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Old 07-17-2005, 09:59 AM   #1
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Taste of Thai

Every now and again I make curry paste. This opened a discussion with my younger brother about 'what is a true Thai flavor'. Curry always makes me think of Thai food but Tim says Lemongrass reminds him of Thai and that curry is too universal to be Thai specific (whatever).

My question;

What flavor or flavors remind you most of Thai cooking?

Bryan

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Old 07-18-2005, 11:31 AM   #2
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There are also many, many Thai dishes that don't use curry at all.

I'll say fish sauce and lemongrass. But again, those are used in Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisines, as well, so they are not uniquely Thai.
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Old 07-18-2005, 11:36 AM   #3
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For me it would be lemongrass. Like Jenny said, it is not specific to just Thai food, but when I think of Thai I think of lemongrass. I might also add cilantro as well.
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Old 07-18-2005, 11:44 AM   #4
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Smile Green Curry Paste

Hello!

I'm new here and thought I'd chime in since this is such a fun topic and one I can relate to these days. I recently started cooking Thai dishes at home So far, the two ingredients that seem to remind me of Thai restaurant food are 1) coconut milk and 2) Green Curry Paste.

Boy, is green curry paste ever hot. You have to be careful with that stuff. The flavor is excellent, but too much will burn your tongue off.

Fish sauce also tastes very Thai to me, but I don't like fish, so I don't use a lot of it. As for cilantro, I love the stuff, but it reminds me of both Tex Mex and Thai at the same time.

I haven't used much lemon grass, but I do have some dried Penzey's lemon grass which I plan to break out soon.
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Old 07-18-2005, 12:43 PM   #5
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Hello Cookie Monster!
Welcome to the family!
I'm with you when it comes to fish sauce - I always look for a substitute in the recipe! I love cilantro as well, and tend to overuse it quite often

We have some other texans on this site, and I'm sure they'll be along shortly to welcome you too.
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Old 07-18-2005, 12:58 PM   #6
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I'd say Coconut Milk and Lemon Grass are the two ingredients that spring to mind when thinking Thai.

Curry (in my mind) is more Indian.

I realize that all of these ingredients are pretty widespread, but these still conjure thoughts of the cuisines indicated.

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Old 07-18-2005, 01:17 PM   #7
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For me personally curry is a sign of Indian cuisine.
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Old 07-18-2005, 02:19 PM   #8
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When I think of Thai I think of cilantro first thing - then coconut milk, lemongrass, and finally curry. It may not be in all Thai dishes but when you walk into a Thai restaurant that's what you smell - and it smells heavenly!
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Old 07-18-2005, 04:41 PM   #9
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I think I will have to give up the curry, It does remind more of Indian cuisine, and go with more of a lemon grass and coconut milk combination.

I was digging through some spice blends the other day to try and define a Thai flavor and came across the following rub recipe. I used it on chicken.

1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Anise seed
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspooon ground cloves

I thought it was great. Reminded me of Asian cuisine but not Thai specifically. Maybe I will play with using lemongrass and ginger and see if it hits any nerves.

Bryan
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Old 07-18-2005, 05:00 PM   #10
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I'm with CharlieD!

In the UK, 'curry' usually means Indian subcontinental food (most of our 'Indian' restaurants are actually Bangladeshi or Pakistani). Thai has become popular over perhaps the past 10 years or so - but I prefer 'Indian' curries!
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Old 07-19-2005, 10:02 AM   #11
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Cookie! That recipe sounds really tasty! You ought to post it on it's own thread so more folks will see it - yum!
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Old 07-19-2005, 01:49 PM   #12
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I was lucky enough to live with a group of very lovely Thai boys at university. They used fish sauce, chilli, lemon grass when they could afford it, and lots of sugar to take the fishy taste away, which used to make me laugh (in a nice way) they would splash in the sauce, taste and throw in sugar! Lemongrass was not freely available in 1990's Tasmania so they made do.
They used a lot more vegetables than you find in restaurant Thai cuisine.
I really miss them, especially Bhun Pheng, who was so funny. The uni had lots of mushroom compost laid down and he used to pick all the mushrooms and cook them. Sadly the university didn't like a sandaled and shorted Thai boy picking mushrooms by the side of the road, and had them poisoned. He just couldn't believe our attitudes in the west to how we waste food.
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Old 07-20-2005, 07:54 AM   #13
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I'm very lucky to be living in Bangkok for half a year now. On top of many wonderful things, it's been an amazing gastronomic experience. For me what makes up Thai flavor is the creative combination of contrasting yet complementary flavors, colors, and textures -- sweet, sour, hot, salty, crunchy, spicy -- and always, the exotic taste of fresh herbs (like Thai Basil, cilantro, kaffir lime leaves, mint leaves, lemongrass, etc). An indispensable condiment on any self-respecting Thai's table are chopped bird's eye chili in fish sauce.

