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Thai Cuisine and Recipes

Thai Recipes and cooking


Cooking by Country - November 2004



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Whilst Thai cooking has evolved due  to  cultural influences from other countries,  it has still retained its unique qualities of combining hot, sour, sweet and salty flavours, which makes it an altogether tempting and exciting culinary experience to most westerners.  


Certainly in the UK, Thai cuisine has become very popular in the past 10 years, initially with the opening of many restaurants but now with Thai ingredients being available to buy.



Ancient Times, History and Influences on Thai Cooking


Situated in Asia with  China to the north and Muslim Malaysia to the south one would naturally expect these two cultures to have influenced Thai cuisine. But Thai cuisine has also been  greatly influenced by  western European  culture. 


In the mid 1660's,  Thai food took another great leap. Foreigners and trades arrived in Thailand and with them brought new ways of cooking as well as new ingredients. For example, at that time Thais did not use coconut milk in their savoury recipes. It was these Westerners who, used to milk in their foods,  suggested the addition of coconut milk into Thai curries. After a while the use of coconut milk in curries became the norm in Thailand. 


Traditionally, their main methods of cooking were grilling and boiling but  as more  Chinese migrated to Thailand (in particular the Fukienese) bringing their "stir-frying" tradition with them,  by the mid 1800's Thai cooking  included this way of preparing food. The Chinese also introduced Noodles to Thailand, rice having been the mainstay.



Current Day Thai Cuisine


Starters and Desserts are not usually served at everyday meals. Appetisers  are sometimes served during the day as a "snack" and desserts are usually only served at banquets.


Unsurprisingly, cooking varies from region to region.  Northern cuisine is strongly influenced by the climate. Curries  are cooked in creamy  coconut milk the fat-rich content offering warmth in the cool weather of the mountainous region. 


The central region of Thailand is the most fertile area with fresh water supplied by the Chao Phraya River. Whilst rice is the chief produce grown in this region  a wide variety of other  vegetables are grown in this area which  is key to the region's variety of delicious cuisine.


In the south the locals believe that living in the humid climate along the  coastline can make them sick and that the heat from food can protect them from fevers so the food here tends to be more hot and spicy. Connected to Malaysia, the region has naturally adopted some Islamic culture into its culinary realm. For example, Turmeric is extensively used which gives many southern dishes a yellowish look. Surrounded by water, they are  able to enjoy an abundance of seafood throughout the year.



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