Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Thai Oliang Coffee Drink

Oliang Coffee Mix (454 g) by Pantai
The unique Thai coffee drink known as "oliang" is a blend of coffee, sesame and corn served over ice. Oliang preparation is a unique process and you can see particular Thai coffee street vendors in Thailand doing it so fast you'd think they can do it with eyes shut.

Thai Coffee Preparation:What You Need (in addition to the coffee).
1. One stainless muslin filter
2. Two small saucepans or extra-wide cups with handles
3. One container full of boiling water

Step 1. Place 2 tablespoons of coffee in stainless muslin filter (filter is seen below in his left hand). Position the filter over saucepan or wide cup and pour about 10 oz boiling water through filter. Then lift the filter, let drain and quickly move filter so it's over another saucepan or wide cup.

Step 2. Pour the liquid coffee back through filter and into saucepan. Then lift the filter, let drain and quickly move filter so it's over the other saucepan or wide cup (basically repeating step 1). Pour through the filter one more time.

Step 3. Place 2-3 tablespoons white granulated sugar into a glass.

Step 4. Pour coffee into glass with sugar.

Step 5. Stir well.

Step 6. Pour coffee into a large mug filled with crushed ice.

Step 7. Serve with a straw, enjoy!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Fresh Authentic Japanese Ingredients make Thai Cuisine Tasty for Dinner Parties

One of the secrets to Asian cooking outside of Asia is that the freshest, most authentic Japanese ingredients are used to make the best meals possible. Thai foods are known worldwide for their diversity of ingredients, complex flavor, delicate and intricate spiciness and fabulous fragrance. Many Thai and Japanese restaurants get business off the street on their food’s aroma alone.

In cities such as New York, London and Frankfurt Asian food is incredibly popular and growing in demand. Weekend workshops in all major cities in the western world are available to those who want to learn to make the most popular Asian foods. What most of these workshops lack is high quality, authentic ingredients!

Thai and Japanese foods, while distinctly different, do share many of the same fresh herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables that simply aren’t grown in the western world. To find ingredients isn’t easy. The international foods aisles in most supermarkets do have basics, but can’t possibly stock all the specialty items found in a Japanese shop or Japanese supermarket. After all, it isn’t economically feasible for major supermarket chains to supply many of the ingredients so few cooks know how to use but are essential to true Thai cuisine. To please your guests use the best.

The Thai ingredients most difficult to find in supermarket aisles are Betal nut and leaf, Acacia leaf, Galangal; Kaffir lime leaves, Chinese chives, and Thai grown basil, turmeric, garlic, lemongrass and more. To make foods like Pad Thai, an incredibly flavorful and popular dish, dried shrimp, rice sticks, authentic herbs and spices and sauces are necessary. Substituting real Japanese ingredients will leave the chef with subpar results.

To impress dinner guests with your abilities and knowledge of international cuisine, use some Japanese ingredients found in a Japanese supermarket, local Japanese shop or order Japanese food online. The best ingredients can be found easily, along with recipes for dishes like Pad Thai, fried rice, green curry and more by shopping online.

Setting up a nice Japanese or Thai dinner party takes some effort. After creating a relaxing ambience with candles, soft Japanese music and a few simple touches of Asian d├ęcor, impress guests with your skills in the kitchen. Better yet, get them involved in the cooking process by teaching them about authentic Asian cuisine. Use sushi mats and your own homemade ingredients to help guests make their own sushi rolls. Be sure to set out dishes of fish sauce and other genuine Asian sauces and condiments. Guests are sure to be have a memorable evening where their newly learned skills can be used for years to come.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Southeast Asia’s Contribution to the Humble Curry!

Thai Green Curry
What do we know about curry? Ask any foreigner of Western origin this question and the standard answer will be along the lines of: “It’s from India and it’s really spicy.” While the cuisine of Southeast Asia does lend a degree of inspiration from India, their adaptation of this globally popular dish is breath-taking and utterly mouth-watering. With coconut palms adorning just about every beach front and garden from north to south, the creamy juice of coconuts have become a great part of curry preparation here. When arriving for the first time in Thailand, the incredible selection of delicious curries can very much be the portal through which the unaccustomed palate can travel to the enjoyment of the rest of Thai cuisine! So, what exactly does this mean?

