- Posted February 7, 2013 by
Thai dishes are all about balance of flavors. In each dish, care is taken that there’s the right balance of sour, bitter, sweet, and salty. This also applies to the entire meal. That’s why in one dish, there’s a variety of tastes and flavors in a harmonious result. Like many Asian cuisines, Thai cuisine has rice as the staple grain, especially the ever popular Jasmine rice, naturally aromatic long-grained rice that grows abundantly in Thailand. Steamed jasmine rice is delicious on its own. Sometimes, it is eaten side by side with main dish but there are times when curries and other meals may be poured on the rice resulting in a meal on its own. This dish is known as khao rat kaeng. Aside from jasmine rice, sticky rice is also popular and sometimes appears in the dessert course of the meal. Aside from rice, noodles are popular in Thailand, such as the famous Pad Thai, a noodle dish with vegetables, meat (usually chicken and shrimp), egg, and peanuts sprinkled with lime. Noodles also appear in soup form.
Tom yum, a hot and spicy soup made from tom yum paste, lemongrass, coriander (a must!), kaffir lime leaves, and fresh lime juice made spicy by fresh green chili. Restaurants serve variations of the tom yum soup, the popular one being Tom Yum Kung (shrimp). There is also seafood tom yum and mushroom tom yum, for vegetarians. This is a very richly-flavored soup that’s easy to prepare, like most Thai dishes. Curries and satays are popular as main courses and so are seafood like catfish and soft shell crab. Lemongrass is used in main courses and sometimes in beverages, such as lemongrass juice. Herbs such as Thai basil, cilantro, spearmint, curry, pepper, and kaffir lime leaves are popular ingredients, which contribute to the strong flavors.
Restaurants often serve red rubies as desserts. These are actually water chestnuts coated and dyed red to resemble rubies, the national gems of Thailand. These are served with shaved ice and sweetened condensed milk or as toppings to tako, coconut pudding set in cups of pandan leaf. Sticky rice with mango or khao niao mamuang, combines tart and sweet with mangoes, sticky rice, and coconut cream. Popular drinks are cha yen, or Thai iced tea, a strong but sweet orange beverage made of tea, water, sugar, and evaporated milk or coconut milk poured over ice. This probably has been the basis of popular milk teas served in many coffee shops and restaurants. Oliang, for coffee drinkers is a popular drink made up of coffee, soy beans, and corn.