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basic Thai cooking techniques

ไตปลาทรงเครื่อง ; Spicy Salad of Grilled Tiger Prawns, Mackerel, Lemongrass and Aromatics with Infused Fermented Fish Innards Dressing
basic Thai cooking techniques

Spicy Salad of Grilled Tiger Prawns, Mackerel, Lemongrass and Aromatics with Infused Fermented Fish Innards Dressing (ไตปลาทรงเครื่อง ; dtai bpla sohng khreuuang)

If we could strip away the spices, the seasonings, the vegetables and the herbs from savory dishes we could uncover their naked flavor profile core. There, we would encounter a strong savory-umami, sometimes coupled with other basic elements of smoke and fat. This flavor core is, for us humans, the sought-after taste of protein; our first sip of mother’s milk, and the primal experience of burned game meat on the fire.

Today we would like to highlight a powerhouse for umami creation: the fermentation process. We will focus on fermented fish innards from southern Thailand (dtai bpla ไตปลา), one of about a dozen fermented products used in the country. We will show you how chefs for the capital’s elite, as early as or, before the reign of King Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai (Rama II, 1767-1824), harnessed its wild nature and created a dish similar to what we present today – a salad with infused fermented fish innards dressing.

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basic Thai cooking techniques

Grilled Catfish, The Issan Way
(bplaa dook yaang ; ปลาดุกย่าง)

Catfish are not too fussy about the waters in which they swim. They can even flourish in stagnant waters and flooded rice fields. Farmed widely, Catfish is an inexpensive, accessible, nutritional and delicious food source.

Grilled catfish is a delicacy, the yellowish mildly fatty flesh goes well with sticky rice and chili-limejuice-fish-sauce sauce, or sweet fish-sauce dip and fresh vegetables.

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Golden Beans or Dehusked Mung Bean
basic Thai cooking techniques

Golden Beans or Dehusked Green Beans
(ถั่วทอง – ถั่วเขียวปอกเปลือก ; thuaa thaawng – thuaa khiaao bpaawk bpleuuak)

Mung beans, or green beans as they are known in Thailand, are ovoid in shape, and green in color.

They are generally eaten either whole (with or without skins), as bean sprouts, or used in cooking – mostly in Thai desserts. Mung beans are green with the husk and called in Thai thuaa khiaao (ถั่วเขียว), when dehusked they are light yellow in color and referred in Thai as Golden Beans (thuaa thaawng ; ถั่วทอง)

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Fermented Thai Pork Sausage Recipe
basic Thai cooking techniques

Making Fermented Thai Pork Sausage (แหนมหมู ; naem moo)

Naem is a fermented sausage made with pork, pork skins, cooked sticky rice (glutinous), fresh garlic, salt, sugar and bird’s eye chilies. The sausage is wrapped in banana leaves or synthetic casings, and fermented for 3-5 days at about 30 degrees (C) and 50% humidity. The fermentation process enables the growth of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, mostly lactobacilli, which accounts for the sourness of the sausage. The salt acts as an inhibitor – preventing the meat from going rotten, allowing the lactic acid bacteria and yeasts to feed on the rice and sugar, and fermenting the meat to perfection.

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