To be fair, while the menu of Southeast Asia is perhaps the most interesting, complex, fresh and colorful cuisine in the world, many people from abroad struggle with the unique and often pungent flavors typical of this food. The widespread use of fermented fish sauce in many of the Thai dishes is one thing; the side-effects of consuming copious amounts of chili is another! Yet, the range of curries – usually made from coconut milk or cream, fresh vegetables and a meat (generally chicken, seafood or pork) - are so universally delicious that foreigners are at least given a few days to acclimatize to the rest of the cuisine before starving or worse; falling back on McDonalds!

Thai Massaman Curry
The most popular curries in Thailand – popular to foreigners that is – are green, red and yellow curry. The first, Thai green curry is a classic and extremely popular addition to the menus in both local Thai restaurants and those abroad. Then of course there’s Penang curry, Massaman curry, Thai shrimp coconut curry, Jungle curry (northern), Northern Pork curry, Thai fish curry… and the list goes on and on! As a result of the complex spicy flavors, creamy coconut backdrop, wholesome crunch of fresh vegetables and savory finish of your choice in meat, the contribution of Southeast Asia to the humble curry deserves an Oscar for culinary performance.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Southeast Asian Cuisine: Rice Obsession or Passion?

If you’ve been to Asia, you will know that the Eastern culture and cuisine is rice-crazy. There is no meal in the day that is not in some way complimented with a rice serving, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. This can make those untraveled of us wonder at just how interesting Asian cuisine can possibly be. Preliminary Internet-based searches of the kind of culinary experience we can expect from an adventure into the East don’t even touch on the sheer variety of rice types and preparation methods used in this beautiful destination. And so, this blog endeavors to take a brief journey in the white haze of the Eastern rice craze.

First and foremost, each and every continent has its staple food. North America has corn, Russia has potatoes, South Africa has wheat and Asia has rice. Of course, with the sophistication and expansion of global trade, these definitions are becoming somewhat less distinct in the rest of the world, but in Asia and Thailand? Rice is most undeniably the staple food crop. You can see it everywhere, from the marketplaces where great hessian bags of rice are sold, to the breath-taking vistas of emerald rice paddies laid out like a patchwork quilt of greenery.

So, why rice? Quite simply, the lush and tropical climate and waterlogged fecund soils of Southeast Asia are highly conducive to the growth of this food crop. Generations of knowledge, teaching and experimenting has resulted in the vast array of rice cooking techniques that can be enjoyed today! In the West, a bowl of rice is about as imaginative as a hard-boiled egg, but in the East… a bowl of rice can be steamed, sticky, gelatinous, brown, white, jasmine, vermicelli or pudding. Furthermore, rice is used in the creating of an incredibly host of products, including vinegar, soups, wine, liquor, pasta, bread, milk and just about everything else that can be rendered from flour!

So, make a point of exploring the many wonderful types of rice dishes and preparations and remember this: if the cuisine of Thailand can be likened to an art, then rice is undoubtedly the canvas!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Thai Drinks

So you are familiar with typical Thai food such as noodles, green curry and rice dishes, but what about drinks? Non alcoholic Thai drinks within Thailand are refreshing and often sweet. The following provides some examples of what the locals typically drink throughout the day, with meals and in the evening to relax.

Iced Tea, in Thai the name is 'Cha Yen'. The tea is made with red or black tea leaves. The leaves are boiled and then the mixture is sieved, leaving the leaves behind. To balance the flavours making it more refreshing to drink, additional ingredients are added such as tamarind, orange flavoured blossom water, star anise and sugar. Some Thais also like to add a food colorant to the tea to make it yellow or red. Ice is then added and sometimes part blended in.

Lime Ice Tea. This is similar to the basic ice tea, however, fresh lime and often mint is also added.

Iced coffee can be found everywhere from local street vendors to upmarket coffee shops. The coffee is usually very strong and is mixed with cow's milk, or more typically soy milk. Again, the drink is served with lashings of ice; however, it is now becoming common for the drink to have an extra western twist such as iced cappuccino.

The three alcoholic drinks that are most readily available in bars throughout Thailand are the following: Sang Som is a Thai spirit which tastes like a mild whiskey. It is ruby in colour and is usually drunk with cola or lemonade. Thais however, will usually drink it with ice and no mixer.
Chang Beer can be found in literally all bars and has an alcohol content of 5%.
Singha Beer is a popular beer with an alcohol content of 6% and is pale in colour.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Durian - The 'King of Fruits'

When strolling through Thai markets or supermarkets passing the fruit section, you may notice an unfamiliar somewhat pungent smell. This is the unusual aroma of Durian.

