Thai cuisine is essentially a marriage of centuries-old influences harmoniously combined into a unique blend of flavours and cultures, panning the globe. Characteristics of Thai food depend on who cooks it, for whom it is cooked, for what occasion, and where it is cooked. Dishes can be refined and adjusted to suit all palates. That’s the beauty of Thai cuisine and a pattern not adopted by many cuisines. That’s in more than many ways the reason for its success in alien countries.
Originally, Thai cooking reflected the characteristics of a waterborne lifestyle. Aquatic animals, plant and herbs were major ingredients. Larger cuts of meat are always shredded and laced with herbs and spices. Traditional Thai cooking methods entail stewing, baking and/or grilling. Chinese influences saw the introduction of frying, stir-frying and deep-frying. Culinary influences from the 17th century onwards included Portuguese, Dutch, French and Japanese. Chillies were introduced to Thai cooking during the late 1600’s by Portuguese missionaries who had acquired a taste for them while serving in South America. Thais were very adapt at aping foreign cooking methods and substituting ingredients.
Overpowering pure spices were toned down and enhanced by fresh herbs such as lemon grass and galangal. Eventually, fewer and less spices were used in Thai curries, while the use of fresh herbs increased. Instead of serving dishes in courses, a Thai meal is served all at once, permitting diners to enjoy complementing combinations of different tasters.
Chef Naowarat Charoenwong says, “A proper Thai meal should consist of a soup, a curry dish with condiments, a dip with accompanying fish and vegetables. A spiced salad may replace the curry dish. The soup can also be spicy, but the curry should be replaced by a non-spiced item. There must be harmony of tastes and textures within individual dishes and the entire meal.”
Chef has being pivotal in bringing excellence to Thai cuisine over 8 years, she has worked in the Arma Thai Restaurant, Blue Ocean Restaurant, Red Snapper Restaurant and Chom Talay Restaurant across Bali and Krabi. This winter, she is at Sofitel, Mumbai to add some flair to the thai food festival hosted by the them. I met her briefly, to understand nuances of the cuisine better and grab a copy or two of her signature recipes.
When I ask her about desserts, she is quick to add,”Thai desserts are made of three principle ingredients: flour, sugar, and coconut. Eggs, however, were later introduced by Portuguese traders.”The desserts usually revolve around ingredients like palm sugar, rice flours, lotus seeds, cassava roots, fresh fruits and durian, offcourse.
On this sweet note she shares her signature recipe
Spaghetti Phad Krapaw Seafood (Stir Fried Spaghetti with Hot Basil.)
120 gm Spaghetti
15 gm Garlic
10 gm Chilli Green Small
10 gm Thai Hot Basil
50 gm Prawns
75 gm Fish Snapper
50 gm Calamari
15 ml Fish Sauce
25 ml Oyster Sauce
50 gm Baby Corn
50 gm Red Capsicum
4 gm Green Peppercorn
10 ml Light Soy Sauce
10 ml Dark Soy Sauce
- Boil Spaghetti and keep aside
- Take oil in a wok and add garlic, chilli, vegetables, stir fry.
- Add Seafood and stir fry again with fish, oyster sauce, light and dark soy sauce
- Toss in the spaghetti and finish with green peppercorn