The Market Experience aims to show the local culture by exploring local markets. Through market tours and workshops in the market they hope we will get a deeper insight into market life, local culture and of course the people who work and shop in the markets.
When you think of eating curry do you usually associate it with rice? In fact in Thai cuisine it is very common to eat curries with Khanohm Jeen noodles.
Khanohm Jeen or rice noodles has been a staple dish in Thai cuisine for over a century. In fact, it dates back all the way to the Ayuthaya era, as there’s a canal in the province called “Klong Khanohm Jeen.” The locals claim the canal has had that name since the city was still the capital of the Siamese empire, which dates back to the mid-1300s.
Khanohm Jeen goes by different names in different places around the country. For example, they call it “Khanohm Sen” in the north, “Nom Jeen” in the south, and “Khao Poon” in the northeastern region.
Its rich, soft, and slightly gummy texture makes it one of the most popular types of carbohydrates in Thailand, way up there with rice and “Kuay Teaw” or Chinese noodles. The name has been a topic of debate for Thai people over many generations, as the word “khanohm” means snacks or sweets and “jeen” means China or of Chinese descent. However, the dish is neither a snack, nor does it have anything to do with the Chinese in any way. The most probable theory over how the name came about was that the dish was originally invented by the Mon people. The Mon tribe in the north of Thailand has a dish called “khohn ohm jin,” which means kneaded and double-boiled. It’s believed that the name has persisted and transformed into the term Khanohm Jeen that we know today.
Now that we have the brief history of Khanohm Jeen out of the way, here's a quick rundown of the different types of Khanohm Jeen that can be found in Thai markets:
Khanohm Jeen Paeng Mhuk (ขนมจีนแป้งหมัก)
This is the most traditional style of Khanohm Jeen, as it’s speculated that it was a way to preserve rice back in the day. The rice is pounded into starch and then left to ferment for a few days before cooking. This type of Khanohm Jeen has a slightly sour taste due to the fermentation process. Additionally, the sugar in the rice will become slightly caramelized by the heat in the fermenting pot, which will give the noodles a natural nutty flavor.
This type of Khanohm Jeen is much rarer than it used to be, as it takes a lot of time and effort to make. Most manufacturers nowadays are family-run businesses that still use the traditional method to make them.
Khanohm Jeen Paeng Soht (ขนมจีนแป้งสด)
Unlike the fermented style of Khanhom Jeen, this type is made from fresh rice starch, which speeds up the preparation process significantly. This type of Khanhom Jeen is usually eaten with some sort of curry, but the most common type of curry to eat with fresh Khanohm Jeen is green and Naam Ya curry and served with fresh vegetables and herbs. We recommend you try it with Thai basil as that’s the most popular way Thai people enjoy the dish.
The Subtypes of Khanohm Jeen
Now that you understand what the main types of Khanohm Jeen are, let’s go into detail about its subtypes:
1. Tuaa Tong Tang
This type of Khanohm Jeen is shorter and fatter, and it's most commonly found in the northeastern region of Thailand as they are commonly eaten with Som Tum or papaya salad.
2.Hua Gai Ohk
This type of Khanohm Jeen is made into small rolls that resemble a chicken head, which is where its name comes from. It’s most commonly found in the north and eaten as a substitute for sticky rice.
3.Colored Khanohm Jeen
You can often find Khanohm Jeen that has been dyed using natural ingredients. Some of them are listed down below:
Safflower – Orange, saffron-like color
Turmeric – Deep orange
Green Tea leaves – Deep green
Pandanus leaves – Vivid green
Butterfly pea flowers – Purple-blue, or Pink-blue and violet when you add a couple drops of lime juice to it
if you walk around any fresh market in Thailand you will find Khanohn Jeen foe sales in colorful plastic bowls. If you want to explore a market with us or learn how to cook Thai food, get in touch to book one of our classes or market tours!
Thailand is known for many things. There’s its culture, natural beauty, and nightlife scene, which is chaotic yet exciting. One thing that nobody forgets to mention when they talk about Thailand is the food. Thailand is known as one of the food capitals of the world. In the Land of Smiles, you can enjoy many dishes using certain ingredients you can’t find in the West - or anywhere else, for that matter.
The Thai people’s masterful use of aromatics, herbs, and spices gives their cuisine its distinct characteristics and flavor profile that will excite your taste buds. However, many are afraid to try Thai food.
