Thai food history, and of course my Thai Curry

3 Nov

Until 1939, the country we call Thailand was known as Siam. It was the only Southeast Asian country never colonized by the West. This helped Thailand to maintain its own special cuisine (cooking style). However, that cuisine had already been influenced by Thailand’s Asian neighbors. Outside influences such as Chinese cooking methods, IE, the introduction of frying, be it stir frying or deep frying have become what is now probably Thailand’s favorite cooking method, especially stir frying and the use of the Wok.

From nearby India came not only the Buddhist religion, but also spicy seasonings such as cumin, cardamom, and coriander, as well as curry dishes. The Malays, to the south, further shared seasonings, as well as their love of coconuts and the satay.

From the 16th and 17th centuries onward, when the powerful European trading nations began establishing their trading routes between Europe and South East Asia the Thais were ideally placed to benefit from the introduction of some more ingredients which would contribute further to the development and history of Thai food. One such introduction is one which we would be forgiven for thinking as a very Thai commodity, “The Chili ” was actually introduced by Portuguese Missionaries who brought them over from South America in the 1600’s.

Overpowering pure spices were toned down and enhanced by fresh herbs such as lemon grass and galangal. Eventually, fewer and less spices were used in Thai curries, while the use of fresh herbs increased. It is generally acknowledged that Thai curries burn intensely, but briefly, whereas other curries, with strong spices, burn for longer periods. A typical Thai meal includes four main seasonings: salty, sweet, sour, and spicy, most Thai dishes are not considered satisfying unless they combine all four tastes. Instead of serving dishes in courses, a Thai meal is served all at once, permitting diners to enjoy complementary combinations of different tasters.

A proper Thai meal should consist of a soup, a curry dish with condiments, a dip with accompanying fish and vegetables. A spiced salad may replace the curry dish. The soup can also be spicy, but the curry should be replaced by a non-spiced item. There must be harmony of tastes and textures within individual dishes and the entire meal.

Green curry and red curry are easily the most popular curries, utilizing chili peppers, garlic, lemon grass, and coconut milk, among other essential herbs and spices. Green curry is made with fresh, young green chili’s, and is significantly hotter than other curries.

 Red curry is made with bigger red chili’s, which are not as hot as their green counterpart, but still packing significant heat. Green curry tends to lean toward a sweeter flavor, while red explores the savory side.

Yellow curry is highly aromatic and brightly colored due to roasted spices and an infusion of turmeric, and is typically paired with fish or poultry. The curry has a rich, bold taste, sweet with subtle hints of spices, and is effectively hot without being overpowering. Yellow curry hails from southern Thailand and is usually made with the addition of yellow peppers.

Masaman curry is by far the sweetest of all the curries, and is an excellent pairing with shrimp or chicken. A rich authentic flavor, usually with hints of tangy tamarind, this mildly hot curry is actually Indian-influenced, and is a popular favorite. A good introduction to curry if you are worried about trying something overly hot.

Panang Curry shares many of the same ingredients and is very similar in flavor to Red Curry, but for a slightly sweeter taste, and is slightly less fiery on the tongue. It is extremely flavorful when made with vegetarian dishes or stir-fries

My authentic red curry is made using chicken and the freshest of herbs, but for something more luxurious try it with “Tiger Prawns”,

 For info, ordering and pricing mail; simon.bingham@simons-sauces.com or call 0642297107

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