Thai Food Notes…
We thought maybe you would like to know some general information about Thai food. We found some of this post at Wikipedia – and changed it to suit our own writing style.
Thai food is known for its balance of five distinct and fundamental flavors in each dish: hot (spicy “phet”), sour (“priow”), sweet (“wahn”), salty (“kem”) and bitter (“kohm” rising sound like a question). Although usually thought of as a single cuisine, Thai food is more accurately described as four regional cuisines matching the four main regions of the country: Northern, Northeastern (or Isaan), Central and Southern regions.
Southern curries, for example, tend to be sweeter overall and may contain more coconut milk and fresh turmeric, while northeastern dishes often include lime juice and are very hot and spicy with lots of green and red chili peppers.
A Thai meal usually consists of a single dish of Thai jasmine rice, with an assortment of other dishes served at the same time that can be eaten with rice. Rice is normally the boiled rice but in the northeast – “kowl nee-ow” – sticky rice, is preferred even more.
Rice is the chief ingredient of Thai cuisine, as it is of most Asian cuisines. The highly prized, sweet-smelling aromatic jasmine rice is indigenous to Thailand and preferred. It is more expensive than cheap rices but the difference is substantial in taste, aroma and texture. Steamed rice is accompanied by strong smelling curries, stir-fry and other dishes, incorporating sometimes large quantities of chili peppers, lime juice and lemon grass. Curries, stir-fries and others may be poured over rice creating a single dish called khao rad gang, a popular meal when time is at a premium. Noodles are popular as well but usually come as a single dish, like the stir-fry Pad Thai or in delicious noodle soups (“gwit diao” or “gwit jap”).
“Nam Prik” is a chili sauce. Each region of the country has its own special charismatic flavor style. It is prepared by crushing together chillies with various ingredients such as garlic and shrimp paste using a mortar and pestle. It is then often served with vegetables such as cucumbers, cabbage and yard-long beans, usually raw. The vegetables are dipped into the sauce and eaten with rice. Nam prik may also be simply eaten alone with rice. In Isaan – they have a great spicy sauce or paste called “bla la” or “bla rah” which is fermented fish paste that has a highly distinctive odor which personally I find lovely, but most foreigners don’t like it at all.
Thai food is generally eaten with a fork and a spoon. The spoon is the primary eating instrument for almost any meal and the fork helps the food onto the spoon. The fork is held in the left hand and the spoon in the right – concurrently. Chopsticks are used for noodle soups. However, it is common practice for Thais and hill tribe peoples in the North and Northeast (Isaan) to eat sticky rice with their right hands by making it into balls that are dipped into side dishes and eaten. Thai-Muslims also frequently eat meals with only their right hands.
The ingredient found in almost all Thai dishes and every region of the country is nam pla, a very aromatic and strong tasting fish sauce. Shrimp paste, a combination of ground shrimp and salt, is also extensively used. Thai dishes in the Central and Southern regions use a wide variety of leaves rarely found in the west, such as kaffir lime leaves. Fresh – kaffir lime leaves’ unique flavor is found in nearly every Thai soup (e.g., the hot and sour Tom yum) or curry from those areas. It is frequently combined with garlic, galangal (a light colored root), lemongrass, turmeric and/or finger-root, blended together with copious amounts of chili peppers both green and red to make curry paste. Fresh Thai basil is also used to add fragrance to foods such as Green curry. Other typical ingredients include the small green Thai eggplants, tamarind, palm and coconut sugars, lime juice, and coconut milk.