The following ingredients are essential for Thai cookery.
Chillies: Small red, small green, long red, long green and some fatter than others but the smallest are the hottest. The amount suggested in the recipes will give a taste that Thais would consider Okay, but not really hot.
Coconut Milk: Can be prepared from fresh coconut, desiccated coconut, powdered coconut and coconut block. It’s also available in cans. To make coconut milk from fresh or desiccated flesh, pour hot water over a given amount of coconut in a bowl and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Pour the mixture thought muslin – lined sieve into a container> gather up the corners of the muslin and squeeze out the remaining liquid. This is thick coconut milk and if you refrigerated for a little while a thick cream will rise to the top which can be spooned off. Thin coconut milk is obtained by repeating the process with the once – used flesh, a second pressing.
Also coconut milk is usually in small foil packets can be found in most Chinese and oriental stores.
Coriander: Coriander is used extensively as a flavoring, and as a garnish. Te root is also used, often pounded with garlic and other ingredients to make a marinade. Leaf and root are bougth complete. After rising and drying, the roots will keep in a sealed container in a refrigerator for several days. Coriander is now readily available in supermarkets and stores as well as in specialist shops.
Fish Sauce, Fish Gravy: This is the basic sovoury flavor of Thai cooking for which there is no substitute. Available bottled in Chinese and oriental stores. It’s made from fermented fish or seafood and imparts a very distinctive flavor. It’s quite salty. There are several varieties: anchovy, prawn, fish, squid, with some variation in strength, colour and thus flavour, according to brand. Obviously, if you find you have bought a strongly – flavoured variety you will have to modify the amount you use.
Garlic: Indispensable in Thai cooking. The Asian variety is much smaller than that usual inEurope and the recipes have assumed the use of the European. While many people use garlic crushers, thai cookers prefer to chop the cloves finely by hand.
Lemon Grass: Again, an indispensable part of Thai cuisine. The stalks are bought in bundles of about 6-8 and are usually18-20 cm long. The ends are trimmed ans the stalk finely sliced. One average stalk will give approximately 45 ml finely sliced lemmon grass. The stalks will last quite well for 2-3 weeks in a refrigerator, ad chopped lemon grass can be put in a plastic bag and frozen. Chopped lemon grass is also available dried in small packets.
Lime Leaves: These are the dark green glossy leaves of the Kaffir lime and impart a pungent lemon – lime flavour. They are available in some oriental stores and are worth looking for they are usually packaged as small branches in plastic bag. They keep well and, of course, can be frozen. They are also available dried. Slicing is best achieved by using kitchen scissors to cut fine strips of the leaf.
Aubergine or Eggplant: The pea aubergine is, as its name suggest, the size of a pea or small marble and small green aubergine is about 2.5 cm in diameter. Otherwise the yellow and black aubergines commonly found outsideAsia may be substituted, cut down to the size of the green aubergine. These varieties of eggplants not easily available in México but you can find it at Oriental Stores.
Basil, Holy and Sweet: Fresh holy basil can be bought in Oriental stores and is also available dried. It has a darker leaf than the Eropean basil and a slightly aniseed, sharper flavour.
Curry, Paste and Powder: Several kinds of paste are used in Thai cuisine and most are available pre – prepared in foil packets. But it is much more satisfactory to make your own and recipes.
Galangal: This looks similar to ginger root, but has a more translucent skin and a pinkish tinge. Its peeled like ginger, but sliced rather than slivered. It’s available fresh in oriental stores and also can be bought dried.
Dry Shiitake Mushroom : It is an edible mushroom fromEast Asia that provides a distinctive flavor to dishes and is distinguished for its medicinal properties. Straw and oyster mushrooms can be found conveniently in cans.
Shallots: These are the small red onions usually found in Chinese and similar shops. Small onion can be substituted.
Jasmine Rice: Is an aromatic rice, whose harvest is obtained only once a year. Used to accompany almost every dish and is prepared steamed.