Introducing a World of Flavor
The original name of Thailand was Sukhothai, which means "Dawn of Happiness". Without a doubt, sharing a Thai meal will bring this attitude of pleasure to your table. Preparing Thai food is quick and easy. Most recipes are cooked on a stovetop for a short period of time making Thai food ideal for weeknight dinners. Plus soups and curries can be made ahead of time, frozen and reheated for serving.
Cooking a Thai meal will introduce your family to a new culture through a variety of flavors.
Common flavors in Thai cuisine include:
- Coconut Milk
- Fish Sauce (Thailand's version of soy sauce)
- Galangal (if you can't find this ingredient substitute: ginger)
- Lemongrass (if you can't find this ingredient substitute: lemon zest)
- Limes and Lime juice
Curry paste is a common ingredient in Thai soup, stir-fries and stews. It's a spice mixture made with fresh chilies, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, onion and other aromatic spices. Prepared curry pastes are available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores. These jars deliver great Thai flavor with less hassle than making curry paste at home. The most common varieties include:
- Green Curry Paste- Made using green chilies. This is the hottest curry paste on the heat scale.
- Red Curry Paste- Made using red chilies. This is milder than green curry paste, but still fairly hot.
- Yellow Curry Paste - Made using yellow wax peppers and turmeric. More mild than red curry paste.
- Massaman Curry Paste - A roasted curry paste that is made using cinnamon, cloves, cumin and cardamom. It has a sweet and spicy flavor.
- Panang Curry Paste - Made using lemongrass, coriander and cumin. It is the mildest curry paste.
Curry pastes are spicy. For milder, family-friendly flavor, cut down on the measurement of curry paste called for in a recipe. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of red curry paste use 1 teaspoon instead.
Coconut milk is a staple in Thai cooking. It's made by soaking the coconut meat in water, then blending, squeezing and straining it. The result is a milky, smooth liquid with a wonderful coconut flavor. Canned coconut milk is found in the Asian section of grocery stores. High in calcium and low in cholesterol, coconut milk makes a good substitute for heavy cream for those with dairy allergies.
Although a coconut is not a true nut, in 2006 the FDA categorized coconut as a tree nut for the purposes of product labeling. Allergies to coconut are very rare and do not to relate other tree nut allergies.
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