Ingredients for Thai cooking
Many people think that the ingredients used in Thai cooking are especially exotic, that they are expensive or not easy to find in shops. This is not true at all; many grocery stores carry all these wonderful, nutritional foods very inexpensively. Some of the main ingredients used are as follows:
Kaffir Lime Leaves: Citrus hystrix or Citrus amblycarpa belongs is a type of lime native to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Called makrut in Thailand and limau parut in some regions of Southeast Asia.
Everyone at some point in their gastronomic adventures has eaten Thai red curry or the green one; sipped on the spicy Tom Yum and the Tom Kha soups and wondered what is it that makes these dishes so zesty and flavorful? It's the lime leaves in the food that lends them that distinct flavor typical of the Southeast Asian cuisine.
Apart from culinary uses for which most people know this plant, it has other uses which make it a regular in most Thai homes, restaurants and backyards In popular Thai culture, this plant is known to cleanse the mind and the body and ward off evil spirit, which explains every house having one!
It Is a digestive aid with many known health benefits, the leaves cleanse the blood while helping maintain healthy teeth and gums. In Thailand the leaves are added to shampoo (said to prevent hair loss) and used as deodorant.
Thai dishes: All curries, tum Yum Soup, lemongrass chicken
|Lemongrass: Lemongrass is distinctively perfumed with a
delightful citrus scent that is pleasing to the senses. It is commonly
used to tone down stronger flavors within Thai dishes and impart a
fragrance and delicacy. In terms of health, it is excellent to eat for
anyone who suffers from digestive problems, or that suffers from issues
with an inactive or troublesome bladder, as it will help and encourage
it to function normally. It is also incredibly rich in anti-oxidants
which can help in the fight against inflammation within the body caused
by any number of illnesses or ailments.
Thai Dishes: Tum Yum Soup, Lemongrass chicken
|Galangal: Galangal is perhaps not well known to many
people, but it is invaluable in the creation of many authentic Thai
dishes. Again, it is a super-food in terms of it’s ability to help with
any gastro-intestinal problems, particularly bloating, as it has a very
calming and easing effect on the system. Within cooking it offers a
slightly hot taste that can temper the stronger flavors of some of the
more pungent meats and fishes used in Thai cuisine. Galangal is also
highly anti-bacterial and so is perfect for those who may suffer from
complaints like stomach ulcers. It is also incredibly rich in iron, so
is a good choice to include in the diet if you are anemic or maybe do
not eat a lot of meat and need to find it from other sources.
Thai dishes: Soups (Tum Yum etc.)
|Ginger: In Western cooking, ginger, more often than not
is bought ready powdered and primarily used as an addition to sweet
dishes and desserts, which for some means it can be incredibly off
putting. However, the fresh root, cooked in stir-fries is completely
different. It has warmth to it and a delicate taste that is not pungent,
nor will it over burden the palate. In terms of health, ginger root is
something that is well known to aid
mental health and states of anxiety
or depression. It has a calming and soothing effect on the mind and the
body when taken as part of a soothing drink, very often made up by
steeping the root in boiling water with a little lemon and honey added
to it. This also is an excellent tonic for anyone suffering the effects
of a cold or sore throat as well as being an effective anti-spasmodic
tonic to aid the symptoms of something like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Thai Dishes: Ginger Fish, Ginger Chicken
|Pandan Leaves: Pandan is again something that is
perhaps not as well known as it should be outside of Asian cooking. It
is a leaf that is absolutely power packed with tannins, anti-oxidants
and alkaloids, all essential for the health and strength of the immune
system and good tonics for anyone suffering from issues with their
bladder, as it can help maintain regularity and ease any discomfort.
They are also an excellent choice for anyone who is feverish or
suffering from such illnesses as an ear infection or chest discomfort
due to a cough or cold. The leaves can be chewed raw or turned into a
soothing juice to help with toothache or bleeding gums as they will numb
pain and have an anti-bacterial effect.
Thai Dishes: Sweet Sticky Rice (dessert)
The staple ingredients of many Thai dishes number many more than are listed above, and can all be interchangeable in a variety of different recipes. Thai food is incredibly nutritionally dense because the foods are primarily stir-fried or cooked very quickly in steam over a high heat. This means that they retain all their goodness and health benefits.
Foods that are boiled or microwaved can soon lose their nutrients, not to mention their vibrant colors and tastes. By keeping the cooking to a minimum and only using high quality oils or seasonings, or even turning any one of the ingredients listed above into a soothing tisane or tea, with something like honey to sweeten, can mean that these foods are still just as good for you as if you ate them raw!