Appon's Thai Food Recipes

Sub Categories: Meats, Fish & Eggs Sauces & Pastes Thai Rice & Pulses Thai Vegetables

Ingredients - Thai Recipes

Straw Mushrooms ( Hed Fang )

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Straw mushrooms are a common ingredient of Thai cuisine, often used in Tom-Yum spicy soup and in other dishes. Where you would use white-cap mushrooms, Thai's normally use Straw or Shitake mushrooms. Best bought fresh, also available canned, I don't recommend the dried mushrooms, straw mushrooms lose a lot of flavour when they are dried.

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Big Red Thai Chillis (Prik Chi Far)

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Chillis are the core of most Thai food. Like a lot of hot countries, Thailand spices its food, both to preserve it and to 'cover' any unwanted flavours. You see the same pattern in Mexican cooking, Indian curries and other countries on the equator where it's hot.
The larger red chillis are not as strong as the smaller green 'bird' chillis, but they are still mighty powerful.
Be careful when handling chillis, do not touch your eyes or nose afterwards, be sure to clean your hands thoroughly.

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Green 'Bird' Chilli (Prik Kie Nu)

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Bird chillies are usually green and approximately 2-3cms long. They are the spiciest chilli available, far stronger than jalapeno peppers. In contrast red chillies are usually twice the size and slightly milder.

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Fried Garlic (Gatiam Jiel)

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This is a common condiment used to add a garlic flavour and crunchy texture to dishes. You can see it used in noodle dishes, poured over the top of dim-sum to enhance the taste and also added to soups. It is very easy to make and can be kept for up to a year without special storage. If you are serious about Thai cooking, make a batch and store it in an air tight jar, as it is needed for many other dishes.

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Lemon Grass (Dta Kai)

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Lemon grass is used to add a citrus flavour to Thai dishes. It is especially useful for soups, whereas lemon juice would lose its fragrance during cooking, the lemon grass flavour strengthens as it cooks. It is available from Asian grocers either in fresh form, or in dried form. Get the fresh form if you can.

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Preserved Turnip ( Hua-chi Po Wan )

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You can see a typical brand of preserve turnip at the bottom right of the photograph (not full size!), it is sold in clear packets and is widely available in Asian supermarkets, so it's easy to spot. The taste is slightly sweet, slightly tangy.

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Tapioca Pearls ( Sa Ku )

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Tapioca pearls are starchy balls made from processed cassava starch. When cooked they form a chewy textured ball, you may be familiar with tapioca pudding, but we use them differently in Thailand for desserts and snacks and in some drinks.

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Star Anise ( Dok Jun )

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Star anise has, not suprisingly an aniseed taste and is used to flavour not just sweets, but also soups in Thai cuising. Store in an airtight containers and it will last for a year.

Green Pepper ( Mad Prick Thai On )

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Pepper is common ingredient everywhere, this is the fresh green peppercorns used extensively in Thai cuisine to add spice to fried dishes, soups and sauces.

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Palm Sugar Cakes ( Nam Tan Buk )

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Palm sugar is impure sugar made from sugar palm. It is easiest to buy and store as sugar cakes (as in the photograph). When you need some sugar simply tap the cake with a Thai Wooden Pestle to break off pieces.

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Cinnamon Sticks ( Opt Chey )

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Thailand doesn't use cinnamon as much for desserts, as it is used for soups and savoury dishes to add a non-hot but still spicy flavour. A typical dish is Cinnamon Soup with Eggs or Cinnamon Pork Chops.
Cinnamon is the inner bark of a tree cut into small sections that curl up to form sticks like the ones in the photograph.

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Grass Jelly ( Choa Guay )

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A gelatin like substance made from a herb that comes in packets and more commonly in tins like the brand in the photograph. It is vegetarian (unlike gelatin), and does not dissolve if you put it into hot liquids. We eat it in hot and cold desserts.

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Food Grade Limestone ( Poon Khao & Poon Dang )

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Limestone, also known as calcium carbonate, CaCO3, and in one form, it is blackboard chalk!
In Thailand it's sold as a powder dissolved in water and is used to crisp-up vegetables, squid and in batters for frying to make the batter crunchy.

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Dried Bael Fruit ( Matuum )

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In Thailand we eat the shoots of the Matum tree as a salad vegetable, you can also eat the fruit raw and make jam from the unripe fruit. In it's dried form the main thing we use it for is to make a 'health' tea like drink by boiling the fruit in water.

