==== ====Order Thai Groceries from home!onlineasiamarket.com==== ====Like Thai Food? Love to cook? Perhaps your first attempt did not turn out like in the picture ortaste like at the restaurant. Well, do not give up on cooking Thai food. Some Thai dishes mayseem difficult because of a long list of ingredients and instructions. Thai cooking is all aboutingredients and preparation. In Thailand, frozen or canned food is not very common. Thais lovefresh ingredients. Thailand is one of the lucky countries in the world that has abundant vegetables,exotic fruit, seafood, etc. There is a well-known verse in Thailand describing abundant foodresources: "Nai Nam Mee Pla Nai Na Mee Khao" which means "In river, there is fish, in the field,there is rice." This article will start with some general tips and then move in to specific tips for eachfood category.IngredientsIngredients are the most important part of authentic Thai cooking. If you live in Thailand or inSoutheast Asia, finding fresh Thai ingredients is easy. But if you live somewhere else, finding freshingredients can be difficult or troublesome especially for those who do not live in a city. If youdecide to make Thai dishes, first invest a little of your time getting to know the ingredients. Thenfind the nearest Asian grocery store. If you like, call to see if they carry ingredients you are lookingfor. For instance, if you are looking for "Winter Melon", not all Asian grocery stores carry it. If youprefer, buying online can safe you driving time. If you cannot find fresh ingredients, try frozen andcanned foods. In my opinion, most frozen products are the next best thing to fresh food. Forinstance, stir-fried shredded ginger with pork has two main ingredients: shredded ginger and pork.Shredded ginger? Sounds like lots of work to use fresh ginger. One might try a jar or can, but thetaste and aroma of the ginger are not the same as the fresh version. It is not difficult to makeshredded ginger if you have the right peeler. Try your best to find fresh produce, as it will be agood start to cooking authentic Thai dishes.EquipmentThais use a wok and pot in most dishes with the exception of desserts. For desserts, it is notrequired but it is recommended to use a bronze wok (Ka Ta Thong Lueng). Other commonequipment includes a mortar and pestle. In Thailand, gas stoves are the most commonly used.Electric stoves are uncommon and not very popular because heat may not be distributed evenly.Regarding the mortar and pestle, it depends on ones desire. If you are going to cook Thai dishesvery often, a mortar and pestle can become handy in your kitchen. Otherwise, using typical kitchentools like a knife and cutting board can accomplish the same goal. Food processors or blendersare another option when it comes to making pastes.Preparation
Preparation is also one of the keys to authentic Thai cooking. As mentioned above, Thai foodfocuses largely on ingredients and preparation. Preparation in particular is essential to authenticThai food. You may spend more time preparing ingredients than you actually spend cooking. Forinstance, it may take about 30 minutes to prepare all ingredients for Tom Kha Gai but you onlyspend about 15 minutes cooking. A typical Thai dinner consists of 4-5 communal dishes. It maytake up to 2 hours to prepare all ingredients, but only 1 hour to make. A few reasons followregarding why Thais spend more time on preparation. Thais like their meat in bite size pieces.Fresh vegetables require time to wash, cut and maybe pad dry. Pounding spices and fresh herbsis also common for many dishes. Some desserts like Ta Go (sweet on the bottom layer with saltycoconut topping in a pandanus basket) require lots of time in preparation starting from cleaningand cutting leaves and then making baskets. Depending on the amount of Ta Go you are making,it can take up to hours just to make those tiny baskets. Dont be discouraged by this because afterpreparation, the wonderful dishes are right around the corner!Cooking to Your TasteThe art of Thai cooking has placed emphasis on the harmonious blending of various ingredients,particularly as the individual ingredients can vary by freshness and so on. Without harmony thetaste and the dish fall short. The five elements of taste in Thai food are: sweet, salty, sour, spicyand bitter. When cooking Thai dishes, one may follow a recipe, but use it as a guideline when itcomes to taste. Taste varies for each individual, sometimes in response to variables such asingredient quality or occasion, and thus the tastes of the recipe author may or may not reflectones own taste. Following a recipe is a good idea, but when it comes to taste follow your ownpreference. Know your ingredients and start adding flavorful items in small amounts. For instance,when it comes to curry pastes and fish sauce, some brands are saltier than others. Most Thaidishes can be fixed to some extent. If it is too sweet, adding a