When most people think of Thai food, they usually think of the overly sweet Americanized pad thai, which is arguably the most famous Thai import to the US. However, Thai food is so much more than that. It is flavorsome and complex and is characterized by intensely pungent umami flavors impregnated by fiery spiciness and freshness. If you wish to start cooking Thai at home, here are some ingredients that you must definitely have in your pantry:
1. Fish sauce
Used in lieu of salt, and known as nampla in Thai, fish sauce is a salty, pungent brine that is made by fermenting fish in salt. Some even go as far as to call it “the backbone of Thai cooking.” The best way to buy fish sauce is to check the ingredients. Authentic fish sauce usually contains only anchovies, salt and water.
2. Curry paste
There are a couple of options that you can pick from here. You can either buy curry paste from grocery stores or your local Asian market. You will find many good brands. However, if you want a great tasting curry, you should totally make your own paste. Lemongrass, galangal, coriander root and red chilies are only some of the intensely flavorsome ingredients that go into this paste.
3. Coconut milk
No Thai curry is complete without coconut milk. You can make your own coconut milk by getting the oils out of coconut flesh with the help of warm water. However, if you want to take the easy way out, you can shop for canned coconut milk from an Asian grocery store or the Asian section of your local supermarket.
4. Bird’s eye chili
If there is one thing that everyone knows about Thai food, it is that it can be really spicy. And all that spiciness comes from the generous use of bird’s eye chili in the food. If you cannot find them in the market, substitute them with some serrano or fresno chilies.
5. Sticky rice
Sticky rice is one of the staples of Thai food. It is soaked overnight in water and then steamed to achieve the soft and sticky consistency. It is perfect for mixing in with all kinds of Thai curries and sauces.
You can also enjoy delicious Thai food without having to sweat it out in the kitchen. All you have to do is visit our restaurant or order some take-out. Also, if you are looking for some delectable sea food in Madison, we have that too.