Thai people use chillies and spices liberally when preparing certain dishes, which can make them challenging to eat. Your tolerance for spicy food will be put to the test when you visit Thailand. That said, Thai cuisine is delicious, and the combination of different herbs and unusual flavors will keep you coming back for more.
If you’re looking to enjoy Thai cuisine the way it was meant to be enjoyed, here are our tips on how to deal with the heat certain dishes bring:
Tip 1: Big chilis aren’t as scary as the little ones
If you see a large slice of red chili, you don’t have to be afraid of them, as they aren’t spicy at all. These are called “prik chee fah,” and they are typically used for decorative purposes. They have a slight fruity taste and tang, similar to capsicum. They are not spicy in any capacity. It’s actually the small ones called “prik kee nhoo” that you have to worry about, as those are the real source of heat in Thai cuisine.
Furthermore, if you see them sliced into food, they are usually not spicy unless you chew them. However, if you see cooks throw fresh chilies into a mortar and pound them with a pestle, that’s when you should really be afraid. When chilies are bruised, they release more oil and capsaicin, which is the chemical that gives them the spice.
Tip 2: Rice is your friend
Although there are different types of curries in Thailand, they aren’t treated the same way as they are in the Middle East or in other regions that eat curries. Thai people eat everything with rice. Almost every type of food is meant to be had with rice, as a topping or as an ingredient to be thrown into fried rice.
One of the reasons they do this is because it makes their food more filling. They end up consuming less of other dishes because they’ve already eaten plenty of rice.
Additionally, getting some rice in your mouth will help make the food less hot, allowing you to truly enjoy the flavors of a spicy dish. Rice is starchy in nature, which allows it to absorb the oil in the food, helping to reduce the pain on the tip of your tongue. Keep in mind that you need to make sure that the rice isn’t too hot; otherwise, it will be even worse for you.
As an eating tip, we recommend that you try to get everything in one spoonful—the curry or soup, meat, rice, and all the vegetables. That will give you the best flavor that the dish has to offer.
Tip 3: Don’t drink too much water
We know this goes against what your parents used to tell you when you were a kid, but drinking a glass of cold water after eating a spicy dish doesn’t help. Capsaicin comes with chili oil, which means that water doesn’t dissolve it. Therefore, when you drink water, the chili oil will just sit on top of the water and it will spread all over your mouth. This will intensify the heat, as instead of being focused in one area, the spice will spread throughout your oral cavity.
Instead, what you need to do is get dessert or sweet drinks, as the sugar in these items will help nullify the heat. We recommend that you try drinkable yogurt and coconut milk-based desserts, as those will work better instead of cold water.
Three Spicy Dishes You Must Try:
Now that you know exactly how to deal with the heat, you’re ready to take on some of the best spicy dishes in Thailand! Listed below are three Thai favorites that you should try, even though they pack a considerable amount of heat:
1. Kua Kling
Kua kling is a southern dish that’s made with stir-fried ground meat—mostly pork—mixed with curry paste, herbs, and tons of chilies. There are also many different spices and aromatics that will make your taste buds dance in excitement. Galangal, kaffir lime leaf slices, and mint leaves will work together to create a distinct combination that you won’t find in other dishes. When you add the spiciness, it creates a heavenly combination that you’ve never experienced before. Warning - it can be extremely spicy!!!!
2. Gaeng Som
Gaeng som is sometimes referred to as orange or yellow curry, but it’s actually more of a soup than curry. It’s a sour soup with some shredded fish meat that gives the soup its thickness. Thai cooks use shredded fish meat instead of traditional thickeners such as coconut cream and starch.
The yellow variation of gang som is the spicier one, as that’s the one you will find down south. Gaeng som is a unique soup, and you won’t find anything similar to it anywhere else in the world, so we suggest that you give it a try. If possible, try gaeng som with fried snakehead (pla chon) and fried egg with acacia (cha-om), as that’s our favorite by far.
3. Kuay Tiew Tom Yum
Everybody knows about the iconic tom yum soup, as the spiciness and incredible aroma give the dish a world-class status. Have you ever stopped to think how amazing it would be if someone put noodles in it? Well, wonder no more, as that’s what you can find in Thailand!
You can choose between the vermicelli (sen mi), rice noodles (sen lek), flat noodles (sen yai), and egg noodles (ba mi). The noodles will be mixed into the tom yum soup along with many other ingredients, and we can assure you that you will love it!
If you’re looking to learn more about Thai cuisine, Market Experience is your best option. Get in touch with us todayto see how we can help.