Red Hales Blue Boy (Helbruboy)

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"Hales blue boy" is a range of sweet concentrates used to create several Thai sweet drinks, for example Iced Condensed Milk with Helbruboy. Really it's "Hale's Blue Boy Brand Sala Syrup", but you'll often hear Thai people call it 'Helbruboy' for short. When mixed with soda it makes a cream soda like drink, but it can be used for many other sweet drinks too.

Bean Curd Sheets ( Fong Turw Hu )

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These are yellow sheets of bean curd, in essence they are tofu in paper form. They can be used as wrappers for fried or steamed dishes and make a useful edible wrapper.

Noodle Soup Seasoning Pack ( Crung Gur Thiew )

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This is a typical seasoning pack for seasoning noodle stock and making soups. The main flavours are ginseng, galangal, star anise, lotus nuts and cinnamon bark. You will see this ingredient in todays other recipe, duck noodle soup.

Old Fish Paste ( Pa La Sub )

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You will need this to make the next sausage. It is a spicy old fish paste used in to add the kick into the sausage. We also use it as a side sauce. For the best result, leave it overnight to meld the flavors and oxidize a little.

Ingredients
50 gms Old Fish Sauce and Flesh (Boiled)
2 Tablespoons Faked Chillies
3 Red Onions
5 Garlic Cloves
3 Coriander Roots
4 Kaffir Leaves
10 gms Galangal
10 gms Lemon Grass
1 Teaspoon Sugar
3 Tablespoons Lime Juice or Tamarind Juice

Preparation
1. Blend all the ingredients together.
2. Leave in the fridge for a day.

Hales Blue Boy Green Lime Soda

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Hales Blue Boy, there use to be many soda syrups in the west too, but as ready mixed fizzy drinks took over they disappeared to be replaced by colas and orange drinks. However they're hanging on in there in Thailand! The green one is lemony.

Nigari Tofu Salt

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Nigari are salt crystals, mostly magnesium chloride crystals used to make tofu. It is the Japanese name for the bitter salt extracted from sea salt. I'm going to be making tofu in the coming days, and this is the easiest tofu salt to get hold of. It is sold as Japanese Nigari, but if you can't buy it you can also make it.
You will need real sea salt, processed sea salt already has this bitter salt removed and will not work. Look on the label for the presence of magnesium chloride.

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Instructions for Making Nigari from Sea Salt
1. Wrap your sea salt in a cheese cloth or place them in a plastic colander.
2. The Nigari salt dissolves faster than other salts, so the aim is to get the salt in a moist atmosphere so that it can drip into a tray, leaving the other salts behind.
3. I used a steamer, with a small plate to catch the drips and a wire stand to stand the bag of salt on. You can see this in the photo.
4. I place the steamer on a very low heat, I don't want the water to boil, just to make the air moist. Once the water is hot I turn off the heat and leave it covered for a at least a day, often longer.
5. The magnesium salts absorb the water far faster than other salts, and drips down into the plate. So the bitter salt that drips onto the plate is Nigari and what is left can be used as cooking salt.
6. You can the drive off the water to make crystals simply by leaving the plate out in the sun. But you can also use the liquid directly to make tofu.

Tofu

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Ah tofu. I wanted to learn how to make tofu, it looks so simple yet it takes so much effort and the result I made was, to be honest, not as good as shop bought tofu! I think I removed too much water from the mixture. I recommend you don't press it as much as I did when you make it!
For the preparation, I'm going to make my tofu from dried soya beans, but you can make it directly from the soya milk you buy in the supermarket. Just make sure the milk is not sweetened or flavoured.
I'm using Nigari (Nigari info) as my coagulating agent, this is the Japanese bitter salt they extract from sea salt. There are many types of tofu and different tofus are made with different coagulating agents, silken tofu is made with Glucono-delta-lactone (E575), a chemical made by bacteria, or Epsom salts can also be used.

Ingredients
500 gms Dried Yellow Soya Beans (1kg-1.5 kgs if fresh beans)
2 Teaspoons Nigari Salt


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Preparation Soya Milk
1. Starting with the dried beans, soak them in 1.5 litres warm water overnight. You can see how they plump up to twice the size from the photograph.
2. Drain off the water, add one cup of fresh water to help form a slurry and blend them, I used a hand blender on mine to make the slurry you see below.

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3. Next up, we need to boil the soya slurry. This is done to destroy an enzyme in the soya that would make it difficult to digest. Add 1.5 litres of water to the slurry in a pan. bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Now we need to separate the liquid from the pulp, to do this I used two layers of cheese cloth in a collander. The liquid that drains off is what we are interested in, so make sure to have a large pan underneath the collander to catch the liquid.

