About Thai Cuisine:
Thai food originated with those who emigrated from the southern Chinese provinces into modern day Thailand many centuries ago. Thai recipes demonstrate intricacy, attention to detail, texture, color and taste. There are Szechwan influences in Thai cuisine, although over the centuries many other regions have affected Thai food as well. For instance, Buddhist monks brought an Indian touch, and southern Muslim states influenced the cooking in the southern region of Thailand. Thai food was also influenced by European cuisine after contact with Portuguese missionaries and Dutch traders and there were even some influences from the Japanese. As a result of these influences, Thai food recipes consist of a remarkable blend of flavors- sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and spicy.
Presently, there are 4 distinct styles of cooking in Thailand, which can be found in Thai recipes.
Northern Thailand is comprised of jungle-covered mountains/ valleys and the food tends to be influenced from its seasonal and relatively cool climate. Northern Thai food tends to be less sweet and less spicy from the rest of the country. Northern-style curries are common as well as sticky rice and steamed vegetables.
Southern Thailand has an abundance of coconut trees and seafood, which influence the region’s cuisine. The food is popular outside of Thailand, as its coconut curries tend to be salty, sour and spicy. In Southern Thai cooking, most dishes consist of seafood rather than meat.
Northeast Thailand sits on a high plateau with porous soil. The food is heavily influenced by the Laos and Khmer cuisines of Cambodia. The dishes are salty, sour and spicy with the most famous dishes being salads (som tum, koi and larb.) Sticky rice and vegetables accompany most Northeastern dishes.
The central region of Thailand is a delta-like landscape with many rain-fed rivers flowing over flat terrain to create a fertile soil to allow for crop growth.
Central region cuisine tends to be salty, sour, spicy and sweet. Steamed Jasmine rice is preferred over sticky rice and commonly served with different types of chili dipping sauces and soups. The central region cuisine is special because it is home to royal cuisine. This originated in the royal palace and involves meals put together by complex techniques.
Banana Leaf: Fresh banana leaf is commonly used to wrap steamed fish and vegetables. The fresh banana leaf gives the Thai food an herbaceous flavor.
Dried Shrimp: This is a very common Thai food ingredient which adds a salty seafood taste to noodle and salad dishes.
Lime Leaf: It is a dark green and glossy leaf which adds a fragrant, herbal note to soups, fish cakes, curry and even tea.
Fish Sauce: (Nam Pla) This reddish-brown sauce is made up of salted fish and used in most Thai dishes.
Green Papaya (A substitute is the green mango): This is the key ingredient in som tum (Thailand’s popular spicy, crunchy salad.)
Lemon grass: It is chopped to form marinades, soups or stir-fries. Lemon grass is said to be good at curing digestive problems and all other common health problems.
Thai Basil: Thai Basil adds a subtle basil-meets-sweet anise flavor to dishes.
Thai Chile Peppers: The Thai Chile Peppers are commonly used in Thai food; they have a subtly fruity flavor. They are small, fiery green and red chile peppers.
Tamarind Pureẻ: They are made from fruit pods of the tamarind tree. It is sour, dark and sticky. Classic pod Thai is made from tamarind.
Turmeric: It is a yellow colored root commonly used in dishes of Muslim/Southern Thai origin and in Northern Thailand for Northern style curries.