If I was financially able to, I would be travelling 10 months of the year visiting foreign countries and discovering things beyond the usual tourist hot spots. I would integrate myself into a countrie’s culture by staying for a long period of time… a couple of months at least. I would also visit areas that are not specifically tagged as “touristy”, try to speak some of their language, discover their traditions and of course, taste and learn how to cook their food.
I have my top 10 countries on my dream destination list and one of them is Thailand! This country is so fascinating I could easily spend 6 months visiting and I would barely scratch the surface of its culture. For generations, the day to day traditions have been well integrated and preserved and this also applies to their food. Thai cuisine uses aromatic ingredients along with spices and herbs. The complex philosophy behind Thai cuisine and its preparation is to use a minimum of 3 fundamental taste senses which are; sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter. Besides rice and noodles, another popular staple in Thai food is curry paste which differs greatly from one region to another.
I’ve been working on different Thai recipes for a while as well as on my curry pastes – I have a few. This one has some interesting flavors to it. It is hot & spicy but yet, it doesn’t overpower the taste of a dish. Although I could’ve gone off the wall with unfamiliar ingredients, I’ve decided to stick to a more Westernized version of it so people can make it more easily at home.
If you are unfamiliar with Thai cuisine, I highly suggest you give it a try! Open your phone book (do we still have phone books???) or log on the internet and look for a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood. Try different dishes – some might be slightly on the spicy side – and you might be surprised just how delicious, tasty and colorful it can be. You’ll understand why Thai cuisine is so popular worldwide!
For those of you who know Thai food and want to experiment with new dishes at home, here’s a good food staple to have around. I realize that Birds Eye chilies are not for everyone. If these little guys are too spicy for you, substitute red pepper flakes at your discretion. That way, you’ll still have that “zip” in your recipe without having things too hot! I never had any curry paste leftovers but I would presume you can store the curry paste either in the refrigerator for a couple weeks or in the freezer for a couple months.
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1/4 tbsp. lemongrass, finely chopped
- 1/4 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
- 1 small whole birds eye (Thai chili), chopped *SEE FOOTNOTE
- 1 dried kaffir lime leaf, chopped
- 2 tsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar (substitute palm sugar)
- 1 tsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
FOOTNOTE: It is wise to wear disposable gloves when handling and chopping hot peppers.