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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Italian Pasta with Pesto Sauce

Italian Pasta with Pesto Sauce

Basil is an herb, and all of its plant parts, leaves, seeds, and flowers, are used in herbal medicine, particularly “Holy Basil“. Basil is also used in desserts, including ice cream and sorbet, and custard. Depending on the variety of basil, it is used in Italian, Mediterranean, and Thai food. The essential oil is used in the preparation of perfumes.

Verities basil include the Sweet Basil, Lemon Basil, and the two just mention, the Thai Basil, and Holy Basil.

Basil is a member of the Lamiaceae family, and included with the plant species is the mint, oregano, catnip, rosemary, and sage.

Holy Basil is related to the common Sweet Basil and is used in Ayurvedic traditional practices. The leaves are used to support healthy upper respiratory tract function, and research has shown that Holy Basil includes the benefits in helping to support a healthy immune system.

In our featured recipe – Italian Pasta with Pesto Sauce – we will be using the common Sweet Basil. This meal can be prepared in 30 minutes, and here is what you will need, starting with the pesto recipe.

 

Traditional Pesto SaucePesto Sauce

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup pine nuts
2 large garlic cloves
½ cup grated Romano/Parmesan or Asiago cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a food processor, except oil, and pulse. Start to add oil slowly, pulsing until ingredients form a smooth paste.

If you do not use right away, or there are left overs, store in a jar container with a layer of olive oil on top to prevent discoloration.

Prepare the spaghetti pasta according to packaged instructions. Just as pasta is done, place a large frying pan on medium heat. Then drain and rinse pasta. Set aside.

Pour about 1/8 cup (1 ounce) of olive oil to the heated pan, let warm and then add the pasta to pan.

Mix to coat the pasta and add pesto sauce, starting with a one half of a cup (1/2 cup) and mix to coat the pasta adding more pesto if needed and as desired.

Italian Pasta with Pesto Sauce (close-up)Plate the Italian Pasta with Pesto Sauce and serve.

 

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Thai Chicken with Linguini

Thai Chicken with Linguini

Another Asian dish from the kitchen of Splendid Recipes and More. I actually came up with this recipe when I was out to lunch one day at the Cheesecake Factory. If I recall on their menu it said”Thai Chicken and Liguini.” They were selling a plate for about $10 or $12. In your own kitchen you can make this recipe to serve 4 to 6 plates for under $3.00 each.

Here is what you will need.

16 oz. linguini cooked

4 lbs. chicken breast

2 cups carrots, cut Julianne style

2 cups celery, cut Julianne style

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 tbsp. avocado oil

1 cup hot peanut sauce (see end of article for home-made peanut sauce)

1 cup peanuts, unsalted

 

Most Asian recipes call for vegetables cut Julianne style or on the diagonal. Vegetables cut this way take less time to cook as more surface area is exposed to the heat source. Vegetables cook faster, leaving them crunchy and most of the nutrition is not cooked out.

Here is an illustration of a very easy way to cut carrots Julianne style.

First wash your carrot. From left to right (image), cut the carrot into 1.5 to 2 inch sections. Square the carrot, by thinly slicing outer skin of carrot. Next cut squared carrot into 4 slices. Then cut each slice into match sticks (about 4 slices).

cutting carrot Julianne style

To cut your celery Julianne style is about the same. But there is no need to square the celery or remove the outer skin.

cutting celery Julianne style

Wash celery and then cut into 1.5 to 2 inch sections. Next face rounded side of celery up and slice down the middle. With each section, cut into about 4 match sticks.

Most people though do not like to contend with the stringy part of the celery. Even though the celery is cut Julianne style, you can still have strings, though much smaller. This is how I like to cut my celery, at an angle. There is no strings to contend with, using this cut.

cutting celery at an angle

Cutting the celery in this way, also exposes more surface to the heat source and cooking the celery fast, and leaving it crunchy.

Now on to preparing Thai Chicken with Linguini.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Cut each chicken breast into ¼ inch chunks. In a large frying pan; heat oil. Add minced garlic and sauté. Add vegetables and sauté until tender and then add chicken and cook until pink is gone.

Pour about ½ cup of peanut sauce into pan over chicken and vegetable mixture and mix in well.  Add peanuts mix some more and add the final ½ cup peanut sauce and mix. Remove from pan and put onto a large serving dish.

close-up of Thai Chicken with Linguini

Plate and serve.

