When you sit down at the table and place an order, you can guarantee that soon all your senses are going to bing alive with flavours and smells of Thai food. Dishes tend to be a taste explosion – part of this is down to the chef and the other part is down to the amazing ingredients included in each and every Thai dish.
What a lot of people assume is that the ingredients are often exotic and from faraway lands, but the truth is that some of the best dishes are made from some of the simplest ingredients and of course the major key to any good Thai dish is the spice used to make it.
Start with a Paste
Nearly all Thai foods begin with a paste of some kind – Thai Green/Red/Yellow curry is a prime example of this and most supermarkets sell pre-made pastes for these dishes. This of course will provide a nice dish for the family, but if you really want to blow them out of the water with a tasty explosion then it needs to come from fresh ingredients.
In the Thai kitchen, pastes were traditionally made using whole spices and herbs (some fresh, others dried) pounded together with a pestle & mortar. While many Thai chefs still prefer to use this method, a food processor is a convenient and adequate substitute.
Use the Core Ingredients
Most Thai pastes begin with shallots, garlic and green or red chillis. Added to this may be a variety of other spices and herbs, including dried or fresh coriander, Thai chili powder, galangal, green peppercorns, lemongrass, and turmeric. Kaffir lime leaves are also a common ingredient, lending a uniquely Thai flavor to pastes or simmering dishes.
Finally, no Thai kitchen would be complete without a good supply of fresh basil. Thais make use of several types of basil in their cooking, including sweet basil, and Thai holy basil.