In its uncut form, it can be recognized by its brownish green thorn like tough skin. Once opened, the flesh is typically a pale yellow or cream colour, but some species of the 'King Fruits', as it is locally nicknamed, can be red or bright yellow.

Taste and Texture:
The fruit is often referred to as tasting like a creamy almond custard. Upon eating the fruit, you will notice that it is soft, smooth and has no juice. Many also like to eat it due to its nutritional value as it is high in protein and carbohydrates.

Durian fruit can be eaten raw just like any other fruit. It is common in Thailand for it to be mixed with pumpkin and transformed into a paste. The paste is a dark brunt orange colour and is sold in tubes. It is then used as fillings for foods such as moon cakes, cakes and biscuits. Western foods such as milkshakes and ice creams have been given a Thai twist with durian flavouring being added to them turning the fruit into drinks and desserts.

It is not uncommon for high class supermarkets, restaurants and even hotels to have signs present that state 'No Durian'. This is purely due to its smell, as many westerners in particular do not like the fruit and find it off putting. People within Thailand and throughout other Asian countries such as Malaysia and China, also believe that to eat the fruit with alcohol is bad for you. An Asian Myth states it causes bad breath, which in turn reduces the body's ability by 70% to release harmful toxins.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Papaya Pok Pok

Som Tam

As craters are to the moon, so the delightful dish Som Tam is ubiquitous to northern Thai cuisine. Just about every street vendor, open air market and restaurant serves Som Tam and if they don’t, they can direct you to the nearest place that does, which is generally less than five minutes walk away, regardless of where in northern Thailand you are! Otherwise known to foreigners as ‘Papaya pok pok’ owing to the sound its preparation with a pestle and mortar makes, Som Tam is a delicious crunchy salad made from green beans, tomato, dried shrimp, garlic, fresh lime juice, Thai bird chilies, carrots, roasted peanuts and green (unripe) and julienne-style papaya fruit (paw paw). Owing to its incredibly popularity amongst the locals and foreigners alike, there are fresh food vendors dealing in Som Tam to be found in every single market-place, be it open-air or indoors; during the day or nighttime.

Half the fun of enjoying Som Tam is watching its preparation! It’s appropriate nickname ‘Papaya Pok Pok’ is derived from the sound the cook makes while thumping away with his / her pestle and mortar at the whole garlic cloves, chilies, palm sugar, tamarind juice and various other spices that are used to great the flavor and aromatic base of the dish. The use of fermented fish sauce to taste is a deeply-entrenched habit in Thai-style cooking and Som Tam doesn’t escape this addition, so foreigners might have to wrap their taste buds around its pungent aroma. Yet, behind the stigma of a sauce created from fermenting fish, there is an incredible palate of fresh, zingy and spicy flavors and crunchy textures to be greatly relished. Many Thais love their Som Tam with “bpuu” (phonetic pronunciation), or fresh raw river crabs. Many vendors prepare Som Tam this way, so if you don’t make any specifications you might find yourself getting raw crab in your plate!

So, if you are planning a trip to Thailand, make sure you try this incredible testament to the colour and complexity of Thai cuisine and if you are wary of eating raw river crab, just say “Mai sai Bpuu!”… don’t put crab!

Monday, 2 August 2010

A Taste of Thai

Welcome to all those wishing they were somewhere else! - Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for people in the UK and nearly everyone who has visited the land of smiles has been left with a very special connection with the Thai people and their culture. Returning from such a wonderful, amazing place can leave you feeling a little empty and disillusioned.

But there is a quick fix. With the UK Thai festival season in full swing there are lots of opportunities to experience, once again, the wonderful foods, music and cultures of Thailand. With over 30,000 Thai Nationals living in the UK it is hardly surprising that there is a healthy Thai Events calendar and their popularity is growing year on year. To experience the Thai culture in the UK you simply need to know where to go and when.

Taste of Thai is a website in the UK which has details of all of the Thai events in the UK as well as contact details for Thai consulates and some useful links to Thai resources. You can visit the site at www.tasteofthai.co.uk.

Initially set up to showcase some useful Thai resources, Taste of Thai, has over the last few years become one of the most visited UK sites for people wishing to find out about Thai festivals and events. The summer months are packed with events and what could be better than being six thousand miles from home at a Thai festival sharing a Pad Thai or a Tom Yam Kung in the summer sun in the UK? Being in Thailand - Yes we agree - being home.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Soy Beans - Many Forms Used in Thai Cooking

Walking through a supermarket in Thailand you will notice there will literally be a full aisle with soy products. They range from dried beans and even milk. They all use the same product but they are prepared and used in different ways.