Home -made Peanut Sauce

1 13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk, full fat

¼ cup red curry paste

¾ cup natural creamy peanut butter, no sugar added

½ tbsp. salt

¾ cup sugar

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or white vinegar

½ cup water

Mix everything into a medium sauce pan and bring to a soft boil over medium heat. Wisk while the ingredients are coming to a boil. Do this for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and use in the recipe. Let the rest cool down, place in a jar with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate, should last about 4 months. The sauce will thicken, to loosen or make saucy again, place jar into a small pot of boiling water.

Buy your peanut butter fresh ground at your local market. This way there is no peanut or other seed oil used. These types of oils (omega-6) cause inflammation within your body.

 

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Lemongrass Basil Thai Chicken

Lemon Grass Basil Thai Chicken

Have you had lemongrass before? When mixed with other ingredients it can be really tasty. Lemongrass is associated with Asian cooking especially in Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese food.

Lemongrass is also classified as an herb and is reported to have many health benefits.

The herb has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is very potent in helping to detoxify internal organs, such as the liver, exocrine gland, excretory organs, and the digestive tract.

It also helps to lower the buildup of uric acid (herb can bring relief for those who suffer with Gout), cholesterol, superfluous fats and other toxins in the body while helping with digestion, and improving blood circulation.

It also has been report for use as calming effect in relieving insomnia and stress.

Now for the featured recipe and here is what you will need:

4 chicken breast, chopped 1-inch squares

16 oz. bag Mediterranean vegetable blend

¾ cup Desiccated Coconut

1 green chili, serrano, without seeds

2 garlic cloves

½ cup extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

½ tsp. Himalayan salt

3 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. dried basil or 5 fresh Thai basil leaves

½ tube of Garden gourmet Lemon Grass or 3 fresh chopped stalks lemon grass, white parts only

1 tsp. arrowroot starch

close-up of Lemon Grass Basil Thai ChickenIf you can’t find fresh Thai basil, the common sweet basil will work. Lemongrass can be hard to find fresh, so the tube of Garden Gourmet Lemon Grass will work just as well.

In a food processor, add coconut, chili, garlic, oil, salt, juice, basil, lemongrass, and process until a paste is formed, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add either 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or avocado oil and heat. Add chopped chicken breast and cook until outside of meat is white or oblique. Add vegetable blend and stir in.

Next add lemongrass mixture and stir in. Add 1 tsp. arrowroot starch to ¼ cup of cold water and mix till arrowroot is dissolved, add to meat mixture, mixing in till well incorporated.

Side of Wild Rice with Rosemary, Parsley and ThymeContinue to stir ingredients till mixture starts to boil and thicken some.

Turn heat down to simmer for 10 minutes more or until chicken is cooked through.

You can serve over cooked rice.

We served our Lemongrass Basil Thai Chicken with a side of Wild Rice with Rosemary, Parsley and Thyme.

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Amazing Ways Food is used in Thai Recipes

Amazing Ways Food is used in Thai Recipes

 

Thailand or officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country located at the center of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia.

Thailand is the world’s 51st-largest country in terms of total area, approximately 198,000 square miles, and is the 20th-most-populous country, with around 64 million people. Bangkok is the capital and largest city, and also is center of Thailand’s politics, commercialism, industrialism and culture.

It is also interesting enough to mention Thailand has been called the Golf Capital of Asia. It is a popular destination for golf. The country attracts large numbers of golfers from Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa and Western countries who go to play golf in Thailand every year.

Thai cuisine also uses ingredients that are commonly known to us in the Western world or more industrialized countries. Knowing how Thai recipes prepare these food items might give us more of an appreciation for such food.

Bamboo Shoots are used in many Thai recipes. To use bamboo shoots in cooking requires them to be peeled to get to the white inner stalks and then boil them for 30 canned bamboo shootsminutes in water. If using canned bamboo shoots they only need to be boiled for 10 minutes. There is no need for boiling them if they are part or if they are part of a soup or curry dish.

There are three (3) types of basil used in Thai recipes. They are Sweet, Holy, and Lemon Basil. If you use basil in your cooking, it is most likely sweet basil as that is the most commonly sold in the local markets.

Basil typesHoly basil has a spicier flavor and has slightly purple leaves. Lemon basil for its name gives away what it tastes like. It has a lemony flavor and also has a distinct lemony scent.