With its flavorful dishes and a wide range of recipes, Thai cuisine is a perfect choice for any dinner party. Regardless of your cooking skills and the time you’re willing to spend on preparing the dishes, you will certainly find the right menu for you. One benefit of preparing Thai cuisine is that many things can be prepared well in advance, and all you need to do is put them together when your party starts. This article will give you some ideas on how to cook the best Thai dishes for your next dinner party!
Thai Finger Foods
Appetizers or finger foods are a must when it comes to evening parties. They allow your guests to enjoy the food while still being able to mingle with other guests at the same time. Thai Chicken Satay Sticks are undoubtedly one of the easiest foods to prepare as well as impress. They can be prepared in the oven or on the grill, making them ideal for both indoor and outdoor parties. Thai Fresh Spring Rolls are another great appetizer that every guest loves. Not only do these fresh rolls look beautiful, but they are also wonderfully delicious as well. They can also be made vegetarian or gluten-free, catering to every guest’s dietary preferences. Miang Khum is also an appetizer option that will deliver a magnificent blend of flavors and textures that your guests won’t be able to get enough of!
When it comes to the main course, nothing beats a good dish of curry or noodles. There are many different variations of curry, such as Green Curry, Massaman Curry, Yellow Curry, and Red Curry. As many curries tend to taste better the next day, you can even cook it up one day before the event. Now, all you have to do when your guests arrive is heat it up and add some fresh toppings such as fresh basil or coriander before serving!
If curry is not your forte, then consider making noodle dishes as your main course. Make sure that you soak the noodles the day before the event, then drain and rinse them with cold water. Cover your noodles and keep them in the refrigerator until they need to be cooked. If you are making Pad Thai, make sure that you prepare the sauce in advance and refrigerate. To be extra organized, prepare all your fresh ingredients and store them in the refrigerator ahead of time. If you are cooking hot enough Pad Thai only takes a few minutes per portion to cook - but do avoid cooking too large a portion at the same time.
A dinner party is not complete without dessert. Mango Sticky Rice is a classic Thai dessert that is also easy to make. Thai Fried Bananas are another amazing choice as they are a perfect answer to sugar cravings. For something simple and delicious, Thai Style Creme Caramel is something that can be made the day before until you are ready to serve. One great thing about all these dessert dishes is that they can be made vegan and gluten-free as well!
Thai Beers, Wine and Cocktails
Of course you also need great drinks to wash down your feast. In addition to standard beverages you might want to add Thai alcohol to your list of drink menu as well. Beyond the well known Chang and Singha, Thailand has an increasing selection of craft beers - Chiang Mai beer and Chalawan are 2 of the most well know examples
If you are more into wine, then see if you can find a bottle of Thai wine. Thailand may not be famous for it's wine but vineyards like Monsoon Valley and Gran Monte are slowly making a name for themselves.
Finally you could release the inner mixologist in you and get creative with Thai flavours to create your own Thai cocktails (see what you can make from lemongrass). An example of this is our Tom Yum Mocktail which we serve during our cooking classes at The Market Experience Cooking school in Bangkok.
If you're looking to learn how to cook Thai food, get in touch to book one of our classes today!
Flowers and Valentine’s Day go together naturally – so, if you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Bangkok besides the usual restaurants and bars, a visit to the Thai capital’s infamous Pak Khlong Talat flower market could be just the ticket.
Set beside Bangkok’s mighty Chaophraya river, and on the edge of the city’s Chinatown, Little India and old-town districts, the area around Pak Khlong Talat has seen much change in recent years, but the flower market itself continues in time-honoured fashion with its 24-hour trading.
This mammoth market sees flowers arrive from farms all over Thailand, to be sold on to both wholesale clients, like florists, hotels and restaurants, and individual customers from Bangkok and beyond. Pak Khlong Talat processes an awful lot of flowers every single day – not to mention the fruits, vegetables, and other produce that is also sold here.
And what could be a more romantic setting for your Valentine’s Day celebrations than getting to the heart of Bangkok’s floral florics at Pak Khlong Talat itself? Hold your restaurant reservation this 14 February – here are our suggestions for celebrating Valentine’s Day in Bangkok’s infamous 24/7 flower market.
Simply shop for flowers
It’s the most traditional romantic gesture going, and 14 February gives you the perfect excuse to revive it. Simply pick up a bouquet of red roses, or perhaps go one step further: you could drape a loved one’s bed in stunning pink rose petals, or create a trail of petals from the door to the dining table for the ultimate introduction to a lovingly cooked Valentine’s Day meal.