Soy beans have been used in Asia for thousands of years and are actually an oil seed, not a pulse, which they are commonly mistaken for. The beans were once considered to be important in Asian countries such as China, Thailand and Korea as they were called sacred by farmers, who up until 1920 did not use the bean for food but rather for industrial purposes when growing other crops.

One form in which soy beans are used and commonly sold throughout Thailand is oil. Soy oil can be found everywhere in the country in large and small supermarkets. The soy beans naturally contain 19% oil, which is extracted by first cracking them and rolling them flat so they take to a flake like form. After being blended and refined, the oil is ready. Leftover flakes are then given to animals to eat, or sold to those with farm animals.

Another large section of the supermarket will be predominantly for dairy substitutes, which are also made with soy beans. Milk and drinks are the most common one will find, and they are often sold in small bottles with extra calcium supplements added. Yogurts can also be found.

Possibly the most common use for the soy bean in Thailand is soy sauce. The sauce usually comes in a dark variety or light. The light sauce is mainly used to flavour rice and noodles, whereas the darker sauce, which is thicker, is mainly used more sparsely in soups or sauces. Both are salty in taste, explaining why conventional salt is not used as much.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Sam Fox uses Thai Food Online ingredients

Come dine with me – Celebrity Special
Sam Fox
After ordering her ingredients from Thai Food Online, Sam Fox serves up a tasty meal and proves that she is more than a pair of crackers!
"I did change the face of page three and show that we have brains and personalities and we can do other stuff," says the glamorous glamour model, whose vocal talents have racked up 30 million albums worldwide.
After a volatile week Sam is on a mission to unite the group, but it won't be easy with cougar Janice on the prowl.
"Janice was really, really rude," says Jeff.
"I wasn't," complains Janice, "I was being social."
After decades in the biz, Sam knows no celebrity party is complete without… ping pong.
"The table tennis was clearly what we lacked this week, it was like we were one big happy family," grins a happy Jeff.
The loving vibe continues over dinner and Sam seems to have nailed the evening from her complimentary name tags (Foxy Sam, Calum the Best) to her awesome food.
"I'm having an orgasm!" sighs Janice, chowing on Sam's curry.

Sam Fox’s menu:
Chicken Satay
Thai Beef Massaman Curry
Vietnamese Fruit Salad

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Som Tam – The Spicy Salad

Spicy and salad are generally two words which are not found in the same sentence. In Thai cooking, the nation’s spicy salad is called som tam, or sometimes som tum. It is derived from Laos to the north of Thailand from a dish called tam mak hoong or the Cambodian version is known as bok l’hong. The salad is made from the unripe core of a papaya using a special tool which takes three strips of the fruit at a time. The end result is spaghetti like noodles of papaya.

Thai cuisine typically has four main tastes that are present in nearly all dishes. The heat comes from the chilli, the salty fish sauce, the juice of a lime and to counteract the flavours, palm sugar is also added. What is often served up as a side dish or as an accompaniment to noodles and vegetables, som tam gives a refreshing taste with the zing of some hot chillies.

Added peanuts, crab (padaek) or dried shrimp are nearly always found in som tam, but in Isaan the crabs are usually raw, meaning the government tries to recommend not having them as there could be an hepatitis risk. As ever with most dishes, there are variations. Some restaurants and markets offer a papaya replacement with mangoes, carrots and cucumbers. Again, the major Thai tastes are present but with a different, but equally fresh un-ripened fruit.

Som tam is a versatile dish that can be found with rice, noodles or vegetables. It is also treated as a snack usually with some salty pork rinds. The dish can stand on its own as being a genuine dish, but with the freshness and spiciness, sometimes just having a small side order is enough to taste the flavours. Hot, fresh and interesting is the best description!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Typical Thai Deserts

Traditional international desserts such as ice cream and cakes are sold and served throughout Thailand. Many however, have been given an Asian twist such as ice creams with durian, lime and coconut flavourings and cakes including sponge rolls or buns with pandanus and custard fillings.

There are also those that are less known to the West such as Tako, which is made from coconut and has a jelly like texture. The puddings are set in small moulds, which are made from pandanus leaves that fragrance the puddings naturally and make them attractive in their appearance.

One Thai dessert that can be found on most Thai menus is sticky rice with mango, which is named 'Khao niao mamuang' in Thai. The rice is cooked and mixed with coconut milk and often sweetened further with palm sugar or granulated sugar. Fresh slices are then added to the rice or placed to the side.

