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Some Thoughts on Thai and American Fusion Approaches to Food

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Various fusion approaches to food are more or less well-known, but Thai peanut sauce in America appears to be an interesting example of developing a product to market as authentic which does not correlate for the most part with food in Thailand. Peanuts are used in Thailand in many dishes, but generally in a form different from the products found in America. In America, peanut sauce seems to be a product which has taken on a lot more prominence, like when a flashlight illuminates a relatively small piece of the landscape, in an attempt to symbolize the food of Thailand more generally.

Thai food is also widely known for health benefits, and many studies support this view. For example, many fresh herbs and spices found in Thai food have antioxidants which help prevent inflammation and protect against various diseases, free radicals and toxins. Ingredients to consider include basil, fresh chillies, coriander, galangal, lemongrass and turmeric.

There are links between the history of traditional Chinese medicine and many of the ingredients found in Thai food (set also within the broader context given many people in Thailand came from China). For example, lemongrass has been used for centuries to treat conditions such as: flus and colds, fevers, headaches, arthritis, abdominal pain and other stomach conditions. There is a lot of potential for combining the health and medicinal knowledge and practices of the West and East.

Not all ingredients available in Thailand can be readily found in the US; however, sometimes a frozen or pickled version rather than a fresh version can be found in the US to approximate the Thai version. Creativity in cooking is a good quality, and so I would not argue simply for only making traditional Thai dishes without variation. I think it is valuable to learn a significant amount about the traditional Thai dishes so that the range of creativity is bigger.


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