If you can’t find Lemon basil at your local market, you can use sweet basil by adding finely chopped chili peppers or a bit of lemon rind.

Bergamot is a small tree with long, oval green leaves with white flowers. The small tree originates in Asia but can found in Italy, Morocco and the Ivory Coast. The tree bears small round fruit that is yellow when ripe. The preparation of some Thai dishes use the rind or zest of the fruit.

It is hard to find this small fruit, so granted lime zest can be used in its place, though it can be a poor substitute.

Lots of Thai recipes use Chili paste, which is used for adding spice and flavor to the dish. A particularly popular version by Thai cooks is burnt mild chili paste. You can buy the chili paste in bottles or tubes at almost any market in the Asian food section.

Chinese mushrooms are also an addition to Thai cooking as well as coconut milk. Coconut milk can be bought in cans almost anywhere. If the recipe calls for coconut cream scoop, that would be the harder white substance that has formed at the top of the can. If it is coconut milk that the recipe calls for, than just stir the can thoroughly before using.

Curry Paste: While some people prefer to prepare their own curry pastes, many bottled curries are available at the supermarket. Most recipes use red, green or yellow curry.

Fish sauce: Made from collecting the liquid off of fermenting salted fish, this pale, watery brown sauce is sometimes used to replace all the salt in recipes. It is very flavorful and compliments all Thai food. It is called for in many recipes but you can also use your imagination with it, as it is very versatile.

Galangal is also used in many curries and soups. It is similar to ginger. Galangal is hard to find fresh, but can be purchased dried. It will need to be soaked in water for 1 hour before using.

Thai garlic is a must when preparing a dish. Thai garlic should be available in Asian markets, but if not then the common garlic we see can also be used.

When using the Thai garlic the smaller, tighter cloves are the best to use because they are more flavorful and will not be over powered by the other herbs and spices used in the dish.

Ginger used quite often in modern cooking is easy to find, and ginger is extremely healthy and flavorful.

Lemon grass is one of the most commonly used ingredients in Thai cooking. It looks much like a small leek. The hard outer portion is removed, and the lower bulbous part is used.

The lemon grass is sliced into pieces and added to the food while cooking, and then removed before serving the dish, or it can be blended in a food processor before adding to the cooking process and then consumed with the dish giving it more flavor.

Palm sugar is used in some Thai recipes, but if it is not unavailable you can substitute with dark brown sugar or real maple syrup.

Rice is a main staple for the Thai people and they prefer long-grain white Jasmine rice which is flavorful and aromatic rice that cools and compliments spicy Thai dishes.

Rice paper is used to make fresh Thai spring rolls, which are prepared with vegetables and meat if desired.

Sesame oil is the preferred oil to use in Thai cuisine. It’s a very flavorful oil and works well with Thai cooking.

Preparation and cooking techniques:

The vegetables used in Thai cooking should be cut as finely as possible. The idea behind the thin cut vegetable is that the smaller they are chopped, the less time they will need to be cooked, which retains most of the nutrients as possible.

Most of us have cooked a stir fry before. This method requires a wok and oil. The vegetables are when the oil and wok are hot and then stirred constantly. The vegetables should only be stir fried for a couple of seconds so they remain crisp and brightly colored.

stone mortar usewd in Thai cookingMortar and Pestles are used in making sauces, and curry pastes. Anyone who loves Thai food and is animate about cooking it needs a mortar and pestle in their kitchen. It should be preferably made out of clay or wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ingredients for Making Amazing Asian Food

Ingredients for Making Amazing Asian Food

Throughout the Asian world, they have their own unique cuisine.  The first countries that come to mind in most conversations when we talk about the Asian world is Japan, China, Korea, and Vietnam. The following map shows the actual world of Asia. Yes, it includes the Middle East and Russia.

southeast Asian countries

Asian food can even be healthy for you when cooked right. Some of the unique foods from the Asian world:

Chinese food

Chinese Food

Russian Food

Russian Food

Japanese Food

Japanese Food

The following is a basic list of food stuffs used in preparing Asian Cuisine along with preparations and techniques.

Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo shoots are called for in many Asian recipes. In order to prepare a bamboo shoot for cooking you need to peel them and boil the white inner stalks for 30 minutes in water. If you are using canned bamboo shoots you will only need to boil them for 10 minutes, or if they are going into curries or soups, boiling might not be required.

