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Coming to terms with Thai food

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Fish sauce (nam pla):
a clear amber, salty liquid with a fishy aroma, essential for seasoning Thai dishes.

Nam prik pao:
a roasted chile paste containing palm sugar and tamarind.

Roasted rice (khao kua):
finely grounded dry-roasted rice. Northern Thais roast seasonings such as lemon grass and galangal with the rice and then grind them all together. In Central Thailand, plain roasted rice is preferred.

Red curry paste (gaeng daeng):
a hot seasoning paste based on dried red chiles. Other ingredients include kaffir lime peel, galangal, lemon grass, shrimp paste, garlic and spices.

Ginger (khing):
similar to galangal in appearance, but the taste is stronger and spicier. Galangal is more subtly aromatic.

Yellew curry paste (gaeng garee):
a curry paste distinguished by the addition of yellow Indian-style curry powder.

Dried smoked fish (pla haeng):
small dried fish threaded on sticks. They're found in the freezer section of Thai markets.

Thai dried chiles (prik haeng):
small, dried Thai chiles, larger than the skinny hot chiles known as "prik khi nu."

Bai paow:
an herb with long, slim, pointed leaves and a strong, soapy flavor. Bai paow is the Thai name; in Vietnam, it is called "rau ram." This herb is also known as Vietnamese coriander or Vietnamese cilantro.

Culantro (pak chee farang):
also called saw-tooth herb because of the leaves' notched edges. Similar in flavor to cilantro.

Galangal (kha):
a cousin of ginger sometimes called Siamese ginger. It is lighter in color and tinged with pink. Thai markets sell it fresh and frozen.

Thal basil (horapha):
the most common of the several types of basil used in Thailand. The stems are purplish red, and the leaves have a strong anise flavor.

-- Los Angeles Times --


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