little bit of fish sauce will fix theproblem and vice versa. If it is too sour, add a little bit of water; sugar or fish sauce will help.Coconut MilkThai food and coconut milk almost always go together. Many dishes require Hua Ka Ti (firstpressed coconut milk or creamy coconut milk) and/or Hang Ka Ti (second or third pressed milk orwater-like coconut milk). To make fresh coconut milk, finely grated coconut meat is still steeped inwarm water, not hot water. It is then squeezed until dry. The white fluid from the first press iscalled "Hua Ka Ti". Warm water is then added again to make the second and third pressedcoconut milk, which is called "Hang Ka Ti." Finely grated coconut meat is generally used about 3times and then discarded. Freshly pressed coconut milk has a better taste and aroma thancommercial coconut milk in a can.If you use canned coconut milk, you will need to have a can at a cold temperature because coldtemperatures help separate the creamy coconut part and the water-like part. The creamy coconutmilk will float to the top of the can. During hot weather, you may want to leave a can of coconutmilk in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.Fried RiceGood fried rice is not difficult to make. The most important part is the steamed rice. The riceshould be cooked but firm, not mushy and soft. If steamed rice is soft and mushy, when it is stir-
fried it will all stick together. Good rice in fried rice should be easy to break up and the grainsshould stay intact. So to make the steamed rice, make sure you use a little less water than normalso that the rice is dryer than normal. Keeping rice in a refrigerator for 2-3 days is anotheralternative, but if your rice is mushy and soft after those 2-3 days, the fried rice will also still clumptogether. Other keys to making good fried rice are using a wok and high heat. Heat must be evenlydistributed and consistently hot all thel time. A wok is recommended for making fried rice but notrequired.CurryThere are two main types of Thai curries: coconut-based and non-coconut based. Those whichuse coconut milk mostly have similar initial steps which include separating the coconut oil andmixing curry paste into coconut milk. These first 2 steps are keys to perfecting your curry dishes.For instance, if you are making green curry, red curry, matsaman, or kaeng kari, the very first stepis bringing Hua Ka Ti (first pressed milk or creamy coconut milk) to a boil until the oil starts toseparate. You do not want to boil too long because you will break Hua Ka Ti and it will look likelittle white balls. After adding curry paste into the coconut milk, stir until the green or red oilseparates and floats to the top. Frequently stirring curry paste is required because you do not wantto burn the paste. Curry paste may stick to a cooking spoon, so make sure to remove it from thespoon. During this process, if Hua Ka Ti is getting dry, add 3-4 tablespoons of Hua Ka Ti at a timeto keep the curry paste from burning. After adding vegetables, do not overcook them.Stir-friedMost stir-fried dishes take a short time to cook, especially stir-fried vegetables. The main key tomost stir-fired dishes is heat. Heat must be evenly distributed throughout the wok or pan. Mostrecipes will suggest to heat up vegetable oil. In this step, one must make sure that the oil is hotand spread all over the wok (up to the side) or pan. In some dishes, after adding meat and/orvegetables, the pan or wok starts to get drier, so one may add a little bit of water so that the foodwont get burned. For vegetables, make sure they are not overcooked.DessertsThai desserts are not too difficult to make. Some may be easier than others. Some require morepatience and time than others. Many Thai desserts require one to use the same ingredients, andsubstitutes are not recommended. For instance, if Khanom Ta Go asks for mung bean flour, otherflour substitutes usually wont work well. Khanom Bua Loy requires sticky rice flour, and one maynot use multipurpose flour or tapioca flour or some other types of flour. In some desserts likepotato in ginger syrup, one can use mixed types of potatoes. Khanom Kaeng Buat can consist oftaro, potato and/or pumpkin. When making Thai desserts, read instructions carefully.Ingredients and preparation are the keys to cooking authentic Thai food. Some of the first fewdishes in particular may require patience. However, once you have gotten to know Thaiingredients more and more, you will find how easy it is to cook authentic Thai food. As for Thaidesserts, some are very simple and easy to make and you can perfect them the first time you try.Some desserts may take practice and time to develop certain skills. Do not be discouraged byrecipe directions or how beautiful a picture of a dish might be. When you decide to cook authenticThai food, gather up some friends and enjoy your cooking. Have fun!
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