Thai cuisine is one of the most recognizable across the globe. With unique ingredients and a flare for spice, Thai Recipes can seem overwhelming to even the most seasoned home cooks. However, with a few basic steps, most home cooks can get their foot in the door to mastering this delicious cuisine.
One of the first things that the home chef needs to consider when thinking of trying Thai recipes are the various ingredients necessary to master most dishes. Stocking a pantry with basic ingredients will help avoid the take-out counter when the urge for Thai strikes. Some staple ingredients with a stable shelf life that can be picked up any time include things like Palm Oil for frying, Fish Sauce, Coconut Milk, Palm Sugar, as well as Curry and Shrimp pastes.
From there, adding necessary herbs and spice is where flavors move from dull to traditional Thai. Take a look around and Asian Market and see what kind of spices and herbs you can pick up. Things like Thai Basil, Ginger, Garlic, Grachai, Cilantro and Lemon Grass are all commonly used fresh produce that can add tremendous depth and flavor.
For those who like spice, as is the case in most Thai Dishes, be sure to check out Thai Chili Peppers; these are one of the quintessential ingredients in Thai cooking. Prik kee noo and Krik chee fah are two traditional fresh chilies that can be found at most Asian grocers. Should they not be available, don’t be afraid to pick up ground dried Thai chilies. Though their flavor may be a little different, they still add that necessary kick.
Luckily, most equipment used in Thai recipes is very versatile and likely already in most of the home cook’s kitchens. One of the most essential and versatile pieces of equipment for cooking Thai food is the wok. Purchasing a good quality and well seasoned wok will make a huge difference in the flavor and quality of the food made. Other essentials include a large, sharp cleaver. Most dishes call for chopped ingredients, most of which can be done with a clever.
Other optional equipment that should be considered are things like a rice cooker, or even a pot big enough to cook quality rice. Often, a mortar and pestle will come in handy for grinding spices and herbs. Steaming baskets can be very useful for preparing lighter dishes and some vegetables as well.
Tips & Techniques
Luckily for most home chefs, most techniques used in Thai cooking are common knowledge. One of the most versatile techniques and most commonly used is the art of stir frying. Using a high quality, hot wok, it is essential to heat up the oil before adding the ingredients. From there, it is all about speed and motion. Keep stirring and tossing the ingredients to ensure they are all cooking evenly. Once the food is finished, plate it and enjoy!
Other useful techniques to master are things like deep-frying and steaming. Steaming baskets can come in handy when making things like dumplings and fish or vegetable dishes. Deep frying can be done in a wok for small batches. It is vital that enough oil is used to cover the ingredients completely when frying them. Also, don’t forget to drain off the excess oil when the food is removed from frying to ensure the crispest food possible.
Don’t let the wide variety of Thai dishes out there scare you. Thai cooking is well within the reach of any home chef with the willingness to learn and experiment with new flavors. By adding a few new ingredients to your pantry and a few new gadgets to your kitchen, you’ll be serving up restaurant quality Thai recipes in no time!