Monthly Archives: August 2018

All About Thai Curry

All About Thai Curry
There are many kinds of Thai curry dishes, from non-spicy to very spicy. This article groups many of the more well-known curry dishes, while giving examples of dishes as well as introductory lists of ingredients and cooking methods.
When people hear the words “Thai Curry”, the first thing that comes to their mind is some spicy coconut milk with curry paste. This is not totally true. Thais say “Kaeng” which means “Curry”. However, Kaeng in Thailand does not only mean curry, but it means the cooking process of mixing various kinds of vegetables with liquid like water or coconut milk. It can be spicy or non-spicy or a vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish like soup, stew, curry or even dessert. I will use the word “Kaeng” throughout this article. In Thailand, there are 2 types of Kaeng: Kaeng Jued and Kaeng Ped. Ped literally means spicy and Jued means tasteless. Kaeng Jued usually refers to non-spicy soup dishes.Kaeng JuedKaeng Jued dishes are usually comprise of broth, vegetables and meat. Homemade broth is preferred over bouillon cubes. Broth is made from boiling pork ribs or chicken bones in water for a long period of time. You will often hear Thais say “nam soup” which means broth. To make broth, the bones should have a little bit of meat and fat left on them. On low heat, boil meat in water. Once the boil begins, reduce heat to its lowest point so that the broth just barely simmers. The longer the simmering, the more flavor you will get. One and a half to two hours usually is enough to extract flavors from meats. Before using broth, straining is a must. In Thai cooking, some recipes would add Chinese cellery or white radish during the simmering to add more sweetness to the broth.The clear broth then will be used in a different kind of Kaeng Jued. A common way to make Kaeng Jued is to 1) bring broth to boil 2) add meat, 3) add vegetables and 4) add flavor. Example Kaeng Jued dishes are:

  • Kaeng Jued Fak: chicken/pork broth with winter melon
  • Kaeng Jued Mara: chicken/pork broth with bitter melon
  • Kaeng Jued Mara Yat Sai: chicken/pork broth with stuffed bitter melon
  • Kaeng Jued Pla Muek Yat Sai: chicken/pork broth with stuffed squid
  • Kaeng Jued Taeng Gwa: chicken/pork broth with cucumber
  • Kaeng Jued Taeng Gwa Yat Sai: chicken/pork broth with stuffed cucumber
  • Kaeng Jued Tao Hu: chicken/pork broth with bean curd
  • Kaeng Jued Wun Sen: chicken/pork broth with clear noodles

Kaeng PedMost Kaeng Ped dishes differ in degree of spiciness. Some are very spicy and some are mild. Some have coconut milk and some do not. Kaeng Ped can be categorized into 6 different types: Kaeng Ped, Kaeng Khua, Kaeng Liang, Kaeng Som, Tom Yum and Pad Ped.1) Kaeng PedIt can be confusing that Kaeng Ped is a subcategory of Kaeng Ped. There are 2 distinct types of Kaeng Ped: Kaeng Ped with coconut milk and Keang Ped without coconut milk. The key to a delicious Kaeng Ped is curry paste. Either homemade or commercial curry paste must be finely ground. Fish sauce and sugar are the two main ingredients to flavor Kaeng Ped dishes.Examples of water-based curry dishes are:

  • Kaeng Hang Le: Northern style curry with meat, curry powder, lemongrass, ginger, shallots, shrimp paste, chilies and peanuts
  • Kaeng Pa: jungle curry, Northen curry. This curry is hot and full of flavor from fingerroot, kaffir lime zest, lemon grass, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and chilies
  • Kaeng Leung: hot yellow curry, most common meat used is fish. Other ingredients are winter melon, chilies, garlic, turmeric, lemon grass, shallots and shrimp paste.