Basil (fresh)

There are three types of basils used in Thai cooking; sweet, holy and lemon. Sweet basil is much easier to find because it is commonly used in western cooking. Holy basil has a spicier taste and can be recognized by its slightly purple leaves. Lemon basil has a lemony flavor and can be detected by its distinct lemony scent. If you can only find sweet basil you can compensate for holy or lemon basil by adding finely chopped chili peppers or a bit of lemon rind.

Bergamot

Also known as kaffir lime leaves has a slightly limey flavor which goes well with all Thai dishes. Since this may be hard to find, granted lime rind can be used in its place although it is a poor substitute.

Chili paste

This can be bought in bottles or tubes in almost any supermarket. Used for adding spice and flavor to most dishes, a particularly popular version by Thai cooks is burnt mild chili paste.

Chinese mushrooms

Mushrooms are added to a lot of Asian cooking and many people chose to use the dried variety because they are cheaper and have just as much flavor and nutritional value. You will need to soak the mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes before using them and the stems are usually discarded because of their tough nature.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk can be bought in cans almost anywhere. If the recipe you are using calls for coconut cream scoop the harder white substance that has formed at the top of the can. If you need coconut milk, stir the can thoroughly before using.

Curry Paste

While some people prefer to prepare their own curry pastes, many bottled curries are available at the supermarket. Most recipes use red, green or yellow curry.

Fish sauce

Made from collecting the liquid off of fermenting salted fish, this pale, watery brown sauce is sometimes used to replace all the salt in recipes. It is very flavorful and compliments all Asian food. It is called for in many recipes but you can also use your imagination with it, as it is very versatile.

Galangal

A close relative to ginger is used in many curries and soups. Since it is quite rare to find fresh you will probably have to purchase it dry and soak it in water for 1 hour before using.

Garlic

Asian garlic might be available in some Asian markets, however if you cannot find it, the Western variety will work just as well. Use the smaller, tighter cloves on your garlic head for Thai cooking because they are more flavorful and will not be over powered by the other herbs and spices used in your dish.

Ginger

Easy to find and used quite often in modern cooking, ginger is extremely healthy and flavorful. It must be peeled before it is grated or chopped. Fresh ginger is much better than dried, although dried may be substituted if needed.

Lemon grass

Lemon grass is one of the most commonly used items in Asian cooking. It is a long stalk that looks like a small leek. The hard outer portion should be removed and the lower, bulbous part is used. You can either add sliced pieces to your food while it is cooking and remove them before serving your dish, or you can blend them in a food processor so they can be consumed with the dish, which will give it more flavors.

Palm Sugar

Some Asian recipes call for palm sugar which is available in some Asian markets as cellophane wrapped blocks. If palm sugar is unavailable you can substitute with dark brown sugar or real maple syrup.

Rice

The Asian people prefer long-grain white Jasmine rice, which is flavorful and aromatic rice that cools and compliments spicy Thai dishes.

Rice papers

Used for making fresh Asian spring rolls, you can buy rice papers at any Asian food store. To use soak papers (one at a time) in warmish water until they are soft and pliable, then dry off with paper towel and use immediately.

Sesame Oil

An oil that comes from pressed sesame seeds and originated in East India. A very flavorful oil and works very well with Asian cooking.

Preparation and Cooking Techniques

Vegetables

Vegetables used in Asian cooking should be cut as finely as possible. The idea is that the smaller they are chopped, the less time they will need to be cook, therefore retaining as much nutrients as possible.

Stir frying

Oil should be poured into a wok (or similar pan) and vegetables should be added over high heat while being constantly stirred. Vegetables should only be stir fried for a couple of seconds so they remain crisp and brightly colored.

Mortar and Pestles

Perfect for making sauces, curry pastes and salads, every Thai cook should own a mortar and pestle preferably made out of clay or wood.

Mincing

Since Asian cooking uses so many intensely flavorful ingredients they should all be chopped very finely so one flavor never overpowers the other. You should always use a very sharp knife for this.

Roasting and grinding spices

When adding spices and herbs to your Asian dish you should always roast them by slowly heating each spice individually in pan until they begin to crackle and turn brown. When each spice is done roasting they should be ground very finely in a food processor or mortar.

A 2 minute video demonstration of an Asian Cuisine Recipes : Tips for Pot Sticker Soup Ingredients

For more video demonstrations of Asian food click here.

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