We know that the result of Thai cooking is fairly awe inspiring, even to those people that know it well. It is not difficult to achieve a similar result given the right ingredients however. Many techniques are completely foreign to those of us that might not be used to cooking in this style. It is very easy to pick up the basics and achieve great tasting dishes with a minimum of effort.
We are going to give you a short and simple intro to a few basics that everybody needs to get the hang of. We have put these into a type of FAQ format to help you. One thing that you need to know as a real basic though is that Thai food is cooked according to taste. When you go to a restaurant in Thailand and open the usual book that is the menu you might assume that like western restaurants what is on the menu has a standard preparation method. Wrong. A Thai will order a dish off the menu and can then customise the dish in terms of heat, saltiness, sweetness and even ingredients. Thus there is no 'correct' recipe for anything !
Everything is flexible, you make dishes with the things that you like most, your favourite vegetables, your favourite meat, or none. Another key difference with Thai cooking is their use of three flavours which we in the west are fairly unfamiliar with. The first of these is hot, which we are getting used to, the others are bitter and sour, both flavours which we are taught to not like as children. The Thai belief however is that these flavours are just as important as sweet and salty and they are incorporated into Thai cooking regularly. The great Thai soup, Tom Yam is a sweet and sour soup. Sweet and sour when manufactured outside of Thailand has no sour component, yet Tom Yam is enjoyed by all visitors to Thailand.