Examples of coconut-based curry dishes are:

  • Kaeng Daeng: red curry with meat, bamboo shoots, Thai sweet basil, kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk
  • Kaeng Kari: Indian style curry with meat, potatoes and coconut milk
  • Kaeng Kiaw Waan: a slightly sweet green curry with meat, Thai eggplants, pea eggplants, winter melon, Thai sweet basil (Bai Horapa), kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk
  • Kaeng Matsaman: curry with meat, potatoes, peanuts and coconut milk (a mild curry from the Muslim Southern part of Thailand)
  • Kaeng Phed: spicy curry with meat and chilies

2) Kaeng KhuaKaeng Khua curry paste makes this curry dish distinct and different from Kaeng Ped dishes. Kaeng Khua curry paste has either deep-fried fish, grilled fish or dried small shrimp as part of its ingredients. Most Kaeng Khua will not have added spices because of its strong aroma. The typical flavors of this curry are sweet, sour and salty. The most common meat is fish, shrimp or clam. Main added ingredients typically used in this curry can be pineapple, mushrooms or winter melon. Other ingredients are galangal, kaffir lime zest, dried chilies, lemon grass and shrimp paste.Some people might confuse Kaeng Khua and Kaeng Pa because they look similar and both are coconut-based curry. However, both use different curry paste and Kaeng Pa mostly has only a salty taste.3) Kaeng LiangMany say Kaeng Liang is Thai vegetarian curry. The main ingredients of this curry are vegetables, usually there is no meat. Some recipes may add chicken or shrimp. However, if we look at Kaeng Liang curry paste, this dish is not vegetarian. Part of Kaeng Liang curry paste is dried shrimp paste (ka pi), dried shrimp and deep-fried fish or grilled fish. This curry is a water-based curry that is quite thick. The most common vegetables are sponge gourd (buab liam), gourd leaves (bai tam leung), “hairy” basil (bai Maeng Luk) and baby corn.4) Kaeng Som Kaeng Som is a water-based curry that in flavor combines sour, saltiness and a little sweetness. The common meat used in this curry is fish or shrimp. Some recipes use clams. Common vegetables are morning glory (phak bueng), bottle gourd (phak nam tao), water mimosa (phak kra ched), Vegetable Humming Bird (dok kae), cabbage (kra lum plee) and juice-based tamarind. Other ingredients are shrimp paste, dried shrimp and shallots. The famous Kaeng Som is Kaeng Som Pla Chon Phak Kra Ched which has striped snakehead (pla chon) and water mimosa (phak kra ched) as main ingredients.5) Tom YumTom Yum is a hot and sour soup. Tom Yum soup dishes have lots of herbs and meat as the main ingredients. Few vegetables are used in Tom Yum soup, although usually included are oyster mushrooms or straw mushrooms. Common herbs used in Tom Yum soup are kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, chilies and coriander roots. The common meats used in Tom Yum soup are chicken, shrimp and fish. The ingredients used in flavoring Tom Yum are lemon juice, tamarind juice, sugar and fish sauce.Tom Yum soup can also be categorized into 2 different types: coconut-based Tom Yum soup and water/broth-based Tom Yum soup. Examples of Tom Yum soup dishes are:

  • Tom Kha Gai: coconut-based hot and sour soup with chicken
  • Tom Kha Pla Duk: coconut-based hot and sour soup with catfish
  • Tom Kha Ta Le: coconut-based hot and sour soup with seafood
  • Tom Yum Gai: water/broth-based hot and sour soup with chicken
  • Tom Yum Goong: water/broth-based hot and sour soup with prawn
  • Tom Yum Hua Pla: water/broth-based hot and sour soup with fish head
  • Tom Yam Moo Pa: water/broth-based hot and sour soup with boar

6) Pad PedPad Ped is similar to Kaeng Ped; however, Pad Ped dishes use less coconut milk or water than Kaeng Ped. Thus Pad Ped is more like a stir-fried dried curry paste dish with meat and vegetables. Example vegetables are Thai eggplants, yard long beans, bamboo shoots and pea eggplants. Two main ingredients used in flavoring Pad Ped dishes are fish sauce and sugar. Example dishes are:

  • Pad Ped Moo Tao Fak Yao: stir-fried red curry paste with pork and yard long beans
  • Pad Ped Pla Duk: stir-fried catfish with chili paste
  • Phanaeng Gai: stir-fried phanaeng curry paste with chicken and kaffir lime leaves
  • Phanaeng Moo: stir-fried phanaeng curry paste with pork and kaffir lime leaves
  • Phanaeng Nuea: stir-fried phanaeng curry paste with beef and kaffir lime leaves

