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With more than 3000 Thai restaurants in Australia, there’s little doubt that Australians love Thai cuisine. But what is it about the curries, salads and stir fries of Thailand that we find so addictive?
Thai cookery expert Professor Srisamon believes it comes down to the balance of salty, spicy, sweet and sour flavours. Here, the Professor chats about the popularity of Thai cuisine in Australia and the essential ingredients of Thai cooking.
Why do you think Thai cuisine is so popular in Australia?
I think Australians like Thai foods as they are delicious and full of flavour, with sour, salty, spicy and sweet flavours in one plate. Moreover, Thai foods are packed with vegetables, which can balance out the spicy or salty flavours.
Australians choose Thai foods, because they know that Thai cuisine uses herbs and spices that not only give flavour, fragrance and colour, but also offer health benefits, such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chilli and ginger.
What are the essential ingredients of Thai cooking?
Every ingredient or flavour combination is essential to each recipe. Even if you only use a small amount, it can define that recipe. For example, with Pad Kaprow, you must include kaprow (holy basil) leaves. Tom Kha Gai has to have galangal, and Tom Yum Goong always requires lemongrass, chilli, kaffir leaves and lime juice—this cannot be replaced by vinegar as that gives a difference taste. When following a Thai recipe, every herb and spice is essential to create the authentic characteristics of that dish.
Name five Central Thai recipes we should try at home
For home cooks who would like to try Thai recipes, I would recommend my favourite dishes, such as Khao Pad Supparod (pineapple fried rice), Kai Jeaw (omelette), Larb Moo (spicy pork salad with roasted rice), Nua Toon (boiled beef), and Pad Woonsen (stir-fried glass noodle).