Thai food is deliciously spicy, sweet and sour all at once, it’s like a party on our taste buds. The key to Thai cooking is finding the balance between these taste sensations and using seasonal, fresh produce.

We have a Thai cooking class scheduled for Saturday 4th June 2016 at 10.00 am. Why not join us for a fun-filled, inspirational morning of shared cooking, tips and ideas? We hold the classes in our store at Kitchen to Table. Call us on 02 6646 1577 to book your spot, or if you are tech savvy you can also book online here.

There are a few basic pantry items that will allow you to whip up a delicious Thai inspired meal in no time. Our top 5 pantry items are:

1. Fish sauce – essential for adding the ‘salt’ to Asian cooking. Keep it in the fridge once it has been opened. We like the Megachef brand for it’s flavour and quality.

Megachef Fish Sauce
A great quality fish sauce

2. Soy sauce – adds depth of flavour to Thai and Asian dishes. Use light soy for marinades and light meats such as chicken and fish. Choose dark soy when cooking red meats and when a stronger soy flavour is called for.

3. Sugar – in the form of palm sugar, brown sugar, white sugar, coconut sugar. Thai food does call for sugar as a way to balance the salty and sour flavours. Palm sugar adds colour and a delicious caramel tone to sauces and dressings. I like to buy the Pandaroo brand that comes in a roll with 4 individual discs of palm sugar. It’s firm but soft enough to shave off the disc with a sharp knife or to grate. If you don’t have this in your pantry, regular brown sugar is a perfect substitute.
White sugar can be used when you want sweetness without colour or flavour.
Coconut sugar is like the new kid on the block! Coconut sugar is produced from the coconut palm blossoms and is rich in minerals, and has a lower GI rating (35) than regular cane sugar. A great alternative to use in baking too.

Palm Sugar
Palm sugar is rich and dark

4. Jasmine rice – is long grained and fragrant … the perfect rice to compliment Thai food. A chef friend once told me that each cuisine has a complimentary rice, and that it’s not cool to mismatch your rice. As such he recommends we use Jasmine rice with Thai food, Basmati rice with Indian food, Aborio rice for risotto … I think you are getting the gist.

5. Roasted Peanuts or Cashews – add creaminess and crunch to salads, stir frys and curries. Could you imagine a satay without peanuts? We use nuts a lot in our cooking, they are absolutely essential in our opinion.

You will also need some fresh, zesty herbs and produce to ensure success with Thai cooking. Our top 5 are:

1. Lime – use both Kaffir lime (leaves and zest of the fruit), and regular limes (zest and juice) to add the sour element to Thai dishes. Lime also adds freshness and zing … an important ingredient to create a party for your taste buds.

Kaffir Lime
A unique variety of lime. The leaves are used extensively in Thai cooking.

2. Ginger – oh so warming and spicy. We love to use ginger in cooking, it has a fragrant and delicious flavour. Scour the markets for firm, smooth pieces of ginger. Finely grate or julienne and add to stir frys, curries and dressings. Ginger is a fabulous digestive so after a meal add a few slices to a cup of hot water and allow to steep for a few minutes before sipping. Your tummy will love you for it!

Ginger
Ginger is so warming and spicy.

3. Lemongrass – adds a flavour and fragrance to Thai cooking that is purely lemongrass, there really isn’t any substitute. We use the stem mostly, the innermost part, in Thai marinades and curry pastes. We also love to use it as a skewer to delicately perfume the meat that’s threaded onto it. It’s really easy to grow but keep it in a pot to contain it, otherwise it will take over your garden. The leaves can be added to the pot to delicately flavour your Jasmine rice as it cooks, or steep in hot water for a delicious herbal tea.

Lemongrass
A fragrant and refreshing flavour integral to Thai cooking.

4. Chilli – adds the heat to Thai dishes. Red, green, short and long varieties are all used in Thai cooking. Generally speaking the short chillies, or birds eye, are hotter than the longer varieties so a little goes a long way. If you have a glut of chillies simply place them whole in a zip lock back and pop them in the freezer till you need them. Slice or chop them with a serrated knife while they are still frozen for ease of handling.

5. Coriander – the whole herb is used in Thai cooking, from the leaves to the stem to the root. In fact, the stem and root contains the most flavour. Pound the root and stem in curry pastes and marinades. The leaves are wonderful in salads and for garnishing. Coriander is another ingredient with an undeniable flavour that simply has no substitute.

 Coriander
A vital ingredient in Thai cooking.

So there you have it, our top 10 ingredients for Thai cooking. Want to learn more? Then join me for a fun-filled, inspirational cooking class on Saturday 4th June 2016 at 10.00 am. We hold the classes in our store at Kitchen to Table. Call the store on 02 6646 1577 to book your spot, or if you are tech savvy you can also book online.

Happy cooking 🙂