The example dishes listed above are famous dishes in Thailand. Of course, there are more dishes than I can name here. “Kaeng” has more than just the one meaning of spicy curry like many believe about Thai curry. Thais even use the word “Kaeng” in desserts like Kaeng Buat. Kaeng Buat is a dessert that has pumpkin, taro and/or potatoes in coconut milk. Most Thai restaurants in the U.S offer coconut-based Kaeng Ped, Pad Ped and Tom Yum soup. If you have a chance to visit Thailand, I hope you will have a chance to enjoy all different kinds of Kaeng.

Best Leisure Destinations in Thailand

Best Leisure Destinations in Thailand

Thailand, most commonly known as the Land of Smiles, is a jewel of Southeast Asia developed to endow with most comforts. It is wild enough to offer off-the-beaten path adventure. The beautiful country has given new dimensions to tourism by offering the best of nightlife, in which go-go bars, ladyboy shows, bars, spas, clubs, restaurants and young girls keep one busy in a more during attractive Thailand holidays. It is a country where you will get once-in-a-lifetime travel experience and will love to explore the country again and again. Not to mention world-class beaches in the south, mountain villages in the north and vibrant cities of Pattaya, Bangkok and different other destinations. Planning for booking one of the best Thailand tour packages is an ideal decision to hunt the nature and take break from your routine life that sometimes seems boring.

Why Visit Thailand – Some Good Reasons Are Here?
Fabulous luxury hotels, delicious street food, world’s prettiest lake, Gibbons on the Khao Sok National Park, Beach Football, Many Buddhas, The Wampo Viaduct, wonderful beach bars, island hopping, afternoon tea at the treetops, etc are some good reasons to persuade you for memorable holidays and book affordable Thailand packages according to your choice.

Spend Time in Leisure at Some of the Finest Destinations
Definition of tourism is different for tourists in Thailand. For young generation and those who are along on their tour in a group of same age group, Pattaya is the dream destination to fulfill their desire. Here, they will get everything they have wished from nightlife to massage and company of beautiful girls to delicious food, adventure tours, and beach holiday pleasure to a lot more.

Phuket is another wonderful destination where day begins as soon as sun set. Streets go full of tourists and locals; while gorgeous girls attract you towards go-go bars. Bangkok is for all who are dreaming of having fun in entirely different way. The capital city is famous for some amazing hotels and to offer you the best of luxury during your holidays in Thailand.

Explore Secret Holiday Destinations – They will be the Best Leisure Destinations in Thailand
If you ask local after reaching Thailand, you will get the answer that will be surprisingly different. According to the residents of this Asian Kingdom, Hua Hin is the ideal place to escape the capital for a fe quiet days at the beach. This three hour drive from Bangkok is famous for its 5 km of sand defining this destination favorite with vacationing Thais. Here, you will see a palace and holiday estate built by the royal family in the year of 1920.

Don’t miss the chance of exploring Pa-La-U Waterfall – in jungle 60 km from town of Kaeng Krachan National Park that is Thailand’s largest reserve – stretching of the Burmese border. Sam Roi Yot National Park has a landscape of limestone peaks and Khao Takiab at the end of Hua Hin Beach is sprinkled with Buddhist Shrines and worth climbing for the panoramic view.

Find a trusted online travel agency to book the right Thailand tour packages according to your choice to have fun and celebration unlimited as the hidden jewel of Southeast Asia.

