Britain’s number one dish?
A Chinese may have overtaken an Indian as the nation’s favourite food, but Thai cuisine is moving up the ranks rapidly. Thai food came fifth after British and Italian in third and fourth respectively. What’s more interesting, is our love for home cooking is growing too.
A decade ago, if we wanted a Thai meal we would have gone to a restaurant, but now a third of us are more likely to cook one up ourselves in our own kitchens.
Thai food is famed for its aromatic and subtle flavours and is often viewed as more understated than other Asian foods. It combines the five fundamental flavours in all of its dishes: spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter.
Thai cuisine has many regional variations which are influenced by its neighbours namely Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Climate and geography also have a role to play. The food used is grown locally so varies depending on what can be grown. Southern Thai curries usually contain coconut milk and fresh turmeric for example, while north eastern dishes usually include lime juice.
Chinese cuisine has infiltrated the Thai menu quite seamlessly. The biggest influence however, was in actual cooking techniques because the Chinese brought the wok to Thailand and introduced deep-frying, stir-frying and noodle and soy products to the Thai people.
However, in general, Thai food is healthier than what we think of as Chinese food. Much of the food is steamed and the herbs, fruit and vegetables are fresh. There are common ingredients despite the regional variations though and examples include kaffir lime leaves and nam pla, a strong fish sauce.
The main difference between northern and southern Thai cuisine is the use of fish. In the coastal regions of the south, fish is the most common protein used in curries, whereas in the north, pork and chicken are more common.
Thanks to the warm tropical climate, exotic fruits grow everywhere from a dusty, dirty road side to a back garden, this means fresh fruit is commonly served as a dessert. Coconut, pineapple, papaya and mango are the most common and are sometimes served with sweet Thai rice similar to rice pudding but cooked in coconut milk.
If you are looking to experience Thai cuisine in its native setting then take a look at the DialAFlight website; they offer flights to Thailand from £325 (including taxes).