Thai cooking is all about balancing spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours. From pad Thai, tom yum soups, coconut curries and Thai beef salads the variety of dishes that can be created is varied and always exciting.
Here are our 7 essential ingredients for creating delicious Thai dishes at home.
Lemongrass is used in Thai cooking to add a subtle lemon lime flavour and pairs nicely with garlic, shallots, ginger, chicken, pork, beef and chilli.
Lemongrass can be purchased in most grocery stores and is usually sold in a bunch of 2-3 stalks. Look for lemongrass stalks that have a lemony green colour towards the bulb and are fragrant.
Lemongrass is quite a fibrous ingredient so we suggest using a KitchenAid Food Processor to ensure that it is chopped finely. Alternatively, you can put lemongrass into your tom yum soup stock 5-10 minutes earlier than the rest of your ingredients to ensure it breaks down properly.
View more tips on how to prepare lemongrass.
Try using lemongrass in this great Herbed Chicken & Prawn Koftas recipe.
Fish sauce is the go to flavour enhancer for Thai cooking and is used as a substitute for salt. In restaurants in Thailand, it is not uncommon to see a bottle of fish sauce on the table.
Fish sauce is made up of anchovies and salt which are left to ferment for months. The anchovies break down into liquid, which is extracted, mixed with a small amount of sugar and bottled.
Fish sauce brings out the flavours of other ingredients and has quite a pungent smell that is reduced with cooking. If you find the smell of the sauce in a dish overwhelming, squeeze some lime juice over your meal.
See how easy it is to create Thai Cashew Chicken in the KitchenAid Cook Processor.
Coconut milk or cream is used in desserts and savoury Thai dishes. Coconut milk is wonderful at blending and mellowing out the stronger flavours in a dish.
Fresh coconut milk is made by rinsing the oils out of the coconut flesh with warm water. Alternatively, canned coconut milk is widely available in supermarkets.
Coconut cream is the base of most Thai curries. Heated at a very high temperature the cream will separate from the oil. The curry paste is then added and fried in the coconut oil releasing the herb and spice flavours. Finally, coconut milk is added to create the sauce.
Try using coconut milk and coconut cream using this delicious Thai Style Chicken And Coconut Soup recipe.
Love it or hate it, coriander is a versatile ingredient that features heavily in Thai cooking. It has a citrus earthy flavour and is a popular ingredient for seasoning curries and stir fries.
Every part of the coriander plant; leaves, stems, seeds and roots can be used and each offer a different flavour. Coriander steams and roots can be added early on in the cooking process to give a greater depth of flavour, whereas leaves are best added just before serving as the heat can dull the flavour.
At your next barbecque, add some spice with this Coriander Peppercorn And Lime Prawns recipe.
Fresh and dried chillies provide the punch in Thai cooking. Fiery hot Thai chillies, also known as birds-eye chillies, are used in sauces and stir fries. They are small in size and amongst the hottest in the world.
Thai chillies offer a fruity spicy taste and are often balanced out with lime. Dried red chilli is a feature of curry paste, soups and used as a garnish.
Turn up the heat by making your own sweet hot chilli sauce at home.
Both the leaves and the fruit of kaffir lime tree are used in Thai cooking. Kaffir lime leaves have an intense fragrance which is citrus and floral like and adds a zesty taste to curry and soups.
It is best to use fresh kaffir lime leaves as they lose their flavour quite quickly when they become dried. Fresh kaffir lime leaves can however be frozen in a zip lock bag and will retain their flavour for months.
A basic Thai curry paste is created by pulverising together peeled garlic, lemongrass, fresh turmeric, sea salt, shrimp paste and chilli.
Traditionally a mortar and pestle were used to grind the paste but the KitchenAid Magnetic Drive Blender is a far faster and easier method!
Green curry is flavoured with fresh green chilli and coriander, red is flavoured with dried red chilli and yellow with turmeric and ginger. Store bought pastes are widely available and generally very tasty. Curry paste is not only used to make curry but can also be used to add warmth and depth to many different dishes including noodles, stir-fries and Thai fish cakes.
Try adding homemade curry paste to these Thai Fish Cakes.