Across Bangkok you will find the prices of roses increases hugely for Valentines Day, and while they do go up at Pak Khlong Talat, it still remains the cheapest place to buy flowers for your Valentines (not that we are suggesting you should be cheap).
Go for a date in the market!
In fact, you could even make a Valentine’s date of Pak Khlong Talat, and put flowers at the heart of your celebrations, by taking your loved one on a tour of the flower market – discover the history behind the trading space and the people who work in it, as well as plenty of exotic flowers and other ingredients that you have likely never heard of. Don't forget to buy them flowers along the way.
After exploring the market, take your loved one for dinner at Yodpiman River Walk community mall, right alongside the Chaophraya and just a stone’s throw from Pak Khlong Talat flower market. There you will find a selection of restaurants for an intimate, show-stopping location for dinner.
Cook up a loving storm
Shop for fresh fruit, vegetables, and more from local vendors at Pak Khlong Talat – which sells far more than the flowers it’s famed for – and turn them into a delicious home-cooked meal that’s an expression of true love. You can even incorporate edible flowers from the market into your dinner selection, for an added twist. If you need inspiration to get you going, join us for one of The Market Experience’s unique cooking classes, on the upper floor of the Pak Khlong Talat flower market itself, to get your creative juices going with ideas for the ultimate homemade menu for Valentine’s Day – or even bring your date along for the cooking class and turn it into a date by itself. After all, couples who cook together stay together!
How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day in Bangkok? Have you visited Pak Khlong Talat flower market? Let us know in the comments!
Cooking is an enjoyable hobby and a fantastic way to expand your palate. The various cuisines all around the world are so diverse and certainly worth a try whenever you can. It would be a shame if you only got a chance to taste your local food and not much else.
One cuisine that has earned worldwide recognition is Thai cuisine. If you live in an area without any Thai restaurants, don’t worry. You can experience Thai food by cooking it by yourself at home!
The majority of Thai dishes are quite healthy. When you get a taste of the spices and the vegetables, you will not be able to put your fork down! Once you get the hang of cooking Thai food, whipping up curries and stir-fries for your family will be a piece of cake.
Here are a few tips you may want to take note of before you go on your cooking adventure:
Get to know the Thai herbs and spices
The best way to start your Thai food cooking adventure is to familiarise yourself with the common herbs and spices that are used in the dishes. If you are only familiar with Western cuisine, this is a tip that you simply cannot skip. There are quite a number of ingredients that you may have never used before. In fact, there are almost certainly a few that you have never ever heard of.
The herbs common in Thai food include lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, coriander root, and much more. You may not have seen these ingredients at your local supermarket. We recommend you to visit an Asian market instead. Each herb gives off a unique smell and flavor, adding some complexity to your food.
Lemongrass stalks provide a citrus flavor and a fresh scent. It can be eaten when chopped into small pieces. When it is used in soup, however, it is usually removed before being served. Kaffir lime leaves are usually not eaten.
However, they add an amazing flavor and smell to the dish. Galangal offers a tiny kick of spice but nothing too hot. Thai dishes are famous for their spiciness. This mostly comes from the handful of birds eye chillis that they put in practically every dish. If you can’t handle the heat, ease up on the chili and other hot spices.
Learn how to balance complex flavors
Thai food is full of complex flavors. In a single bite, saltiness, sweetness, sourness, and spiciness will all pass your tongue at the same time. It’s unbelievable! Finding a dish with a single flavor is quite rare in Thailand. That being said, you need to know how to balance these flavors to create an umami taste. The tip here is tasting the food as you cook. Find the right balance by adding fish sauce, salt, lime, sugar, or soy sauce until you get the flavor you desire. Keep in mind that not all Thai dishes have the same flavor. Some recipes are particularly sour, while others don’t contain a hint of sourness.
Understand how Thai people eat and cook
Although you may want to cook fusion food, it is recommended that you start by learning how Thai natives eat and cook if you want to develop a proper understanding of the cuisine. In Thai households, cooking and eating are usually family events.
Every member plays a part and shares in the meal. There are usually many dishes prepared for a single meal, depending on the size of your family. When you cook, make sure that you control the level of spice so that everyone can enjoy the dishes.
If you’re looking to learn more about Thai cooking, The Market Experience is your best option. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our Thai Cooking Classes
There is something to be said about the food in the Land of Smiles. It’s rich in nutrition, flavorful in taste, and fills the stomach.
