Just look at this leaning tower of Oreo-topped triple-layer mudslide cake! Mudsliding its way into our hearts, that is. But then again we are easily distracted by cakes. Too much information? Also inside: pineapple water with blue-green algae, coconut-kasu mousse, and spirulina seaweed tuile. Why have sprinkles when you can have huge chunks of sea salt decorating your brownies? These caramel-coated ooey-gooey squares from The New Sugar and Spice , by Samantha Seneviratne, are the antidote to all that is wrong in the world.
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The Earth is round, the sun sets in the West—you know the drill. Coconut oil, coconut cream, and coconut flakes are the holy trinity of this toasted tropical cake from Eric Werner and Mya Henry of Hartwood in trendy Tulum, Mexico. Red curry paste, for instance, could be called phrik kaeng phet or khrueang kaeng phet in Thai, but also nam phrik kaeng phet. Both nam phrik and phrik kaeng are prepared by crushing together chilies with various ingredients such as garlic and shrimp paste using a mortar and pestle.
Some nam phrik are served as a dip with vegetables such as cucumbers, cabbage and yard-long beans, either raw or blanched. One such paste is nam phrik num , a paste of pounded fresh green chilies, shallots, garlic and coriander leaves. The sweet roasted chili paste called nam phrik phao is often used as an ingredient in tom yam or when frying meat or seafood, and it is also popular as a spicy "jam" on bread, or served as a dip with prawn crackers. The dry nam phrik kung , made with pounded dried shrimp kung haeng , is often eaten plain with rice and a few slices of cucumber.
He provides us with a recipe for nam phrik with pla ra and onions in Du Royaume de Siam , an account of his mission to Thailand published in The soy sauces which are used in Thai cuisine are of Chinese origin, and the Thai names for them are wholly or partially loanwords from the Teochew dialect : si-io dam black soy sauce , si-io khao light soy sauce , si-io wan sweet soy sauce , and taochiao fermented whole soy beans.
Namman hoi oyster sauce is also of Chinese origin. It is used extensively in vegetable and meat stir fries. Thai dishes use a wide variety of herbs, spices and leaves rarely found in the West. The characteristic flavor of kaffir lime leaves bai makrut appears in many Thai soups e. The Thai lime manao is smaller, darker and sweeter than the kaffir lime, which has a rough looking skin with a stronger lime flavor.
Kaffir lime leaves or rind is frequently combined with galangal kha and lemongrass takhrai , either kept whole in simmered dishes or blended together with liberal amounts of chilies and other aromatics to make curry paste. Fresh Thai basil , distinctively redolent of cloves , and with stems which are often tinged with a purple color, are used to add fragrance in certain dishes such as green curry.
Spices and spice mixtures used in Thai cuisine include phong phalo five-spice powder , phong kari curry powder , and fresh and dried peppercorns phrik thai. Northern Thai larb uses a very elaborate spice mix, called phrik lap , which includes ingredients such as cumin , cloves , long pepper , star anise , prickly ash seeds and cinnamon. Besides kaffir lime leaves, several other tree leaves are used in Thai cuisine such as cha-om , the young feathery leaves of the Acacia pennata tree.
These leaves can be cooked in omelettes, soups and curries or eaten raw in northern Thai salads. Banana flowers are also used in Thai salads or as a vegetable ingredient for certain curries. The leaves and flowers of the neem tree sadao are also eaten blanched. Phak lueat leaves from the Ficus virens are cooked in curries, and bai makok from the Spondias mombin can be eaten raw with a chili paste.
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Five main chilies are generally used as ingredients in Thai food. One chili is very small about 1. The slightly larger chili phrik khi nu "mouse-dropping chili" is the next hottest. The green or red phrik chi fa "sky pointing chili" is slightly less spicy than the smaller chilies. The very large phrik yuak , which is pale green in color, is the least spicy and used more as a vegetable.
Lastly, the dried chilies: phrik haeng are spicier than the two largest chilies and dried to a dark red color. Other typical ingredients are the several types of eggplant makhuea used in Thai cuisine, such as the pea-sized makhuea phuang and the egg-sized makhuea suai , often also eaten raw. Although broccoli is often used in Asian restaurants in the west in phat phak ruam stir fried mixed vegetables and rat na rice noodles served in gravy , it was never used in any traditional Thai food in Thailand and was rarely seen in Thailand. Usually in Thailand, khana is used, for which broccoli is a substitute.
Several types of mushroom het also feature in Thai cuisine such as straw mushrooms het fang , shiitake het hom , and white jelly fungus het hu nu khao. Flowers are also commonly used ingredients in many Thai dishes, either as a vegetable, such as dok khae Sesbania grandiflora and huapli the flower bud of the banana , or as a food coloring, such as with the blue-colored dok anchan the flowers of the Clitoria ternatea , which can also be eaten raw or fried. Fresh fruit forms a large part of the Thai diet, and are customarily served after a meal as dessert.
