Thereâ??s a misconception that Thai food is just a colorful name for "spicy Chinese." The cuisine was indeed influenced originally by the Eastern culture, adopting its tendencies of blending the contrasting tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
There’s a misconception that Thai food is just a colorful name for "spicy Chinese." The cuisine was indeed influenced originally by the Eastern culture, adopting its tendencies of blending the contrasting tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It was also affected dramatically by neighboring India and Burma. Now Thai food is a unique and distinct cuisine, reflecting a history of Thailand as the only country in Southeast Asia never to have been colonized by a Western power!
Thai cooking is one of the most intricate in the world. Its goal is a subtle balance between tastes and textures with great emphasis on presentation and color. Wilasinee ("Wila") Vareevanich, owner of Boa Thong Thai Restaurant in Penticton, BC, believes it to be one of the healthiest because of the spices.
"A lot of the spice that we use is very good for the blood," she says.
Raw foods in Thai cuisine supply valuable nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and nutrients from organically-grown tofu and added benefits from a diversity of special herbs. Each is excellent for supporting various aspects of health, such as the immune system, circulation and digestion.
Here are some of Thailand’s most common herbs and their health benefits:
Thai cuisine is a flexible food. The recipes have descended from prior generations only by word of mouth. Measurements and ingredients aren’t exact but are improvised along the way as each new chef adds his own personal modifications. Detailed attention is paid to pleasing the eye, nose and taste buds.
The culture is strong with the sharing of food. All courses are served at once or in close succession, placed in the centre of the table. A small serving from one dish–with the staple rice--is eaten, then the next and so on. Thai people seldom use chopsticks; they’re more apt to be found using forks and spoons or even their hands.
Raw foods retain the "heat" more than cooked. Lemon grass and lime leaves act as "refrigerants," helping to reduce body temperature and relieve thirst. However, you may wish to be liberal with chili peppers, taking rice with each bite to help tone down the spiciness.
The following recipes are merely a guide. Feel free to play around with them depending on your own health choices, and don’t be shy to improvise. It only takes a little effort to produce terrific results. Discover the essence of the Thai culture and enjoy an exciting and unique dining experience. Sawadee! (Thai greeting with a number of meanings, one of which is "good luck!")
Thai-Style Tofu Salad
Spicy Thai-Style Salad