A look at the cuisine of Thailand
Like with all cusine in a certain geography, each respective nation puts their own twist on a style and Thai food is no exception. Aromatic, spicy and full of flavor. These characteristics have helped define Thai food. While non-foodie Americans know Thai cuisine through the popular dish, “Pad-Thai,” Thai food dives much deeper than that especially to natives.
Let me help impress your dinner guests the next time they come over with a full six-course meal from Man of the Hour:
First Course: Bread
To start off the meal right, let’s make bread, but not just any bread, Thai Roti Bread. This bread is made with a base of flour and milk and is best served with some sort of curry.
- All purpose flour / Maida – 1 1/2 cup
- Salt – 3/4 tsp
- Sugar – 3/4 tsp
- Vegetable Oil / Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
- Baking Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Warm Water – 1/4 cup
- Warm Milk – 1/4 cup (Coconut milk for vegan version)
- Butter / Olive oil – for cooking rotis
- In large bowl, add flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and mix well.
- Now add the oil, warm water, warm milk and mix to form smooth and semi stiff dough. If the dough is very dry then add little more water or milk.
- Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.
- Dust the working surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.
- Roll each portion into 6 inch disk. See that the roti is not too thick or too thin.
- Heat the pan / tava. brush it with butter. Cook the roti until it bubbles on one side and then flip it, again brush with some butter and cook till it becomes golden brown.
- Repeat the process for remaining portions of the dough.
- Thai Roti Bread is now ready. Serve hot with tofu bhurji and enjoy.
Course Number Two: Salad
For a light second course (to counterbalance the hearty nature of the bread and curry combo,) try this light and refreshing Thai cucumber salad at your next dinner party, courtesy of allrecipes.com
- 3 large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- Toss the cucumbers with the salt in a colander, and leave in the sink to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water, then drain and pat dry with paper towels.
- Whisk together the sugar and vinegar in a mixing bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cucumbers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro; toss to combine. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top before serving.
Third Course: Soup
Thai is known for its use of coconut, so for your next dinner party try this delicious Thai coconut soup recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com to give a sweet finish going into the main entrees.
- tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 stalk lemon grass, minced
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 3 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk
- 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 pound medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the ginger, lemongrass, and curry paste in the heated oil for 1 minute. Slowly pour the chicken broth over the mixture, stirring continually. Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar; simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and mushrooms; cook and stir until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp; cook until no longer translucent about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice; season with salt; garnish with cilantro.
Entrée one: Pork
To allow our palettes a bit of a spice, I decided to pull a slow-cooked pork over rice recipe. This dish will diversify your patron’s palettes and showcase exactly why you are fit to run a dinner party.
- 1 (3 pound) pork shoulder roast
- 2 red bell peppers, julienned
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/3 cup low-sodium teriyaki sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 cups uncooked long grain white rice
- 6 cups water
- 1/4 cup unsalted peanut butter
- 1 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- Place the pork roast, red bell peppers, garlic, teriyaki sauce, and rice wine vinegar in a slow cooker. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
- Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low.
- In a pot, bring the rice and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes.
- Remove meat from slow cooker, and shred. Stir the peanut butter into the slow cooker. Return shredded meat to slow cooker, and mix with the sauce to coat. Serve over the cooked rice with a sprinkling of peanuts and green onions.
Second entrée: Pad Thai
Let me help you appease your dinner guest with a recipe for “Authentic Pad-Thai” (although it’s not made in Thailand so how authentic is it?)
- 12 ounces dried rice noodles
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced into thin strips
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup coarsely ground peanuts
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon paprika, or to taste
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with several inches of room temperature water; let soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain.
- Whisk sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, and tamarind paste in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir until chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil and minced garlic in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir in eggs; scramble until eggs are nearly cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add cooked chicken breast slices and rice noodles; stir to combine.
- Stir in tamarind mixture, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, and salt; cook until noodles are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in peanuts; cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with bean sprouts, chives, paprika, and lime wedges.
Dessert: Sticky Rice
Finally, once again, let’s end this meal on a sweet note with nothing better than a classic Thai dessert; Mango Sticky Rice.
- 1 cup Thai Sweet Rice (also called 'sticky rice' OR 'glutinous rice', available at Asian food stores
- 1-2 ripe mangoes (for mango buying and prep. tips, see below)
- 4-5 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 can good-quality (not 'lite') coconut milk
- Soak rice in 1 cup water for 20-30 minutes. Do not drain the rice. Add 1/2 cup more water, plus 1/2 can coconut milk, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Stir well.
- Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Reduce heat to medium-low, or just until you get a gentle simmer.
- Simmer 20-30 minutes, or until coconut-water has been absorbed by the rice. Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner with the lid on tight. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
- To make the sauce, warm (do not boil) the rest of the can of coconut milk over medium-low heat (5 minutes). Add 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, stirring to dissolve.
- Taste-test sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. (note that it will taste less sweet when added to the rice).
- Prepare mango by cutting it open and slicing into bite-size pieces. Scoop some warm rice into each serving bowl, then drizzle lots of the sweet coconut sauce over. It should look like an English pudding with custard sauce, with the rice swimming in sauce. Arrange mango slices over the rice and drizzle over more sauce. Enjoy!
For Even Saucier Rice: Prepare the mango. Once the sauce is warm in the sauce pan, add several scoops of rice directly to the pan.
Keep it in clumps, gently turning in the sauce to saturate all sides. Transfer to serving bowls, then top with the mango and any remaining sauce.