The Taste and Tradition of Thai Cuisine

The Taste and Tradition of Thai Cuisine
A tropical country with mountains and long seacoasts, Thailand’s rich history of stability, modern capital and vibrant rural areas contribute to a wide diversity of cuisine.
Thai cuisine is characterized by hot, spicy flavors and has been influenced by China and India, sometimes through the filter of the surrounding countries of Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. As a result, there are interesting regional differences, as well as variety due to geography and social group. As with Chinese and Japanese cuisines, balancing flavors, textures, colors and cooking methods to complement one another is important. The Thai staple is rice, with shorter-grain varieties preferred in the north and longer-grain in the south. There is a wide diversity of cuisine in this tropical country, which boasts mountains and long seacoasts; a long, rich history of stability; a large, modern capital; and vibrant rural areas.
Known for assorted curries, Thai cooking includes a broad range of seasonings: many citrus flavorings, such as turmeric (orange-flavored spice), lemongrass or fresh fruits; coriander; galangal (very pungent type of ginger); dill; mint; anise-scented basil; scallions; chile peppers; garlic; and fish sauce (nuoc mam).
Typical accompaniments are rice, rice noodles, wheat noodles and mung bean noodles (threads), also called cellophane noodles. Garnishes include straw mushrooms, ground peanuts, curries and different kinds of bananas. Thickened cornstarch sauces are not used; rather, dry foods, with the cooking liquid as the accompaniment, are passed with rice. Thai cooking utilizes all cooking techniques.
There are four staples of Thai cuisine, which can be discussed in four distinct categories: rice and noodles; fish and seafood; vegetables and fruit; and meat and poultry.
  • Rice and Noodles
The Thai people have cultivated rice since the earliest days of their history, and, although Thailand contains many jewels, no gem can rival the pearly white rice that is produced in abundance through much of the country. It has even staved off famine throughout Thai history. It is the staff of life, the yardstick by which all well-being is measured. A Thai will not ask, “Have you had lunch?” But, he or she will ask, “Have you eaten rice?”
In May, led by the king’s symbolic example, Thai farmers go to the fields to weed and clean in preparation for plowing. As soon as the first rains fall, usually in May, the rice is sown in smaller nursery fields and carefully tended. The shoots grow quickly in the monsoon season, and young plants are removed from the nursery to be replanted in the fields. Harvesting is in January. The government has now set up an efficient irrigation network, which gives a second harvest in some areas.
Among the many varieties of rice, Thailand boasts a particularly fine, long-grain type, called Jasmine rice, which is often destined for export. Rice is cooked in water without salt, to balance the spiciness of the accompanying dishes. The secret of perfect rice lies in the quantity of water used; the level of water in the pan should be at one knuckle above the rice. All the water should be absorbed during cooking, leaving the rice firm and fluffy.
Shorter-grain, glutinous rice, also known as sticky rice, is a favorite of the hill people and of the Issan group that lives in the northeast. Elsewhere, it is generally used in desserts. The Thai usually cook more rice than is necessary for one meal. The remainder is used in a wide variety of khao phad (fried rice) dishes, mixed with chicken, ham, prawns (shrimp), eggs, etc., and flavored with garlic, onion and basil. The ingredients can be chopped, sliced, ground or crushed, before being mixed with khao phad.
The best utensil for frying rice is a wok (a deep, conical pan), which can easily be obtained in Asian shops. Strong heat is needed, and the rice must be tossed vigorously with the seasoning ingredients. This can lead to splashes and penetrating smells. In Thailand, the kitchen is sensibly located in a small, open-sided wooden outhouse, and the breeze carries away strong smells. In the West, an efficient extractor fan in the kitchen would be a suitable alternative. Khao phad makes a meal on its own, while plain rice is served with a selection of meat, fish and vegetable dishes.
Thailand, like other Asian countries similarly influenced by the Chinese, has many noodle dishes using a wide variety of types of noodles. Mung bean noodles, rice noodles and wheat flour noodles, with or without egg, all find their way into delicious recipes–cooked in various ways and combined with different ingredients.
  • Fish and Seafood
The love the Thai have for fish and seafood is born from nature’s bounty. The coastline along the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand is long; large rivers full of fish traverse the country from north to south; and a maze of canals crisscross the plains. Fishermen can be seen everywhere, as they cast, haul in and lift their nets for cash and subsistence. Farmers view their klongs (irrigation and transport canals) as important sources of protein to augment the rice they grow. Thai fishermen put out to sea all along the coast and through the maze of small islands that dot much of the coast. Shrimp farming is big business in southern Thailand.
