Oriental cuisines are interesting because due to the ingredients used and modes of preparation they allow the creation of dishes that are not only tasty and satisfying but are also low in calories.
The Thai culinary tradition is one of the most interesting among Oriental cuisines, because despite some typical traits - such as being spicy and having contrasting flavours, such and sweet and sour, sweet and salty, etc. - it is generally appreciated by most westerners.
Thai cuisine has been subject to various western influences, becase it can easily be adapted to meet the requirements of appetizing, satiating, and low-calory diet regime.
It is no coincidence that Thai people who immigrate to Italy tend to put on weight if they start eating Italian foods – a proof that our cuisine provides dishes not satiating enough.
So, what is so special about Thai food? Let's have a look at peculiar traits and ingredients of Thai cuisine.
Thai rice is long grained. It is usually prepared in special rice cookers with just enough water to cover it; and when the water is completely aborbed, the rice is ready. As in all Asian countries rice is the main staple, and is thus served plain boiled to complement various dishes based on fried vegetables, fish and meat.
Spices and masalas
Widespread use of spices is characteristic of all oriental schools of cookery, and Thailand is no exception. The type and characteristics of the spices used alter from one region to another. As a result of western influences, the Thai tradition has been complemented by the use of aromatic herbs, such as basil and chive, which make some dishes fresher and more Mediterranean in style.
Thailand is famous for its chilli pepper – and any meal should encompass at least one piquant dish.
Fragrant and hot curry sauces, which accompany various dishes, are prepared by grinding herbs and spices in stone mortars. These masalas are often blended with cocoa milk to mellow their strong flavour.
Based on anchovies macerated in water and salt, fish sauce is an essential condiment in Thai cuisine.
This sauce is very often found under its English name. Due to the fact that it is high in sodium, it is better not to use too much, and there is usually no need to add salt to any dishes prepared using fish sauce.
Used almost on any occasion, it has a very intense odour, reminiscent of salted anchovies. It is a most versatile ingredient and secret component of many typically Thai specialities!
Thai dishes are also often prepared with oyster and classic soya sauces. Fried meat, fish and vegetable dishes are served with various sauces - many of which very hot - to enhance the innate qualities of the food.
Oriental cuisine is famous for the almost maniacal consideration paid to culinary aesthetics. Many Thais are adept in cutting spectacular vegetable and fruit decorations. A melon can be turned into a range of genuine masterpieces, and the same is true for carrots, cucumbers and pineapple – all of which are common in Thailand.