Grass jelly, known as 'Chao Kuai' is an interesting looking desert due to it being black in colour. The black jelly is made with mesona chinesis leaves, which are slightly similar to mint leaves. The leaves are oxidized slightly and then boiled with potassium carbonate. Once set, it is ready to serve. Most locals will usually buy the grass jelly already made. It is then served with brown sugar and/or shavings of ice. The taste of the jelly is said to be slightly similar to lavender and a little bitter, hence sugar is added to balance the flavours.

At night, it is normal to see pancake stalls everywhere around large cities. Bananas, sugar and chocolate spread are usually added to sweeten further. This dessert is one that many visitors and tourists will be familiar with; it is also eaten as a snack by the locals and tourists.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Recommended in BBC Olive magazine

Thai Food Online has been recommended as the place to shop like a ‘Pro Vietnamese’ for fresh Asian ingredients in the popular BBC food magazine, Olive (July 2010 issue).

We are pleased to be recommended as an online resource for authentic Asian ingredients yet again. This follows us being recommended by Rick Stein in his new book, Far Eastern Odyssey.

Thai Food Online is the only online store where you can purchase such a wide range of fresh authentic Thai herbs, spices, vegetables and fruit.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Thai Food Online Receives a 2009 Constant Contact All-Star Award

Constant Contact recognizes Thai Food Online for commitment to best practices in email marketing

24 May 2010 - Thai Food Online, today announced that it has received a 2009 All-Star Award from Constant Contact®, Inc., a leading provider of email marketing, event marketing, and online survey tools for small organizations. Thai Food Online was selected for meeting Constant Contact’s best-practice standards for the use of Email Marketing throughout 2009-2010.

Thai Food Online received a 2009 Constant Contact All-Star Award for demonstrating best practices in the effective use of Constant Contact Email Marketing in the following areas:

  • Frequency of campaigns
  • Open rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Click through rates

“Our customers work hard to build strong relationships with their customers through email marketing and some, such as Thai Food Online , truly excel in this effort,” said Gail Goodman, CEO, Constant Contact. “We created our All-Star Awards to highlight those customers who are passionately committed to following our best practices as they work to improve their customer communications. We’re proud of the role we play in helping Thai Food Online be successful and we look forward to continuing to assist the company with its marketing efforts.”

Monday, 17 May 2010

What's for Breakfast – Thai Style

Whereas back at home you would tend to grab a slice of toast, a cup of coffee or maybe some fruit, in Thailand breakfast meals are very similar to those of the rest of the day. Taking a morning stroll throughout Thailand will reveal small family run restaurants and market stalls opening and dishing out bowls of rice and noodle dishes.

One of the most common meals eaten in the morning is Khao Tom. Khao Tom is a Thai soup that is made from rice. It is always savoury and often flavoured with vegetables and meats such as pork and sometimes shrimp. Noodle soup is also eaten for breakfast and for other meals throughout the day. The soup is very simple and is usually made with chicken stock, dry noodles, vegetables such as spring onion and contains meat such as pork and chicken. Soups are then flavoured with soy sauce and herbs such as coriander. They do vary slightly depending on the vendor.

Another item that is usually eaten for breakfast is Chok, which is a Thai style porridge. Whereas in the west porridge is made from oats, in Thailand this version made with rice and served as a savoury dish.

Simple dishes are also often served. For instance, it is common to see fried rice being eaten, which is flavoured simply with vegetables and chicken. Fried chicken or plain egg omelettes with a side dish of steamed rice and chilli sauce are also popular.

In regards to what is served as drinks to accompany meals, water is the most popular with locals also opting to drink straight from fresh coconuts by slicing open the top and inserting a straw. Homemade ice tea, which is often sweet, and coffee are also becoming increasingly popular beverages.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

New Recipe Added - Thai Prawn Cakes

Aromatic Prawn Cakes

Uma Wylde

Taken from umawylde.com

Thai Recipe
Uma Wylde's Aromatic Prawn Cakes (Thod Man Kung)

Ingredients for Thai prawn cakes (for four people):

Preparation & Cooking Time: 20 minutes


  1. Tip 2 tbsp rice into a frying pan and cook over a medium heat until golden then take off the heat and grind to a powder in a pestal and mortar.

  2. Deseed the chillies and tip into a food processor with the garlic, spring onion and kaffir lime leaves and blitz until fine. Now add the raw prawns, the ground rice and 2 tsp salt and blitz until smooth.