Since Thailand is known for its fresh ingredients and a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes, learning how to cook a meal from this cuisine is something truly rewarding.
If you’re a tourist wanting to explore the country’s cuisine, it’s best to take a food tour or a cooking class. But if you’re a local having tried almost all Thai food, it may be about time to spruce up your cooking prowess.
Fortunately, Thailand has an abundance of cooking schools, especially in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. You can absolutely find a teacher or a school offering cooking classes just about anywhere in Thailand.
The challenge, however, is finding a cooking school that suits your culinary skills and what you want to learn. The good news is that we’re here to help to find the most appropriate cooking school for you. Here are some things to look for when selecting a cooking school to enrol in:
One important thing to consider when choosing a cooking school is the flexibility of classes.
In this time and age, the majority of people have tight schedules and rigid routines to follow each day. Maybe you have a daily household endeavor to maintain, a busy full-time job to keep up with, or weekly leisure activities that you enjoy with your friends. It can be rather challenging to find a cooking class that can fit in your schedule.
The flexibility of classes will, therefore, allow you to have ample time to hone your cooking skills. Of course, you don’t want your money wasted simply because you can’t attend your class on a regular basis.
Easy booking process
Another thing to look for when you’re in search of a cooking school is an online booking feature and a strong online presence.
This will save you the hassle of dropping by the school just to reserve a seat in the next class and make a payment. If you decide to enroll in a short course or staggered classes, then an easy online booking process is sure to make your life easier.
Aside from that, cooking classes with an online teaching presence will allow you to learn on your own theoretically while you apply the skills during actual classes. Many reputable schools have websites with recipes and instructions on how to cook certain dishes; these tools will surely help you enhance your cooking skills.
Most importantly, you have to strongly consider whether the menus for the cooking classes cover what you want to learn. Some schools offer extensive menus where you can cook up to six dishes (or more) and choose which of those dishes you cook. Other schools have fixed menus but focus much more on the theory and teaching, rather than rushing through as many dishes as possible. Being exposed to these different types of dishes - from soups to curries to stir-frys - will definitely take your culinary expertise up to the next level. However, teaching in a way that allows you to adapt to quickly pick up other dishes is important.
Cooking class sizes can vary significant from almost purely private classes of 1 or 2 people to large groups of 15 or more! The reality is the smaller the class the more attention you will get, but this usually makes the class more expensive.
Ultimately, how well you learn comes down to the instructors. Instructors should not only have good experience in cooking Thai food, but also understand dietary requirements and the challenges of finding ingredients overseas. Instructors with international experience are more likely to understand such challenges.
Now that we’ve listed the things to consider when selecting cooking classes, it’s about time to choose a school, book online, attend flexible classes, and cook the dishes you want to learn. Just watch out - your house is about to become the newest socialization spot as your friends won’t be able to stop coming over for some delicious Thai food!
Don't forget to check out our own class selection ranging from 4 hour morning classes to a quick and easy 1 hour afternoon class. Our classes have a maximum 8 people and are taught by Thai instructors who have worked as chefs overseas. Book online
The staples of Thai cuisine – chillies, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, fish sauce, coconut milk – are well known to foodies around the world. But Bangkok’s plethora of sensory-overload-inducing fresh markets hold a wealth of secrets for those willing to put in the work hunting down hard-to-find unique local ingredients. These are the Thai ingredients to seek out at your local fresh market in order to take your Thai cooking prowess to the next level.
Okra probably isn’t a vegetable that you associate with Thai cooking – it’s more well known for its prominence in middle-eastern cuisine – but you might be surprised to find that it’s easily found at local Thai fresh markets in Bangkok and elsewhere around Thailand.
Okra shares distant relations with the hibiscus plant family, perhaps most famous in foodie circles for producing the roselle flowers used in tea and iced infusions – so it’s not altogether surprising, albeit it is fairly confusing, that the two share a name in Thai: dok grajiab for hibiscus or roselle flower, and pak grajiab for (literally) hibiscus vegetable or okra.
Middle-eastern cooking aside, okra is a great vegetable to use in a healthy adaptation of your favourite everyday Thai stir-fry. It also works well in green or red curry, or a curry-paste-based stir-fry served over rice, as well as in a gaeng-liang-style, vegetable-forward Thai soup.