In Thailand, people eat far more fish than meat. In fact, the produce of the sea and rivers is second only to rice in importance. An old Thai saying, “There is rice in the fields and fish in the water,” sums up how the Thai measure happiness and illustrates how they appreciate natural good fortune. Inland, freshwater fish is available throughout the country. Sea fish is often preserved by smoking, salting or drying. In the markets, highly aromatic dried fish and cuttlefish are displayed in bamboo boxes or hung from wires. Both fish and seafood are made into delicious curries and wonderful soups. In addition, they are the main ingredients of those two basic Thai condiments, nam pla (fish sauce) and kapi (shrimp paste).
Any discussion of Thai food would be lacking, if fish sauce were not discussed in greater detail. It is a fundamental flavor component found in every Thai kitchen, right next to the sugar. For this reason, nam pla should be on any shopping list for Thai ingredients. Not only is it an essential ingredient in finished dishes, it appears as a condiment on the dining table at nearly every meal, by itself or mixed with chiles or lime juice. A prime source of salt and rich in protein, B vitamins and minerals, this clear, brown liquid is to Thai cooking what soy sauce is to Chinese and Japanese cooking. It is a brew made by fermenting anchovies in sea salt and water.
Nam pla’s odor can be overwhelming. When used in cooking, its fishiness lessens dramatically, as it dissipates and blends in deliciously with aromatic flavor ingredients. If its odor does not diminish satisfactorily, consider switching brands, because some are more mild and likable to the uninitiated. Most Thai prefer a sauce with a mid-range of fishiness, but keep a few varieties on hand for various purposes. An uncooked dipping sauce for the table fares better with a milder blend, whereas rich curries, spicy soups and seafood dishes are enhanced by a stronger sauce.
It is advisable to stick with one brand to ensure consistent results. A recommended brand is Tra Chang (scale brand), identified by a red label depicting a weighing scale with a fish on one end balanced by “100%” on the other. Another very flavorful brand, Golden Boy, pictures a chubby baby holding a bottle of fish sauce, rather than a milk bottle. These two premium brands are not yet widely distributed in the U.S., so look for them in Thai and Southeast Asian markets. More readily available is Tiparos, a brand that has been around in Western markets for a long time. Aside from these three, there is a wide range of other brands. Though some show pictures of shrimp, silver pomfret fish or squid on the label, these are only identifying logos; all nam pla is made from anchovies. Gourmet specialty markets have started to carry fish sauce along with other convenience Thai food items, specially bottled in Thailand with English names and labels, for the affluent Western cook. Usually in much smaller bottles, these brands carry a hefty price tag–about six times the price of those offered in Asian markets. Fish sauce does not need to be refrigerated after opening, but it does evaporate and darken over time, getting stronger.
  • Vegetables and Fruit
Vegetables play an important part in Thai nutrition. The Thai do not all practice the vegetarianism preached by Buddhism, and they eat meat in small quantities, as long as non-Buddhists sacrifice the animals.
Nature produces many vegetables, in a temptingly wide variety of colors and shapes, including tomatoes, cucumbers, shallots, crispy lettuce, pure white cauliflower, green beans, peppers, zucchini and pumpkin. New species are regularly introduced to satisfy the Thai’s enjoyment of variety. They grow in the irrigated market gardens around Bangkok, as well as on the hill slopes of the north. The Thai also consume many tropical and regional vegetables unknown in the West. These include aquatic plants, such as phak bung (water cabbage); creeping plants, like tam lung; and rhizomes, such as white turmeric, bamboo shoots and lotus stems.
Fruit is often used in salads. Particular favorites are papaya and grapefruit, and a great number of salad and vegetable dishes include fish, seafood or meat. Salads are refreshing in the hot, humid climate of Thailand and appear at most meal-times in one form or another, from a simple dish of raw beans or assorted vegetables with a spicy dip, to a complicated restaurant showpiece.
