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Tasty Thai Food – Spicy, Salty, and Sour

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Food is like a drug. How true is that? This is especially true for me when it comes to Thai food. Once I get started on any Thai dish, I get addicted to more of the same. But hey, there has to be worse addictions that good food right? Some culinary writers describe Thai food as being similar to Chinese food but with a sting. Well, as someone who has lived in Thailand for a number of years now, I think the aromatic, delicious, hot, spicy Thai food is in a class of it’s own, and there is nothing to compare it’s uniqueness with.

Another fascinating fact with Thai food is the variety. If I lived here for a 100 years and tried a different dish everyday day, I don’t believe I would have time to sample it all. The county is split into 5 regions; North, Northeast, East, Central, and South and each region, province, and sub province, all have their own unique dishes and foodstuffs.

Thai food should not just be categorised as being hot and spicy though, as there are many herbs and spices which are also combined to give the individual dishes their distinctive tastes and aromas.

Ever heard of Thai food described using the 3 S’s of flavor? Spicy, Salty, and Sour. It’s the harmonious blend of these 3 that contribute to this gorgeous gastronomy. Let me break this down a little for you.

Spicy – Chili (Prik) : There’s a whole history on how the chili became a part of Thai cooking and I’ll save that for another article, but basically the Europeans, (Spanish or Portuguese) introduced the Chili into the old Siam in the 16th century, and it’s been and integral part of Thai cooking ever since. People who try Thai food for the first time should do so with extreme caution, as there are some dishes that burn your throat so hard that it’s painful to the inexperienced pallet.

Fish Sauce – Salty : Fish sauce is simply called “Nam pla” which when translated means water fish. In Thai cooking this us the second most important ingredient. Fish sauce is made by brewing fish or shrimp mixed with salt and decanting the fermented result into bottles. On its own it smells quite unpleasant but when added to the cooking or sprinkled over rice, it really does contribute to the exotic flavors of Thai food.

Lime – Sour : The lime known in Thai language as “Manao”, is used at every opportunity in a whole variety of Thai dishes. The main role of the lime is to repress the salty taste and strong odor of fish sauce.


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