From her thick, green mountaintops in the north, all the way past her flatlands, through her river basins and glittering skyscrapers, Thailand has it all.
And if you thought her landscape is stunning, you should taste the food.
There’s a zing to Thai food that keeps me coming back; at first I thought it was the sour notes, formed from hefty squirts of lime juice. I do adore a good burst of lime…But over the years I’ve realized Thai food is far more complex than that. There’s a dance going on in every bite, especially in the salads, like som tam (green papaya salad [Recipe])… sure, there’s bright bursts of lime juice, but there’s also the smack of salty fish sauce, the brutal burn of Bird’s Eye Chili peppers, something sweet (usually palm sugar) and there, somewhere in the background, a hint of bitterness.
In preparation for this week’s Global Table, we ate at My Thai Kitchen in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We covered the table with several selections, most notably the beef salad, the green curry (chicken swimming in a smooth coconut infused curry), Thai Iced Tea (holy sweetness!!) [Recipe], and, of course, a huge platter of Pad Thai.
Pad Thai, the owner informed me, is usually made wrong in America. Too sweet. Too much sauce. Instead, Pad Thai should be rather dry, but full of the deep roasted peanut flavor and celebrate whatever meat accompanies the dish.
Speaking of authentic Thai food, I have an extra special tip. If you want some Thai culture to rub off on you, you just might want to enjoy your meal in the company of a Siamese cat. Turns out they originally come from Thailand.
Many of the dishes use a small mountain of aromatics to amp up the flavor, from lemongrass to galangal, and from keffir lime leaves to Thai basil.
Cooking with these ingredients guarantees your home will smell like a fragrant Thai market.
Thank goodness for stovetop travel.
I’m curious – what’s your favorite Thai food? Is it curry? Some sort of noodles? Or perhaps a rice dish?