Friday, January 20, 2012

Thai Cuisine, It's Whats For Supper

Over the past several months I have grown fond of Thai Cuisine. I have always enjoyed Asian food on occasion, it’s not the kind of food that I desire on a regular basis, but when I am in the mood, few cuisines satisfy me and excite my taste buds as Asian food. I have never really thought about what separates Thai food from other Asian cuisines, but I just know that lately if I had to choose between Thai, Chinese, or Japanese: Thai wins every time.

I have dabbled somewhat with preparing some Thai stir fries at home, but up until now my actual experience has been limited to very basic dishes utilizing kits and store bought sauces/condiments. On a recent shopping excursion to Trader Joe’s I picked up some frozen Thai stir-fry vegetables, a bottle of Pad Thai Sauce, some spicy pepper peanut oil and some Sriracha hot chili sauce. I stopped off at the seafood store and secured some delectable and succulent sea scallops and headed for home to prepare some Thai Stir Fry with Scallops over aromatic Jasmine Rice. Quick, simple and D-Lish.

The nicest aspect of cooking most Asian foods is that when the cooking is complete, there aren’t a bunch of pots and pans to wash, the Wok is an amazing implement and when preparing Thai Stir Fry you are basically preparing a 4 course meal in a single dish.

When I wish to learn more about a subject, Google is my best friend so when I decided that it was time for me to improve my knowledge about Thai Cuisine; naturally I turned to my laptop and began to do some research. What I discovered was that my cooking philosophies are somewhat closely aligned with the philosophies and traditions behind Thai food preparation. I also discovered that there is a reason that Thai food seems to be more satisfying and appealing to me than other types of Asian food.

First off, Thai Food is influenced greatly by its neighbors, China and India. In fact, the cornerstone of good Thai cooking comes from ancient Chinese cuisine and makes use of the five fundamental tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and spicy. The combination of all five of these flavors into different ingredients or courses of within the same dish accounts for that unique experience that is Thai Cuisine. Upon researching Thai Cuisine and some basic techniques I have discovered that another characteristic of preparing Thai food closely matches my own cooking methodology. You won’t find many measuring cups being used by Thai Chefs. Consequently another guiding principle of the cuisine is balance. An accomplished Thai cook relies on taste and experience to guide them in the addition of spices and ingredients rather than measuring devices. That also accounts for why Thai food is always a thrill to the senses, whether the dish is predominantly hot and spicy or sweet and sour, each chef will instill his or her own unique tastes and flavor to their signature dishes resulting in the preparation of Thai food being somewhat of an art. Perhaps that is what accounts for my preference of Thai Cuisine over other Asian foods. At any rate, I look forward to learning more about Thai cooking and hopefully I will be preparing my own sauces and curries in no time at all. But in the meantime, even cheating with store bought sauces is quite tasty.

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