Rather than repeat it in every recipe, it goes
without saying that each ingredient should be clean and as fresh as
possible. I will assume that items like onions and garlic have been
peeled and that all fresh produce has been well washed and had any
unattractive pieces removed.
In all my recipes, quantities are approximate. If
I buy two similar looking pineapples from the same stall on different
days, their sweetness may vary considerably. The same goes for most of
the other ingredients, so some judgment and constant tasting while
cooking is required.
Bai Horapa / Bai Krapao /
Bai means leaf in Thai. I use two main varieties
in my cooking. In terms of flavor the bai krapao (K) variety is similar to the basil I've seen
in western supermarkets. The bai horapa (H) variety tends to be more
pointed and has a taste that hints
of aniseed. Often bai horapa is also provided raw as a side dish with
other raw vegetables such as long green beans and sliced white cabbage. When
used as a garnish bai krapao is often fried until crisp.
Krachai / Finger Root
This is probably on of the
more difficult ingredients to find outside Thailand. I have also seen it
referred to as Chinese key.
Kapi / Shrimp Paste
A pungent, salty paste of
dried shrimp, which is normally purchased already prepared. It is also
known in Malaysia and Singapore as either Blachan or Belacan.
Kha / Galanga
Although Kha looks like a
bit like normal ginger it tastes completely different. It has a fresh
taste reminiscent of the odor of young pine needles. It is one of the
essential ingredients of many Thai dishes. Conventional ginger should
NOT be considered a substitute.
Makrud / Kaffir Lime
The kaffir lime looks much
like a normal lime except that it has a very bumpy surface. The leaves
from the kaffir lime tree (bai
makrud) are one of the most widely used
ingredients in Thai cooking.
Makur / Egg Plant
There are large makur, there
are small makur, there are long makur and there are round ones. They are
members of the aubergine family.
Nam Pla / Fish Sauce
You should be able to
purchase this in bottles from any Asian grocery shop.
Nam Prik Pau
This is a roasted chili
paste that can usually be purchased commercially. It is extremely
pungent when fried. It will make your eyes water and cause you to choke
if your kitchen is not well ventilated. Because it is easy to buy ready
made in Thailand, I have not had to resort to making it myself for many
years, but in case you are not so lucky, here is a recipe for it:-
To make approx half a kilo:-
150gm Dried Red Chili, 50gm dry shrimp, 50gm
kapi, 50gm tamarind (we refer to this
as makham peuak or makham heng, but 'heng' suggests 'dry', when in
reality this is the dark brown sticky type of tamarind - not the fresh
fruit) 50gm garlic, 50gm shallots, 50gm sugar, 25gm salt, 25ml lime
juice and 100ml cooking oil.
Pound together the dry ingredients (inc. salt and sugar) in a pestel and
mortar. Chop the garlic and shallots finely and pound them and the kapi,
in as well.
In a bowl mix the pounded
ingredients together with the tamarind, the lime juice and the cooking
Fry the resulting paste very gently in a wok for about 30 minutes,
frequently turn and press the paste with a large wooden spoon. The oil
already blended into the paste should be sufficient for this gentle
frying process, but if it dries out because of too much heat add a
little more oil to keep it moist, but do not swamp it.
When cool empty into a half
liter sized storage jar. Since there are no artificial preservatives, I
recommend you store it in a refrigerator.
Prik Kee Noo / Mouse Dropping Chilies
There are big chilies and
there are very tiny chilies. The tiny ones which are usually a mix of
red and green colored chilies (usually there are many more green ones
than red ones) are called prik kee noo. These small ones will blow your
socks off, the larger ones are milder.
Prik Thai / Peppercorns
Prik Thai are the normal
hard dry peppercorns, while
Prik Thai On
are young green peppercorns which are usually still attached to their
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