When in Rome eat like the Romans, when in Koh Chang cook like a Thai! Well, that was a bad phrase but we are going to have to go with it. In between slicing mango’s, frying rice, wondering what exactly is Som Tam and just how hot is a Thai green chilli one can get quite confused with all the details of Thai food. That’s why you need a Thai cooking class…
History: Thai food is famous throughout the world and it has a rich and wonderful history. With Thailand being at the cross-roads of China and India it is easy to see how their cuisine was influenced, mixed and fused between the two. With most of Thailand having such a close connection to the sea the first meals historically were based on sea-food and vegetables.
As time went on the inclusion of meat was involved but with their Buddhist background it was shredded and mixed with spices and herbs (so you won’t find a traditional Thai steak anywhere), as they did not want to eat large chunks of meat. So it is sliced, diced, mixed and quite different than in the West, almost more of a mince meat effect really…
With the introduction of Indian foods and cooking the Thais took that and then fused that with their own cooking methods and replaced many of the main ingredients such as Ghee with coconut milk. The curries are lighter than East Indian, but they are unforgettable. Thai cooking uses fewer spices than East Indian cooking and a lot more herbs.
China influenced the culinary arts here also with the introduction of noodles, rice and methods of deep frying, grilling and baking. Then along in the 1700s came chilli from Portuguese traders and later with the inclusion of French, Japanese and even Dutch methods of cooking the modern dishes of Thailand were made. Truly a fusion of styles, cultures and tastes! Something truly Thai is the food and the Thai love of food!
How to Eat: Thais love to eat communally and not quite like in the West. Meals are made to be shared and it usually consists of one more main dish than there are people. Everyone has a bowl of rice, perhaps a soup, and everyone then digs in. The correct way is to hold your spoon in your right hand and your fork in the left. Due to the shredding and small sizes of cuts there is usually no need for a knife at all.
So you don’t get a plate of anything to yourself, be sure to share! A real traditional Thai meal will have the chef do his best to blend sweet with sour, spicy with bland dishes, and subtle with powerful, again the whole Buddhist concept of balance…
All dishes are served at the same time (ideally) and after supper the inclusion of super sweet desserts and fruit is the usual fare. For most Thais dinner is a very communal affair for friend and family and it is a very social occasion. Supper is a fun and social time, so relax and enjoy!
Thai Food is Healthy: Lets be honest, Thai women are famous throughout the world for their beauty and health – it does have something to do to with the food! Thai foods and cooking methods do not use a lot of heavy stocks or oils and thus the food keeps its nutrient value quite well. Coupled with the fact food must be as fresh as possible and usually not overcooked the nutrient level, again stays quite high.
Surprisingly, the use of a lot of herbs and some spices that are in the meals are also used for medicinal purposes – so one can say they are truly getting a decent and healthy meal when one eats Thai! Although, if you want to stay on the very healthy end of the scale – skip the deep-fried dishes of course.
Seafood: Koh Chang is actually famous in Thailand for having some of the best seafood, so why not try some dishes and see why that is exactly! Many Thai dishes are based on fish and other sea life, and so here is the place to indulge those tastes.
Easy To Make: although Thai cooking may look hard there are a few basic steps that once learned makes all the dishes easier to handle as one learns more. Basically there are a few steps that go into every meal and from that it is just expanding your core concepts… any good teacher with a Thai cooking class will take you from the simple to the complex in about a day.
Some Thai Dishes to Get You Started!
- Pad Thai: The starter dish for all Thai taste tests, just order and start here! Noodle and all kind of good things
- Papaya Salad
- Green Curry
- Red Curry
- Pa Pai: Thai Spring rolls
- Khai Yat Sai: Spicy omelette
- Beef curry with Coconut milk
- Gaeng Ped Gai Heb Fang: chicken and mushroom curry
- Chicken Satay
- Fried Wonton
- Tom Kha Gai: Chicken coconut milk soup