« back to encyclopedia search results
A style of Far-Eastern cookery virtually unknown in Britain until the mid 1960"s. Green Chicken Curry is now vying with Chicken Tikka Masala as a national dish.
In Thailand, cooking styles vary enormously from region to region - especially from north to south; but principle flavourings are coriander (leaf and root), ginger/galangal, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves - with chilis also playing a major role. Meals are built around rice, and this would be accompanied by a soup or soupy stew, a stir-fried dish and a salad-like dish - all served at the same time, and eaten either with the fingers or with a fork and spoon, the fork only being used to shove the food into the latter implement.
In place of soy sauce, the Thais rely on "Nam Pla" for their salty seasoning. This is a fermented fish product that includes the flavours of shrimp, anchovies and other fish - it is delicious in food, but better not smelt beforehand.
In the north of the country, pork reigns supreme, often served as a dark and hearty Indo-Burmese-style curry, with large chunks of meat being served with little balls of hard glutinous rice. The south is more vegetarian (or certainly prefers smaller animals, such as chicken or fish/prawns) - here curries are generally softened with coconut milk
The poor, in both areas would use a small meat-element to lubricate the vegetables and give another dimension.
Noodles are also eaten in enormous quantities, especially at lunchtime.
Throughout the country, women are the traditional cooks, and the wok the main cooking utensil - and in most Thai restaurants in Britain this still applies. But food in Thailand is often very fiery, and most curries served in our eating establishments have been adapted to what is manageable to the British palate.
There is a Thai saying " There is rice in the fields and fish in the water" - it means that all is well.