Get Yourself Prepared
Seven Key Tips on preparation for cooking a great Thai meal
The first thing to get organised is an ingredients list, that’s why its the first thing in any recipe, it’s merely a plan to follow. Not necessarily to blindly follow the recipe, as we like to allow a little room for personal taste and imaginative flare. In for all our Thai Cooking Classes we recommend…
I. Print the recipe before you start. Make sure you have the complete list of ingredients, preferably on paper so you can check them off as you prepare each one. If you’ve ever been to Thailand and seen the boat or street food sellers, they have all the ingredients to hand and fully prepared, it’s never done on the fly as they cook, they simply don’t have the time as Thai cooking is frequently fast and furious Mind you, they don’t actually do the “on paper check-list” thing, because they mostly specialise in one dish and cook the same thing over and over again all day long.
2. All our recipes do this next bit for you but to gain a greater understanding…
Whilst preparing the ingredients, think about the texture you want to achieve in the finished meal. Consider also how long it will take for the flavour of that ingredient to infuse into the cooking. As a general rule of thumb the smaller you cut the pieces the more flavour and aroma it will impart during the cooking, plus the texture is altered.
3. Consider the ingredients’ strongest quality, is it aromatic, pungent, bland, sweet or tart. Again as a rule of thumb aromatics need longer cooking to impart their flavour and aroma, so they go in the wok earlier.
4. Before you turn on the heat, double check you have not missed anything as once you start the cooking you probably won’t have time to make it up at the last minute because timing is everything.
5. Although we give you timings in the recipes, they are not an exact science and will vary depending on your cooking utensils, size of ingredients, your cooker and believe it or not…. your altitude! So the lesson here is learn to cook by texture, consistency, feel, colour and taste; we provide key pointers in our videos signalling the next step, which are a much better guide than the timings.
6. Be prepared for practice, only with practice comes a greater understanding of the ingredients. As Khwanjai says, “To cook great Thai food, first you have to understand the ingredients”.
7. Measure sauces used in the cooking as stated in the recipes until you get a better feel for how they interact, this comes with time. Real Thai chefs never measure anything, they just know from experience, you can get there too, it just takes practice plus this one great tip……. Taste the sauces neat occasionally and especially if you switch brands, (they are not all the same) that will take you a long way towards understanding them.