5. At this point we have soya milk, you could leave it to cool, add a little sugar or salt and drink it if you wish, but we need it hot to make the tofu, so it's best to go straight ahead and make the tofu.

6. Dissolve the Nigari salt in quarter a cup of cold water. Add to the hot soya milk and leave it to coagulate for 10 minutes, perhaps longer. The liquid part should be clear and the curds visible, you can leave it longer until this happens.

7. Another cheese cloth covered colander is needed to get the curds. Pour through the liquid and keep the curds in the cheese cloth, leave it for 5 minutes to let any excess liquid drain off.

8. At this point I pressed the curd under a heavy weight and drained off the liquid. However that was a mistake. Instead I would put the curd into a bowl and leave it to settle and even itself out in the fridge.

9. That's it. But after all that work, you wish you'd simply bought it!

Dried Yeast

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In Thailand we use dried yeast rather than fresh, traditionally we didn't have fridges in Thailand and some upcountry villages do not have electricity, so dried yeast keeps where fresh yeast would go off.

Yeast is used sometimes as a raising agent as in the west, but mostly to ferment rice to make alcoholic beers and wines! You'll need this and sticky rice to make next weeks Rice Wine (Sato) recipe.

Coconuts (Ma Praw)

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I was visiting friends in Kanchanaburi province, and realized how sick I am of coconuts! They're so plentiful and I eat so many of them. They're available throughout the year, and so when someone offers you another coconut, I'm not really sure it isn't some sort of punishment!

Above you can see ripe coconuts on the trees. But there are also

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Coconut Milk ( Ga Ti )

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I'd recommend you buy this in tins, it's a lot easier than making it, and the tins last practically forever. Once opened, keep them in the fridge or use the coconut milk within a few days. You can also buy coconut cream in Thailand. This is the richest, most concentrated part of coconut milk and is used in some recipes. You can make this by reducing the amount of water used, to make the milk more concentrated.
However if you can't find tinned coconut milk, but you can find fully ripe coconuts (brown coconut rather than green young coconut) you can make it yourself. The watery liquid inside the coconut is coconut water, not coconut milk. Coconut milk is made from the flesh of the coconut. A final note, don't try this with desiccated (shredded dried) packet coconut, it does not contain any juice.

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Bami Noodles ( Ba Mee Yok )

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This is how I make Bami noodles. Bami noodles are a fresh egg pasta, they can be made very easily and very quickly with the minimum of effort and without special equipment. The great advantage of them is they're quite fat and wide, so you won't have any difficulty cutting them with a knife and irregularities won't matter in the finished noodle.

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How to Make Puff Pastry

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With baking becoming more popular in Thailand, I'm learning how to bake. Making puff pastry is one of the trickiest things I've learned so this is going to need some diagrams to explain. The principles are simple, so don't let the long article put you off making your own puff pastry.

I learned that puff pastry is easier to make in a large batch, but you can freeze it for next time. I'm also going to use pastry margarine for this recipe with butter only for flavour in the dough, it's what I was taught, although you can use unsalted butter in place of the margarine if you prefer. Pastry margarine, also known as baking margarine, is margarine made from vegetable fats that's suitable for cooking. Check the label to see if the margarine can be used for baking, or if it's only for spreading.

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Pickled Brined Green Mango

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Pickling and salting is a worldwide tradition and Thailand has it's own set of classic pickled dishes. Pickled cabbage, pickled limes and so on. It's April and I have a glut of mango. I could leave it to go ripe and eat myself silly on ripe mango, but instead, I'm going to take some unripe mangos and make pickled green mango, that I can keep and eat slowly.

I call it pickling, but there's less vinegar and much more salt than regular pickling. The sour green mango can't take too much extra sourness, the saltiness is what preserves it. Pick the mango at the firm green unripe stage, you can see the stage they're at from the photo below.

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Pickled Cucumbers ( Tang Dong )

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More pickling at Cassa Khiewchanta to go with my preserved mangos. We have a small cucumber in Thailand that very cheap and widely available. Whereas pickled gherkins have to be imported and are very expensive. But since a gherkin is just a variety of cucumber, why not simply pickle the small cucumbers and use those instead?

It works! But to get the sourness into the center, you will need to slice them and make pickled sliced gherkins instead. The Thai cucumber isn't quite small enough for the vinegar to permeate all the way through, but the finished flavors are the same.
Oh, and I added some coriander seeds and chillies for a bit of bite and burn, but that's what we do in Thailand, it seems a pity to have sour all on its own.

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About Ingredients

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Appon's Thai Food Recipes in the Ingredients category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Fried Dishes is the previous category.

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