  3. Turn the prawn mixture onto a board sprinkled with cornflour and roll into a long sausage. Cut the roll into 1cm slices then shape into patties and dust with a little cornflour.

  4. Pour enough oil into a frying pan or wok so it’s deep enough to cover the prawn cakes and place over a high heat. Once the oil is sizzling hot then add the prawn cakes and fry for 1 minute or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on to absorbent kitchen paper.

  5. Serve with dipping sauce such as a cucumber, chilli or peanut.

Eat Insects Instead of Cows?

Thailand is famous for its food. The unique blend of flavours, which abuse the palette, keeps tourists coming back for more. In addition to the spicy curries and flavoursome dishes, there is an obscure, some Westerners say at least, side dish or snack that is sold at Thai local markets. Many areas around Thailand sell insects, which have been deep fried.

Typically, it is grasshoppers, crickets, silkworms and bee larvae which are found. At the local markets, there are metal dishes with thousands of insects piled high. They smell fantastic, look weird and yet can be fairly nutritious. It is generally said that the taste is akin to popcorn or prawns. The Thais deep fry them with kaffir lime leaves, garlic and chilli, which transforms the snack into a tasty dish.

Normally, insects are fairly bland, that is why the locals cook them with other ingredients, but also they use them as a crunchy addition to soups, especially in Isaan, which is in the north east of Thailand. A typical insect is the maengda or maelong da na, which is a giant water beetle that has a taste similar to Gorgonzola cheese but is a great addition to any naam prik chilli dip. Ant eggs and silk worms are usually boiled with soups and curries.

Not only are insects a great source of protein, they are packed with immune system boosting vitamins and minerals. Termites are rich in iron, whilst crickets are an excellent source of calcium, perfect for those who are allergic to dairy products. The most nutritious of insects is the silk worm larvae, which has 100% of the daily requirements of zinc, iron, thiamin, riboflavin and copper. With these facts, who can argue that carnivorous humans should switch from eating cattle to insects as part of their diet?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Thai Rice Varieties

Rice is an ingredient that can be found on every menu within Thailand. However, what many do not realize is there are different varieties that are cooked in different ways.

One of the most popular types of rice throughout the country is fragrant jasmine rice. The grains are white in colour and long in shape. Another popular rice that is readily available is sticky rice, which is also named glutinous rice as it is gluten free. This rice is white in colour also and the grains are short in length. The rice has a sweeter taste and is often used in desserts such as mango sticky rice as well as in savoury dishes.

Throughout Thailand, rice is accompanied with most dishes and is also eaten in several different ways.

For instance, with a curry dish, steamed jasmine rice is typically served. However, with dishes such as fried chicken or pork, sticky rice is preferred.

Here is a quick guide to the different ways that rice is cooked:

1. Fried Rice - this is typically made with white rice, it is cooked in a rice cooker, similar to a pressure cooker, then placed in a frying pan where eggs, vegetables such as spring onion, meat or fish are added. It is then served with a slice of lime and a dash of light soy sauce. The dish is usually eaten as a main course.
2. Steamed Rice - this is simple, tasty and the healthiest option. The rice, whether it is brown, jasmine or plain white, is simply cooked in a rice cooker and used to accompany dishes.
3. Sticky Rice - can be found in supermarkets pre-cooked and on street stalls already cooked and wrapped in green pandan leaves. The rice is also used to cook sweet dishes such as mango sticky rice, where coconut milk, sweet fresh mango and granulated or palm sugar are added. This is a popular desert amongst Thais.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Ramsay's Best Restaurant

‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’ is an exciting new series dedicated to celebrating the finest restaurants in the UK. Restaurants nominated by the public will be tested to the highest level by Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsay and the series will culminate in one culinary hero being crowned ‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’.

Gordon’s journey will see him travel the length and the breadth of Britain in search of brilliant restaurants that deliver gastronomic perfection and wonderful customer service. He’ll meet restaurant owners who refuse to be daunted by the threat from ubiquitous chains and who are determined to survive the recession on their own terms and with their exceptionally high standards intact. He’ll seek out culinary heroes working in the kitchens and front of house at independent restaurants across the UK whose brilliance deserves to be recognised.

Each of the eight heats will focus on a different type of cuisine including Italian, French, Indian and British categories and this year there’s a new category – Fine Dining. Will one of the big boys of the restaurant world come out on top? Or will a small local restaurant take down the Goliaths of the kitchen? The chef’s culinary abilities will be tested as Gordon sets the kitchen brigades some of the toughest challenges they’ve faced in their careers. The pressure will truly be on as the competitors could face anything in their heat, in the super tough semi-finals and in the head-to-head cook-off that is the series final. Only one brilliant contender can win the title of 'Ramsay’s Best Restaurant.' Who will it be?