This one is something of a clever foodie hack, and the not-so-well-guarded secret of chef Alyssa Han at The Market Experience’s cooking school in the heart of Pak Khlong Talat wholesale flower market in Bangkok. One ingredient you’ve almost certainly not yet noticed hiding in plain sight, during your walks through Bangkok’s numerous spectacular fresh markets, is limestone powder. And even if you have noticed it, all but the most knowledgeable of Thai foodies would likely have next to no clue as to when or how to use it.
As Alyssa explains during her Thai Cooking With A Twist workshops, a little limestone water added to a tempura batter mixture helps to radically reduce its temperature – doing away with the usual need for tempura batter to be chilled in the fridge before use, and ensuring that the tempura perfectly crisps up into crunchy heaven the second it hits the hot oil in the wok or frying pan.
Although not commonly called for in mainstream English-language Thai recipes – and almost certainly a challenge to find overseas – limestone water is a life-changing ingredient to have on hand when making dishes like Alyssa’s flower tempura that brings to life the best of Pak Khlong Talat flower market’s edible offerings.
You might have to hunt for it a little bit, but at most local Thai markets you’ll find small bags of reddish-pink limestone powder (known in Thai as boon sai) for sale at general grocery shops and stalls – the kind usually touting numerous varieties of rice, eggs, bottled condiments, and perhaps a selection of herbs and vegetables – for as little as 10 baht. To use it, combine a teaspoon of the powder with a litre of water, allow the sediment to settle, and then spoon it off to substitute half of the amount of regular or soda water called for in your tempura recipe.
Congealed pig or chicken blood makes a prominent appearance in the most authentic and delicious versions of chicken green curry, where small cubes of it float in the curry’s soupy base alongside the main meat component, vegetables like baby and pea aubergines, and herbaceous horapa sweet basil leaves.
At your local market, you’ll usually find it for sale at the stalls selling fresh whole chickens and various chicken joints, fillets and innards. The congealed blood comes in a round block, referred to in Thai as a wheel, likely around 12cm in diameter and around 3cm in thickness. One wheel is almost certainly far more than you’ll need for a big serving of green curry or whichever other dish you’re making, but it’s often the smallest quantity blood is available in, and in any case it usually goes for as little as 7 baht a piece.
Fresh markets in Bangkok and elsewhere around Thailand are a fairytale-like heaven for cooks keen on the dizzying array of pungently scented herbs. Those with a passing knowledge of Thai cuisine might already be familiar with the likes of krapao (holy basil, famed for its namesake stir-fry pad krapao), horapa (sweet basil, which makes an appearance in green curry among other dishes), and bai makrut (kaffir lime leaves, prominent in plenty of dishes including penang curry) – but there’s plenty more to discover beyond those most common specimens.
Make a beeline for the likes of cumin leaves (bai yila, also known as krapao khwai or buffalo basil, and a key ingredient in jungle curry and other dishes), lemon basil (bai maenglak, also known as hairy basil and which features in gaeng liang soup as well as accompanying kanom jeen rice noodles), Asian pennywort (bai bua bok, used as an iced infusion and in an eponymous salad), and Chinese chives (gui chai, which make an appearance in steamed chive dumplings and more evidently in pad thai).
Of course, Thai fresh markets are also a breeding ground for crazily verdant selections of all manner of other ingredients that are central to the country’s cuisine: expect especially countless options when it comes to selecting chillies, coriander, mushrooms, onions, shallots, garlic and ginger variants (ginger itself, known as khing, plus galangal or kha, and wild ginger or krachai). And then there’s also the usual suspects of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, mint, pandan leaves, and much more besides.
With The Market Experience’s cooking studio based right smack bang in the middle of the trading action at Bangkok’s famous Pak Khlong Talat 24-hour wholesale flower market, it goes without saying that we’re a bit potty when it comes to anything and everything floral. And we’re here to tell you that, when it comes to flowers in Thailand, you need to let yourself imagine their uses beyond just brightening and freshening up your home or hotel room.
That’s precisely the reason flowers make regular and relatively high-profile appearances at fresh food markets around Bangkok and all over Thailand – because, apart from just looking beautiful, many Thai flowers play a central role in a range of Thai dishes that are much loved here but far less well known abroad.
Almost all coming in both fresh and dried form – but with various different levels of difficulty associated in tracking them down, depending on the market you’re at – Thai flowers well worth hunting out include dok anchun butterfly pea flowers, dok grajiab roselle flowers, dok sanow sesbania flowers, dok khae hummingbird flowers, and dok krachon cowslip creeper flowers. The first two are predominantly used in iced tea infusions, while the latter three often make their way into stir-fries and omelettes among other savoury dishes.
