Herbs and spices are almost synonymous with Thai food. The more the herbs, the more spicy the food. This use varies from region to region. Traditionally, parts of many plants are herbs and spices in Thai cookery. While it may be an almost impossible task to characterize one particular herb and spice as of a particular region, the ubiquity of these herbs and spices in Thai culinary arts is obvious.
The most common herbs and spices in Thai cooking are cardamom, chilli, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cummin, galanga, garlic, ginger, kaffir lime, krachai, lemongrass, mint, and shallot. Another ingredient almost indispensable for Thai cooking is coconut. It is an essential addition to several dishes, including desserts and sweets.
Any Thai menu would be incomplete without an assortment of sauces. The three flavours most commonly found in Thai sauces are salty, sweet, and sour. Fish sauce or Nam Pla is the most common, and it is the ultimate ingredient in a multitude of Thai delights.
It is both an art and science to concoct a proper combination of all these herbs and spices. Furthermore, perfect mouth-watering tastes are attained with the “secret” knowledge of cooking that is passed down from generation to generation.
Taken from: Thailand: Traits and Treasures. The National Identity Board, Royal Thai Government 2005.
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