They have an incredible appetizer dish here called Mien Kam. All the ingredients are laid out on a tray and you're supposed to place 1 or 2 pieces of each ingredient on a small cookie-sized round leaf (mind you, this is a leaf from some plant and not from a vegetable): small dried shrimps, ginger, peanuts, toasted coconut shavings, chopped chili, diced onion, diced lime. Top everything with a thick sweet coconut paste and roll the whole thing up like a tiny spring roll. Pop it all in your mouth in one go. I promise you, you won't believe the amazing explosion of flavours in your mouth!

How the Thais thought to combine all these different things to make such an incredibly simple but unforgettable dish is beyond me. Just one more thing that fascinates me about the Thai people.
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Old 07-20-2005, 08:14 AM   #14
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Wow, excellent. Great insite Chopstix. Do you know of any Thai recipe sites that you would recommend for authentic Thai cuisine. I have Thai cookbooks including Keo's Thai Cuisine which I like a lot, but could always use new resources.
Thanks
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Old 07-20-2005, 08:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bknox
...I was digging through some spice blends the other day to try and define a Thai flavor and came across the following rub recipe. I used it on chicken...
Thanks for posting the recipe, Bryan. Since the anise seed caught my eye, I ground up a batch of the blend last night, and tried it on some chicken. It was great!

Question for you: Normally, when fresh ground pepper is called for, I grind it by hand in my pepper mill. But since making a double batch required two tablespoons of pepper, I elected to use my electric spice mill since it was already out to grind the anise seed & cloves.

I measured out two tablespoons of peppercorns to grind.

Is there a better rule-of-thumb when measuring peppercorns when the end goal is ground pepper?

Thanks,
Tom
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Old 07-20-2005, 08:43 AM   #16
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How about it! i thought the anise seed was unusual as well but thought the dry rub was excellent.

As far as measuring anything, my rule of thumb is get as close as possible. I use a coffee mill as well to grind spices and find that if you measure before you grind it is pretty close. My biggest problem is not grinding it into a fine powder because I prefer pepper to be a little crunchy.

Glad you enjoyed the recipe. I am going to attempt a new one tonight that hopefully will be more specific to a Thai blend. I failed horribly last night and I had to make my wife something else. If I succeed I will post the recipe.

Bryan
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Old 07-20-2005, 01:52 PM   #17
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Hi Bryan, I don't know of authentic Thai recipe websites. I have a couple of basic Thai cookbooks which so far are a disappointment. Somehow I still have to tweak the recipes A LOT to match the authentic taste I get from the local restaurants and eateries. In general, I would avoid all Thai cookbooks not authored by a Thai. Anyway, between me and my Thai housekeeper who knows a few local dishes, we have recreated my favorite Thai dishes to near authentic-tasting levels (I think). (Also, a big factor to authentic taste is the use of authentic ingredients.)
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Old 07-20-2005, 03:00 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chopstix
In general, I would avoid all Thai cookbooks not authored by a Thai.

Also, a big factor to authentic taste is the use of authentic ingredients.

In general I agree but this book is a huge exception to the rule: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846

It's a fabulous Thai cookbook, albeit perhaps too authentic for many.

And I agree 1000000000000% about the use of authentic ingredients.
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Old 07-20-2005, 08:28 PM   #19
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Keo's Thai Cuisine is written by a Thai gentleman who owns a couple of restaurants. I like all the food in the book and it taste authentic although what I would consider fancier dishes, probably served at his place. If you could impart a local recipe to test out I would love to give it a shot.

I am still attempting to make a Thai dry rub. Now on version 3 I may be getting closer to what I expect. When I get one worth trying I will post the recipe.

Thanks,
bryan
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Old 07-20-2005, 10:35 PM   #20
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for me, thai is galangal, kaffir lime, lemongrass, cilantro, thai bird chiles (fresh, dried whole, dry ground, or vinegar paste), chopped peanuts, thai basil, nuoc mam, and garlic.it's interesting how we think of the spices used when thinking of thai, rather than any specific whole dishes.
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