These and plenty of other edible Thai flowers also make great accompaniments to pad thai and other renowned dishes, or can add a splash of colour to the kind of floral tempura we like to cook up at The Market Experience.
What are your favourite finds at Thai fresh markets? Let us know in the comments!
Okra photo by shankar s.; vegetable and herb market stall photo via Pixabay; all other photos by Chris Wotton
What’s there not to love about Thai food? The combination of spices and herbs, the flavorful ingredients, and the variety of dishes all work together to make quite the mouth-watering dining experience.
You may think that this is an exaggeration, but it isn’t. You’ll realize this when you savor the taste of Thai food. Chances are that you’ll be left drooling over the likes of Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, Massaman Curry, and Som Tum.
Given the complexity of Thai cooking, it’s easy for those cooking to fail to include the right ingredients or forget an essential step. If you are a customer at a Thai restaurant, you don’t want to be shortchanged and leave the restaurant unsatisfied. If you are a cook and love making food, what better way to prepare dishes than to ensure that you’ve put your all into it?
Although the soul certainly makes a difference in cooking, there are some Thai food no-no’s that you should be wary of. Here are five:
Too Much Chilli
Alright, alright, we all know that Thai food is known for being hot and spicy. The chili augments the flavor, enticing you to eat more despite the tears in your eyes. But what if you’ve put too much chili in a dish? Doing so will not only numb your taste buds but also drown out all the other flavors and aromas that you should be enjoying. Excessive chili only defeats its purpose. As they say, do not ‘over-egg the pudding.’
The second most common Thai cooking mistake is using the wrong rice. Steamed rice is usually served along with side dishes. If you use substandard rice or purchase the wrong grain, however, the quality of the entire meal will be affected. It’s best to purchase Jasmine rice when eating traditional Thai food. Jasmine rice has a lovely aroma and is soft, light, and fluffy when properly cooked. You won’t need to add any butter or salt for a delicious flavor! If you can’t afford Jasmine rice, there’s nothing wrong with selecting another one. However, try to select a similar alternative that won’t compromise the cuisine.
No Ingredient Hierarchy
Most Thai dishes involve a variety of ingredients such as spices, leaves, and roots combined with fruits and vegetables. Each has a specific flavor and requires a certain amount of time to cook. Therefore, there should be a hierarchy when it comes to mixing in ingredients for a dish. It’s not like you can mix them in all at once, waiting until everything is cooked. The trick to perfection is to ensure that you mix in the right ingredients in the right order.
We know that overcooking is a big no-no. This is one big mistake made by cooks all across the globe. It’s easy to leave your food on the stove just a few minutes longer than necessary. Overcooking is a cooking mistake that every Thai cook should be wary of. In fact, it is said to be one primary cause of Thai food disaster. This is because the majority of Thai food is very lightly cooked. Overcooking could cause the ingredients to lose their flavor or texture, compromising the taste of the final dish.
Finally, using the wrong ingredients for a dish you’re preparing is a mistake that all of us has made at one time or another. We know how strong the flavors of Thai ingredients are. Mixing them all together using the wrong ingredients can result in an unappetizing dish. Holy basil, for example, is very different than sweet basil. They may be both basils, but since they have incredibly different flavors, using the wrong one will completely alter the taste of the final dish.
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If you are interested in learning how to cook Thai cuisine, it is also important that you learn about the most important tools used to create Thai food as well as how to use them. Traditional Thai foods will use a different method in comparison to Western cooking techniques.
Thai food mainly consists of rice, some sort of meat, and vegetable. Fish, soups, noodles, and curry are also commonly consumed in Thailand. The entirety of Thai cuisines will involve the use of specific utensils and items in order to create these delicious foods. Thai meals will usually be eaten family style where everyone sits around multiple entrees and side dishes with their own soup bowls and serving of Thai Jasmine rice or white sticky rice.
Preparation of food
Thais traditionally will utilize their many open-air farmer's markets or fresh markets in order to buy fresh ingredients for the day. They will hardly use their refrigerators, and will sometimes use covers or cupboards to keep their food away from insects, since the smell of Thai food, especially those with fish sauce, will bring flies galore. Thai food will mostly use a rice cooker and a wok.
