What should You Know about Thai Cooking

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thai_cThai cooking is the opposite of Western cuisine, where two or three flavors are blended in an elegant way to arrive at a distillation of the requisite flavors. Thai food creates a locus of flavors within each dish, through its components, producing a complexity that can be dazzling. Traditional recipes and methods are used, with modern alternatives included.

There is four fundamental classifications in Thai cooking: relish, soup, curry and salad.

The spicy relish, nahm prik, is the root of Thai cooking and from it stem other branches. Nahm prik and its gentler offshoot, Ion, are served with accompaniments that shoudl have contrasting textures and tastes. These can be as simple as a plate of raw vegetables, but may be much more complicated.

Soups not only contribute flavor, they soothe and refresh; soup is an indispensible part of the meal, countering complexities and often assuaging heat.

Curries reveal a huge range of flavors and techniques, showing that there is far more to Thai curries than the hot green or red generic versions that most people are accustomed to.

Salads are the easiest of dishes to prepare and their vibrancy invigorates the meal.

A formal meal usually consists of one of each of these dishes, with rice. In addition to these central dishes, a stir-fry or grilled meat or fish may be included. However, the Thai way of understanding their cooking is not so rigid or codified; they use techniques where appropriate and ingredients when available. How to do so correctly is instinctively understood, as are most aspects of culture. Thai cooking is inherently fluid and the boundaries are blurred.

In the recipes of this section, there are few concessions in the recipes, as they are included to act as references. Traditional recipes and methods are used, with modern alternatives included. Tastes and seasonings are described, so that if an alternative ingredient is used, a similar taste can be achieved. In order to innovate, a sound knowledge is a fundamental prerequisite. Recipes can be simplified and adapted but, in order to do so without debasting the cuisine, one must have a full apppreciation of what is to be altered before it can be adapted successfully. Thus the recipes should become a starting point, the beginning of possibilities, a departure.


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