

When you hear the word candy cane, it is always associated with a candy that is in the shape of a small cane with white and red strips through it.

Or a small rounded candy you would receive at a restaurant after enjoying a meal.

Did you know though that there is a root vegetable that is also referred to as a candy cane? Yes, the beet root called “Chioggia,” and it has stripes of red and white on the inside its flesh.

shredded candy cane beetThe beet is nothing new to the vegetable market, as it is a Heirloom, meaning heirloom vegetables are open-pollinated cultivars, and have a reputation for being high quality and easy to grow (The Heirloom Vegetable Gardener’s Assistant).

Open-pollination is a particular cultivar that can be grown from seed and will come back “true to type.”

Our featured recipe contains these heirlooms, the candy striped Chioggia. Here is what you will need to make your “Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.”

1 large chioggia beet, peeled and shredded

1 large Granny smith apple, shredded with skin on

1/4 cup pomegranate dressing (can be purchased at your local Whole foods Market)

1/3 cup pecan pieces

pomegranate dressingFirst add the dressing to a large mixing bowl. You can add more than 1/4 cup of the dressing if you wish.

shredded candy cane beets and green applePrepare the the produce, and add to the mixing bowl. After shredding the beet, and apple mix it right away with the dressing, as it contains vinegar, which will coat the produce and stop it from browning to fast. Isn’t that amazing how the chioggia beet looks so much like a candy cane?

adding pecansMix the shredded beet and apple together until it is well coated with the dressing. Next add the pecan pieces and mix in.

Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with PecansNext spoon the slaw into a salad serving bowl.

Platted - Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans over Boston Lettuce Plate and serve over a piece of Boston lettuce leaf, and your favorite meat dish.

This side salad can make a great addition to your “Turkey Dinner” this coming Thanksgiving (November 26th) or Christmas (December 25th).

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The Eatable Fiddlehead Fern

The Eatable Fiddlehead Fern

Fiddlehead greens are the curled stalk or leaflet of Fiddlehead fern, and these curled leaflets are harvested for use as a vegetable or leafy green. Fiddleheads are harvested early in the season (Spring) before the frond has opened and reached its full height, they are cut as close as possible at ground level.

Believe it or not, but fiddlehead ferns have antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber (Agriculture Canada Study). The most popular verities that are harvested for food are:

  • Western Sword Fern
  • Lady Fern
  • Cinnamon Fern or Buckhorn Fern
  • Royal Fern
  •  Midin
  • Zenmai or Flowering Fern
  • Vegetable Fern

Certain varieties though, of the fiddlehead fern can be carcinogenic.

Harvesting the Fiddlehead Fern

Health Benefits of the Fiddlehead Fern

We mentioned a few nutritional benefits of the fern at the onset of the article, other benefits of the fern are, it’s rich in potassium, and low in sodium.

A draw back of eating the fiddlehead is it contains an enzyme called thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine a B-vitamin. Therefore, it is best not to consume the fern in excess, as it can lead to beriberi and other vitamin-B deficiencies.

Dinning On Fiddlehead Greens

Fiddlehead ferns grow wild in wet areas of the northeastern part of North America in the spring. Fiddleheads are a traditional dish of  Maine, and northern New England (USA) , and in some parts of northern Canada. It is said that the town of Tide Head, New Brunswick (Canada) claims itself as the “Fiddlehead Capital of the World.”

It is recommended to cooked the fiddlehead greens thoroughly before eating eating them as they do contain some traces of tannins and toxins. The recommended cooking time is 15 minutes if boiled and 10 to 12 minutes if steamed. The cooking methods of gourmet cooks, is to spread the greens into a thin layer in a steaming basket and steam them lightly, just until tender crisp.

The University of Maine states that the ostrich fiddleheads should not be Sauteed , stir-fried, or microwaved.  They say that the Fiddleheads should be boiled or steamed prior to use in recipes, and after doing so, then they can be used for sauteing, stir-frying or baking.

Recipes Using Fiddlehead Greens

Hawaiian Fern SaladHawaiian Fern Salad

1 pound warabi (fiddleheads)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt

1 (4oz.) package codfish, shredded

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, cubed (can also use cherry tomatoes)

Sauce ingredients:

¼ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup lemon juice

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

Thoroughly rinse warabi and dry, then cut into 1-inch length. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil, then add salt and warabi. Turn down heat to medium and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat shredded codfish on medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine warabi, codfish, onions and tomatoes.

Sauce instructions:

Mix together soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar and garlic salt. Pour over warabi salad and toss gently.

Chill until ready to serve.

Spicy Vegetable fern saladSpicy Vegetable Fern Salad

1 pound cooked shrimp and oysters

16 ounce bag of spring mix of leafy greens

4 boiled eggs, sliced

1 red onion, sliced

2 medium tomatoes sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

¼ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup lemon juice

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

2 to 3 tablespoons of wasabi  sauce

In a medium bowl mix soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, and garlic salt. Pour dressing into a large salad bowl. Next add first 6 ingredients in the recipe list. Toss until well coated with the dressing. Plate and serve.

 

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