The Scottish author John Crawfurd , sent on an embassy to Bangkok in , writes in his account of the journey:.
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Fruit is not only eaten on its own, but often served with spicy dips made from sugar, salt, and chilies. Fruits are also used in certain Thai chili pastes, such as in nam phrik long rue made with madan a close relative of the mangosteen ,  and nam phrik luk nam liap , salted black Chinese olive chilli paste. Although many of the exotic fruits of Thailand may have been sometimes unavailable in Western countries, Asian markets now import such fruits as rambutan and lychees.
In Thailand one can find papaya , jackfruit , mango , mangosteen , langsat , longan , pomelo , pineapple , rose apples , durian , Burmese grapes and other native fruits. This single province is responsible for half of the durian production of Thailand and a quarter of the world production. The langsat Lansium parasiticum , for which Uttaradit is famous, is a fruit that is similar in taste to the longan. From the coconut comes coconut milk , used both in curries and desserts, and coconut oil.
The grated flesh of a mature coconut is used raw or toasted in sweets, salads and snacks such as miang kham. From the stalk of the flowers comes a sap that can be used to make coconut vinegar , alcoholic beverages, and sugar. Coconut milk and other coconut-derived ingredients feature heavily in the cuisines of central and southern Thailand. In contrast to these regions, coconut palms do not grow as well in northern and northeastern Thailand, where in wintertime the temperatures are lower and where there is a dry season that can last five to six months. In northern Thai cuisine, only a few dishes, most notably the noodle soup khao soi , use coconut milk.
In the southern parts of northeastern Thailand, where the region borders Cambodia , one can again find dishes containing coconut. It is also here that the people eat non-glutinous rice, just as in central and southern Thailand, and not glutinous rice as they do in northern Thailand and in the rest of northeastern Thailand.
Apples , pears , peaches , grapes , and strawberries , which do not traditionally grow in Thailand and in the past had to be imported, have become increasingly popular in the last few decades since they were introduced to Thai farmers by the Thai Royal Projects, starting in , and the Doi Tung Project since These temperate fruit grow especially well in the cooler, northern Thai highlands , where they were initially introduced as a replacement for the cultivation of opium , together with other crops such as cabbages, tea , and arabica coffee.
According to the Thai government's The Eleventh National Economic and Social Development Plan — , Thailand is number one in the world in the application of chemicals in agriculture. The report stated that, "The use of chemicals in the agricultural and industrial sectors is growing while control mechanisms are ineffective making Thailand rank first in the world in the use of registered chemicals in agriculture. Vegetables with the highest levels of contamination were Chinese mustard greens, kale, hot basil, parsley, chilis, and cauliflower.
Fruits with the highest contamination were tangerines, rose apples, guavas, and grapes. In prior years, "Q-Mark" goods showed a higher prevalence of contamination, In a survey of hydroponically-grown vegetables, ThaiPAN, in late, tested 30 hydroponic vegetables purchased at Thai fresh markets and supermarkets.
Of 30 vegetables tested, 19 contained noxious chemical levels above maximum limits. Three samples were contaminated, but at levels below the legal maximum. Eight samples were free of harmful chemicals. Whereas many Thai dishes are now familiar in the West, the vast majority are not. In many of the dishes below, different kinds of protein, or combinations of protein, are interchangeable as the main ingredient.
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Beef nuea , chicken kai , pork mu , duck pet , tofu taohu , fish pla , prawns or shrimp kung , crab pu , shellfish hoi , or egg khai can, for example, all be used as main ingredients for kaeng phet red curry. Thus kaeng phet kai is red curry with chicken and kaeng phet mu is red curry made with pork. Very often, a Thai breakfast can consist of the same dishes with rice which are also eaten for lunch or dinner.
The following dishes are viewed as being specific breakfast dishes but they can also be found at any other moment of the day:  . Some of these eateries offer a large selection of pre-cooked dishes, others are specialized in only a one, or a few dishes with rice. The cuisine has also incorporated many Thai Chinese dishes.
The staple food of Isan is glutinous rice and most of the Isaan food is spicy and cooked with local ingredients found on the farms all through northeastern Thailand. Isaan people primarily get their income from farming. Rice, sugar cane, pineapple, potato, and rubber are all farmed in this region. As in northeastern Thailand, glutinous rice, not jasmine rice, is eaten as the staple food.
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Southern Thais, just like the people of central Thailand to the north, and the people of Malaysia to the south, eat non-glutinous rice as their staple food. Although most Thai meals finish with fresh fruit, sometimes sweet snacks, often eaten between meals, will also be served as a dessert.
Ice cream was introduced to Thailand during the reign of King Rama V when the first ice cream machine was imported to Thailand. At first, ice couldn't be produced in Thailand. That led to importing ice from Singapore.
Ice cream was then an upper-class treat, but over time ice cream became more widely available and the product was improved by replacing coconut water with coconut milk. There were two types of ice cream in Thailand.