For the past couple of decades the flavorful foods of Thailand have been on the scene.
We interviewed Thai expert and cookbook author, Naam Pruitt, to see what's new on the Thai cooking scene.
In your opinion, what makes Thai food so delicious, intricate and special?
It is the balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy flavors by using the freshest ingredients in a meal. For example, if you have a spicy creamy curry, you should serve something bright and herbal like yum (a Thai salad) to complement it.
What are the biggest elements/ingredients involved in Thai cooking?
Coconut milk, palm sugar, chili peppers, garlic, limes and herbs such as cilantro, mint, Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves and, most importantly, rice.
Are you seeing Thai influences in American restaurants/packaged goods?
All the time. I see Sriracha, sweet chili sauce and peanut sauce incorporated in dishes in trendy restaurants and definitely in many packaged foods, especially chips.
To an American home cook, can you offer any advice for cooking Thai food?
I recommend taking a couple of Thai cooking classes locally as well as buying a cookbook. Then start with less complicated ingredients until you are more comfortable with the unusual ingredients.
Are there any new food trends that you've seen in Thailand?
Just like the U.S. is trying to incorporate Asian ingredients into products and restaurant dishes, the Thais do the same thing, except with western ingredients.
Are you ever concerned whether your meat is over or under cooked?
No, I use a temperature measuring device, such as a meat thermometer to let me know the right temperature.
Don't want to mess with your old meat thermometer while cooking your Thai-inspired meal?
Talk to your butcher or grocer about including Volk's Cook'd RightTM Sensor with your pre-packaged meat. A Cook'd RightTM Sensor conveniently and accurately indicates the optimum temperature of doneness.