The series will follow the highs and lows of the passionate chefs, restaurateurs and of Gordon himself as he tries to find his worthy champion.

Restaurants can only take part in the competition if they’ve been nominated. We’re looking for restaurants of the highest calibre so if you know a fantastic restaurant that is worthy of the title then please visit www.bestnominate.com and nominate them now.

Friday, 19 March 2010

The Essential Flavours of Thai Cuisine

The essential ingredients which set Thai cuisine apart from the rest of the world are the five flavours blended together in each meal. All Thai dishes follow similar rules of having hot (spicy), sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours. Walk past stalls or markets with curries being made and you smell the distinct ingredients. The aromatic, chilli and rich smells are all blended together to make Thai food incredibly more-ish.

In addition to these flavours, Thais have a range of condiments to accompany the already quite spicy dishes. Nam chim or a selection of sauces are served in small containers, which have dried chilli flakes, sweet chilli sauce, nam pla phrik (fish sauce, chopped chilli, lime juice and garlic), sliced chilli in rice vinegar and sugar. Cucumber is found on the sides of a dish, to cool and cleanse the mouth, after eating fairly vicious sounding ingredients.

Anyone who has travelled to Thailand or eaten Thai food will understand the flavours being immense. The spiciness is almost unbearable but after having time to cool down, the addictive nature of chillies makes you want it all over again.

It is not only rice and curry dishes which are sold in Thailand. Noodles, many different type of fish dishes, spicy salads (papaya salad), sticky rice and fried chicken or fish balls are available. Having the right blend of ingredients is highly important and one which the budding DIY chef may get wrong. Replicating a Thai dish is an art and it’s usually easier and cheaper to go and buy it.

To find the correct blend of Thai ingredients, all of which encompass the five flavours, is difficult. Tourists who have been to Thailand will never experience the right taste again, unless they go back there for the addictive nature of the cuisine.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Achieving that Authentic Thai Taste

Many people find that they have a problem achieving as truly authentic Thai taste when they first try their hand at cooking Thai food. Western cooks are far more conservative that their Thai counterparts, and thus we tend to under flavour our foods, which is simply not the way to achieve proper tasting Thai food.

Don’t be shy with the spices

If you watch a Thai person cooking, they take a fairly cavalier attitude with herbs and spices. They never measure anything exactly, instead they add these ingredients to their own taste, using their experience of cooking the dish in question. In the west we are used to measuring herbs and spices in small measures, as we tend to add these things to bring subtle flavours to the dish, this is not so in Thailand, where the herbs and spices form the backbone of the flavour. So don’t be conservative with them, always add plenty.

Chillies do have a taste

Most people presume that chillies are added to a dish to simply make it spicy. This is simply not true, chillies in quantity has a distinct flavour of its own, and one which the Thais seem to cherish. So how do we add plenty of chillies to a dish without making it too spicy? Simple, we add other ingredients to counteract the spiciness of the chillies. Sugar is the usual ingredient used for this, and many Thai recipes add several heaped spoons of sugar simply to counteract the fiery chillies. Salt and vinegar are also used in the same way, although in nowhere near as large a dose as sugar.

So there we have it, to achieve a great tasting Thai dish do not stint on the herbs and spices. Forget your traditional Western way of cooking, adding just a little spice to a dish to add some flavour, instead throw away your measuring tubs and start adding herbs and spices by the handful.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Using Garlic the Thai Way

Garlic is used as a cooking ingredient all over the world. However, in the Western World we tend to use garlic sparingly, and when we do use it we tend to prepare it quite differently than Thai people do in Thailand.

In the west we tend to peel the outer skin from the cloves of garlic, we also chop it finely or squeeze it through a garlic press. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this way of preparing garlic, it must be said that this destroys the flavour somewhat. Thai people would never consider treating their garlic so badly!

Smash it Whole:
The primary way in which garlic is used in Thai recipes, is as part of the base paste used to flavour the food. The garlic, along with other herbs and spices such as chillies, onion and black pepper will be thrown into a mortar and then ground down to a paste using a pestle. Note, the garlic is thrown in whole, including the skin, with no other preparation.

Skin it and Eat it Whole:
Another way in which garlic is used in Thai recipes, especially spicy salads (Yam), is to simply peel the cloves and add them to the dish whole. Thai people have no problems with eating whole cloves of garlic in one mouthful, even when it is raw.

