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 / Basil

Bai means leaf in Thai. I use two main varieties of basil 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.

The first of many pictures of Thai food ingredients. This one is a photo of two different types of Thai Basil, bai horapa and bai krapao. The pictures are here to help people find the right type for the dish they are cooking. In later pictures of this section no photo description has been provided, since the picture is of the item described in which the picture is contained.

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 oil.

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 stem.

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2 Pints = 1 liter

1 Floz = 30 ml

2 Lbs = 1 kg

1 Oz = 30 gm

1 Inch = 2.5 cm

These are very approximate, don't use them for your children's home work, but they are good enough for our purposes


Copyright 2004-6 Warunee Mekkhunthod - All rights reserved.