Vegetables are not served at any particular moment during the meal. They come with all the other dishes, and people nibble at them while eating curries or other hot courses. Sometimes, they can be meals in themselves. Oil and vinegar are rarely used to prepare dressings for salads. The most common dressing recipes include lemon juice, chiles, fish sauce and shallots. Papaya salad is served with a dressing of pounded peanuts, fish sauce, garlic and chopped chiles with dried prawns. Another popular salad dressing is made with hard-boiled egg yolks, mashed in tepid water with sugar and lemon juice. As with other sauces, the Thai create a wide range of salad dressings from different combinations of all the available ingredients.
  • Meat and Poultry
For the most part, Thai dishes contain fairly small quantities of meat. Killing animals does not lie easily on Buddhists’ consciences, and the sight of a Thai butcher is rare. This job is left to the Chinese, who specialize in pork, and to the Muslims, who deal with beef, mutton and chicken. These days, poultry is often sold in pieces. Meat is set out on stalls in the open air. Most Thai people distrust frozen meat, which is not widely available anyway, and will often go to market twice a day.
Chicken is the most popular sort of poultry, as it is relatively cheap. Its bland flavor goes well with a variety of spices and sauces, and it is useful in making a stock base for soups. Rich and poor alike eat chicken. Thailand has a modern poultry industry alongside family farm production; country roads are full of scratching chickens. Chicken can be skewered and grilled over charcoal, or sautéed with spices and vegetables. Duck breeding is an increasingly common sight along rivers and canals. The Chinese are particularly keen on this bird, and Peking duck is a gastronomic delicacy. The whole bird is eaten, from the delicately roasted skin cut into strips, to the stock made from the carcass.
The choice of meat varies according to religious beliefs and habits. Muslims refuse to touch pork, which the Chinese like so much; Indians cannot bear the idea of eating beef; and the Thai generally hate the smell of mutton. Buffalo is popular in country areas and can be tenderized by suitable cooking. Veal is rarely found in Thailand. Meat is usually well-done and, except when dried, is accompanied by vegetables and spices. Certain restaurants specialize in game, such as venison and wild boar. In memory of harder times, it is not unusual to find protein in the form of insects, rodents and reptiles, particularly in restaurants specializing in northern Thai cuisine.
SIDEBAR
In the mountainous north, where borders are shared with Burma and Laos, the cuisine is as distinctive as the handicrafts for which the region is noted. Here, the earliest people of Thailand settled on their migration southward from China, forming first a group of small city-states, and then a loose federation known as Lanna, with Chiang Mai as the principal city. The impact of Burma is apparent in dishes that use aromatic spices, like cinnamon and cardamom, also found in northern Indian dishes. These include the popular khao soi, a curry broth with egg noodles and chicken, pork or beef, as well as gaeng hang lay, a pork curry seasoned with ginger, tamarind and turmeric. Of Laotian origin are nam prik noom, a complex dipping sauce with a strong chile-lime flavor, and ook gai, a red chicken curry with lemongrass. The northeast region is characterized by highly seasoned dishes making use of unusual wild plant and animal foods, which reflect the historical poverty and uncertain harvest of the region.
Nicholas Gervaise, a Jesuit missionary, noted that kapi, the popular, fermented shrimp paste, has such a pungent smell, it nauseates anyone not accustomed to it. He also wrote perhaps the first general recipe for a typical Thai condiment based on kapi: salt, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, white onions, nutmeg and several strongly flavored herbs mixed in considerable quantities of shrimp paste.
The presence of cloves and nutmeg is evidence of trade with the East Indies. Other influences may come from Chinese, Japanese, Malays and Indians who once lived in the old Thai capital of Ayutthaya. None of the early writers mention chiles, but they were probably already in use–either brought directly by the Portuguese, who opened relations in 1511, or having come via Malacca or India. The indigenous black pepper is called Thai pepper, while later arrivals, capsicum chile peppers, have more colloquial local names. The Portuguese also introduced a number of popular Thai sweets based on sugar and egg yolks, and possibly corn and the tomato, which are also of New World origin.
A more refined type of cuisine prevailed in royal and aristocratic houses. Sometimes referred to as “palace cooking,” these elaborate dishes called for great skill at blending numerous deluxe ingredients to achieve the most subtle nuances of taste. The dishes were then presented with carved fruits and vegetables in a wide variety of decorative forms. The women’s quarters of the Grand Palace were the center of such skills, and many daughters of aristocratic families were sent there to prepare them for future life. The current Queen of Thailand has been instrumental in reviving many of these traditional culinary and craft art forms, so they may be enjoyed by future generations.