Deliciously spicy and intensely aromatic authentic Asian dishes, like tofu pad Thai, are favourite restaurant menu choices and homemade comfort food staples all over the world. If you love classic Thai dishes that deliver on taste bud tingling taste, nutrition, texture and colour, here are 5 must-try mouthwatering recipes…
- Tom Yum Goong Nam Sai
If you’re planning to serve up a Thai cuisine feast for family and friends, Tom Yum is the perfect starter to include on your menu. There are two different versions of the classic Tom Yum sour and spicy Thai soup – goong nam sai is the clear broth version, and goong nam khon has a creamy texture and milky colour. Both contain shrimp (goong).
Whilst Tom Yum is traditionally made with freshwater shrimp, you can easily customise the recipe by adding squid, fish or chicken. For vegetarians and vegan, omit the fish sauce and meat, and add chunks of firm tofu, or shitake mushrooms. You’ll also need lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, fresh Thai chilies, and lime juice.
To ensure that your soup packs a punch, it’s best to flavour the broth with Nam Prik Pao – a paste of herbs, chili, shallots, and garlic. You can make your own paste by roasting chillies and blending them with the other ingredients, or buy it ready made from your local Asian food store.
Fill a pan with 2 litres of water, and while it’s on the boil prepare the lemongrass by pounding it and cutting diagonally into 1-inch strips. Chop and slice the galangal. Coarsely tear the kaffir lime leaves, and peel the garlic cloves. Slice Thai bird chilies and remove the seeds, if you don’t like spice that is fiery hot. Add these ingredients to the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
Toss in the prepared shrimp, plus a few wedges of white onions. Add some fish sauce and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Cook until the onions are soft, and add lime juice to taste. Before serving the soup, throw in a handful of chopped, fresh cilantro.
- Tofu Pad Thai
There are many reasons why Pad Thai is such an iconic and popular dish. The humble, cheap and cheerful dish of the people was responsible for helping to preserve Thailand’s rice resources and improving the nation’s diet during wartime. The delectable mix of rice noodles stir-fried with eggs and tofu, and seasoned with tamarind, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, onion, pepper, and palm sugar, is highly appetising to western palates.
When making Tofu Pad Thai at home use extra firm bean curd cut into cubes, and add crunchy bean sprouts, zesty lime wedges, and crushed roasted peanuts for enhanced taste, colour and texture. Meat lovers can recreate this classic Thai dish with fresh shrimp, chicken, or pork.
- Massaman Curry
Classic Thai dishes are not all noodle based. There are many popular national spicy curries that are inspired by the authentic cuisine of India.
Whilst you’re likely to see the colourful and aromatic red, yellow, and green curries of Thailand on restaurant menus worldwide, it’s the mildly spiced Thai, Indian and Malaysian fusion Massaman curry that is most revered as a must-try dish.
To make Massaman curry in the traditional way, you need one cooking pot and your preferred meat ingredient – beef or chicken. The meat is cooked with shrimp paste, coriander seeds, lemongrass, galangal, and chillies, and flavoured with cinnamon, cumin, cardamon, anise, and nutmeg.
To transform this tasty curry into a vegetarian friendly option, use a vegetable stock that’s infused with coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, cumin, and nutmeg. Chunks of potato, sweet potato or pan-fried tofu make a satisfying and filling plant-based substitute.
4. Kaeng Khiao Wan – Green Curry
For a classic Thai curry that boosts an intense and pungent flavour, nothing beats vibrant Kaeng Khiao Wan. To make spicy green curry like a pro, you first need to create a base paste with coriander, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and zest, coconut milk and green chillies. This paste adds colour and flavour to the coconut milk and fish sauce blended curry sauce.
Goat is the meat that is traditionally used to make creamy green curry in south Thailand. You can of course, opt for chicken instead, or a plant-based alternative (without fish sauce). Serve the green curry with plain white rice, or thin khanom chin rice noodles.
- Pad See Ew
If you love noodles that are thicker than those used to make Tofu Pad Thai, you’ll definitely enjoy tucking into a plateful of stir-fried Pad See Ew. This popular and super easy to make Thailand street food classic dish combines wide noodles with chicken, pork or tofu, and eggs, lashings of dark soy sauce, and fresh Chinese broccoli.
The meat is partially cooked with garlic in a hot wok, before the other ingredients are added and stir-fried together.