As a Covering:
Several Thai dishes, such as Plachon Loue Sawai (a type of deep fried fish with a spicy, sour covering) uses chucks of garlic as part of the coating over the food. Usually it will be coarsely chopped (including the skin) and mixed with chopped onion, chopped chillies, and finely chopped lemongrass. This creates a spicy yet sour mixture, which is sprinkled over the dish before cooking.

As we can see, Thai cooking uses garlic in more innovative ways than we use it in the west, where we simply add a small quantity of chopped garlic to a dish to give it a little flavour. In Thailand, many dishes feature the full flavour of the garlic, which seems to offset the spicy taste of chillies perfectly.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Popular Thai Herbs

The overall character of Thai food, just the same as any regional food, is governed by the most common herbs and spices used in its preparation. What makes Thai food so tasty is the fact the there are such a wide range of inexpensive, and easily obtained herbs and spices to be found in Thailand. Below we will take a look at the three most commonly used of them, which definitely help to form that great Thai taste.

Lemongrass – A very hard grass stalk, with a strong taste of lemon. Thai people add Lemongrass to a dish either smashed down to a paste form in a mortar and pestle, finely chopped, or on 3-6 centimeter lengths. Note that the third form is not eaten, it is simply there to add flavor, leave it in the dish when eating.

Basil – An immensely popular herb across the whole of Thailand. Thai basil is a little different than the basil we find in the western world. The leaves are much larger, and the plants are busier. Also, the taste is not quite so strong. Thai folks will use handfuls of basil when cooking, whereas we would only use a few leaves in the West.

Kaffir Lime Leaves – A whole range of soups, curries, friend dishes and sauces, all feature Kaffir Lime Leaves. Leaves are tossed into the dish, and are used to add flavor. The leaves are never eaten, and are simply left in the serving dish.

So there we have it, 3 of Thailand’s most popular herbs, every chef keen to try their hand at Thai food will need to keep these stocked.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Coping with Chillies

Let’s face it, in the Western World, our idea of spicy is a pizza with a few jalapenos on top. Many people visiting Thailand, or trying authentic Thai food for the first time, often encounter the burning mouth, running nose and numb lips, that only a really spicy dish can cause. So how do we go about enjoying Thai food without this risk?

The simplest way, yet not the best way, is simply to ask for dishes to be prepared without too much chilli. Asking for a dish to be made “Mai Phet” or not hot, is the way to achieve this. However, if you do this, you are missing the true Thai taste, and eating a dish which is a shadow of its proper flavour.

Now I will teach you a little secret I have discovered over the past 5 years living in Thailand. The Thai people cheat when it comes to spicy food. They know for a fact that certain things like sugar will kill the burning chilli sensation dead, whilst leaving the taste intact. Watch a Thai person putting condiments into noodle soup, in goes a spoonful of sugar for every spoonful of dried chilli. In a similar fashion, several types of vegetable leaves can have the same effect such as peppermint.

Hands down the best way to cope with spicy food is to get used to it. I still remember how it used to feel when I could not eat the dishes I ordered. Fortunately a tolerance for chilli is very quick to build up. Persevere, eat food as spicy as you can handle, and then increase the heat over a period of time. Trust me on this, I now eat food spicier than most Thai people can handle, and have been for quite some time.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Secret of that Thai Taste

Most people who have been to Thailand will agree that once you have tasted locally prepared food, then Thai restaurants in the rest of the world pale into insignificance, as the true taste is seldom recreated outside Thailand, but why is this?

The reason is glaringly simple if you watch Thai food being prepared anywhere in the country, from a simple street stall to an up market restaurant – fresh ingredients and good preparation.

Typically, a person preparing a Thai dish will not use any form of pre-prepared seasoning. Instead they will use a mortar and pestle to grind herbs and spices together, to create the flavouring for the dish. The exception to this is curry paste, which will usually be purchased from a local market, although this has previously been prepared in the same way.

In the same way that Thai people pay great attention to the actual preparation of the raw ingredients, they also demand that all food cooked be fresh. Thai people do not stock their fridges, they do not fill up their freezers, instead they work on a buy today eat today basis. Each day, fresh food will be purchased for consumption for that day alone.

So here are the two real tricks to achieving that great Thai taste when cooking at home. Firstly, always use entirely fresh produce whenever you can. Secondly, avoid pre-made or off the shelf seasonings, instead prepare them yourself using the raw ingredients.