What makes Thai dishes authentic?
If you have tasted Thai dishes you are likely to discover that it has the strong taste of Basil and lime leaves. The dishes are pungent with a sweetest tinge.
Once you have developed the taste for Thai cuisine, there is no going back. Long after you have returned to your own hometown, the taste haunts you. You have to learn to cook.
During my visits to Bangkok, eating street food is a must. The food sold in carts is spicy and nutritious. You walk down the street, the weather is warm and the whiff of flavors surrounds you till you drool. You don’t care about the hygiene, not the pollution nor noise, stopping and taking a bite is unavoidable.
There is a dip that I particularly like and it compliments number of salads and freshly grilled seafood. It is called Yum sauce and this is the finger licking combination of sugar, garlic, chili, coriander leaves, lime juice and fish sauce. This yum sauce can be relished with grilled meat or seafood or it can be poured over freshly cut salads to add zing to the meal.
Cooking Thai food is very easy and quick to make. My fridge is always stocked with few essential ingredients that include oyster sauce, fish sauce, chili, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, basil leaves, limejuice and coconut powder
I have a habit of marinating chicken in small portions and storing them. It is difficult to order home service of the frozen/fresh chicken in small quantity. But I cannot eat one kilo in one go, right? I normally divide one kilo of chicken into four portions and I marinate each portion differently, Chinese sauce, Indian curd masala, tandoori masala and other just garlic-ginger-onion-chili paste.
Last week I entered my kitchen with no plans on what I would cook. There was marinated chicken in the fridge. I picked up the chicken portion marinated in garlic-ginger-onion-chili paste.
Still unsure, I started to stir fry the marinated chicken in 2 tablespoons of oil. The chicken became light brown on both sides. I added 2 glasses of water and let it cook.
I opened my fridge to see what I could add.
There was Tom Yum chicken cube, kaffir lime leaves, coconut powder and the decision was made to make chicken Thai style.
Added the kaffir lime leaves and Tom Yum chicken cube into the stock, then looked for veggies to add and grinned ear-to-ear when I discovered I had all the veggies that I would need.
Started to chop vegetables like carrots, capsicum, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, shallots, basil leaves and green beans.
Added the veggies that take some time to become tender, veggies like chopped carrots, mushrooms and green beans to the stock.
Added red chili powder and lime juice to the stock
Dissolved coconut milk powder in half cup of warm water and added to the stock.
Finally added veggies that require just steam, veggies like broccoli, shallots, basil leaves, cabbage and capsicum.
Added few drops of fish sauce.
Covered the pan for two minutes then sat down to relish with it white rice.
The experience in cooking teaches you to add the ingredients as you wish, and tasting several times helps you decide its’ correct taste. Thai cuisine is the moderate combination of sweet, sour and spicy. I don’t use salt in Thai cuisine, fish sauce and Tom Yum cube is quite salty.
But for those who want some reference to quantity, you could add ingredients as:
1 small onion
2tbsp lemon juice
Few drops of fish sauce
1 Tom Yum chicken cube
7-8 kaffir lime leaves
8-9 red chilies
1tsp red chili powder
50grms coconut powder
2 florets of broccoli
10-15 basil leaves
4 strings of green beans
Makes enough for 2 persons
There is red and green Thai curry paste available at a grocery store that can be used for preparation of this curry. I have a family in Bangkok, who knows my taste and they do bring for me the freshly prepared Thai curry paste from the market. This masala has to be fried with spring onions and garlic before using in the recipes or else it might taste bitter. This paste can be used instead of Tom Yum chicken cube that I have used in this recipe.