Cooking tools for Thai food
Thai food and techniques for cooking the food are derived from China and were brought to Thailand during their migration. Thais traditionally would cook in an open or outdoor kitchen. In a traditional Thai kitchen, you might find a stove, usually gas or charcoal, but sometimes they are built of clay or metal. On top of the burner, you might find a pot or steamer.
Thais will make good use of tongs when cooking many dishes. They will be used to handle charcoal as well. You might see a fan which will be used to get the fire started on the stove by fanning the coals. A bamboo tube would function as a fan to keep the charcoal glowing by blowing air through the tube into the fire. It is very common for Thai people to use a grill placed on top of the stove in order to cook fish or meat.
Skewers are common utensils used for grilling in a kebob-style method. You might see skewers of meat or vegetables on these sharp skewers. Rice pot or cookers are a must-have. In more traditional kitchens, these might be made of clay with a lid and no handles.
A coconut shell spoon is a simple wooden ladel that comes in many sizes and is made of coconut shells. Curry pots in Thai cooking is a clay pot with large handles the curl up to the level of the lid, making it easier to carry while hot. These pots can be used to make a variety of Thai curries that are delicious, spicy, and enjoyable.
A steamer is quite important in a Thai kitchen. These will also be made of clay and if not, it can also be made of aluminum. It should fit perfectly on top of a charcoal burner and is used to steam vegetables as well as sticky rice.
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Thai cuisine is known for its use of fresh herbs and spices to make unique flavors and tastes that can’t be found in any other type of food around the world. This is the main reason why Thai food is widely acknowledged to be one of the best cuisines in the world. In this article, you’ll be going on a journey to see a few of the most common types of herbs and spices used in Thai cooking so that you can better understand the fundamental elements of the cuisine. With that said, let’s get to it!
Basil (horapha, ka prao)
The basil family is one of the most common herbs in Thai cooking, as it’s put in almost every dish. You will find some sort of basil in all sorts of food, including soups, curries, and even stir-fries. Horapha and ka prao are the most common types of basils, as some dishes are designed crafted around the aromas and flavors of these herbs. For example, the famous pad ka prao is minced meat stir-fried with chilies, garlic, and topped with ka prao. Horapha, on the other hand, is mostly eaten fresh or used as a topping for green curry.
Cinnamon (ob choei)
While cinnamon isn’t very commonly found in stir-fries and desserts, it’s an essential part of many Thai soups. Most dark soups you will see in Thailand have cinnamon as their main ingredient. If you’re looking to replicate an authentic soup dish such as kang pa loh or boat noodles soup, be sure to add a hint of cinnamon in the soup base.
Thai Chilli (prik khi nu)
Thai chili, known to locals as prik khi nu, is a spicy pepper with a distinct greenish flavor. It’s one of the most common ingredients in Thai cuisines. You will be able to spot them being used in just about every dish, whether it’s a soup, stir-fry, or even a sauce.
Chilli (Prik chi fa)
Prik chi fa is a type of chili that’s not very spicy, so it’s typically used for garnish and to add a little bit of flavor. If you see long slices of red chili on top of your curry, it’s most likely prik chi fa, and it’s typically not spicy at all.
Another common spice in Thai cooking is cloves. Cloves are most often seen in southern Thai dishes as they inherited much of the culinary heritage from Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. That being said, cloves are used in some soups and curries as well, so don’t be surprised if you find a couple of them floating in your massaman.
Coriander root (rak phak chee)
Unlike in western cooking, Thai people use the root of coriander as a base for soup and meat marinade. The aromatic flavors and a hint of bitterness make coriander roots an amazing addition to any deep-fried dish, as the flavorful oil will help bring out the natural taste of any protein you add.
Cumin is generously used in many curries around Thailand. It’s typically ground and mixed in with curry paste before being fried in hot oil and diluted with coconut cream.
Galangal is related to ginger and ginseng and is the base of a famous white soup -- tom kha gai. It’s typically ground and boiled before it is made into curry paste.
If you look at any Thai food dish, chances are there’s some garlic in it. Thai people love garlic, which explains why there’s so much of it in their cuisine. It’s used in soups, curries, fried foods, and even in some sweets!
Ginger is usually grated and mixed with curry paste or sliced into thin strips to use as toppings for Chinese congee. In the northeast, fresh young ginger slices are usually served with a type of herbal sausage called “sai krok ee san.” It’s also used to marinate grilled and fried chicken.
Lastly, krachai is another common ingredient in Thai cooking. There’s no English name for this ginger-like plant. You can find krachai in most fish curries and it’s also commonly served raw along with other vegetables as a side dish.
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