The food in Thailand is good not just because the food itself has flavor already. Yes, that is true. But what is the key to many of the Thai dishes is the sauce.
This is part I of a series of posts that will help you know the secrets to eating Thai food. Of course, you can come to Thailand and never know about these details – you’ll get along fine. However, if you want to know the details, the nuances, and get into the real way of eating Thai food like a Thai – put down your knives, pick up your fork and spoon, and get ready to dig in.
Essential Thai Condiments
Condiments are not just the same ones we know – like ketchup and relish, sauerkraut or kimche. Not any one sauce is alike, and they should be carefully paired with the proper dish.
A table may have five sauces, but one must use discretion when adding – and the key is:
always taste first before you flavor.
Take for example the dish “Kao kaa muu” (rice leg pork). It is a plate of rice, served with stewed pork leg in a dark soy sauce broth. In order to get the best bite possible, you must make sure it is complete with the appropriate pieces. In addition to the rice and pork leg, you will need a little
1. Pickled cabbage.
2. Fresh garlic clove (preferably the smaller cloves).
3. Chili – yes, one whole chili (these are larger birds eye chilies, less smooth and more like a witch’s crooked nose).
4. Chili vinegar- this is a vinegar based sauce, with red chilies mashed up and added in.
Here we will share with you a few of the most popular dishes.
Popular Dishes and Method to Flavor Them
1. Kao man gai – boiled chicken and oiled rice. Key ingredients for the condiments include: finely diced ginger, diced chilies, and bean curd paste sauce with vinegar and chilies. If you get a portion of fried chicken, then the sweet chili sauce matches best.
2. Kao muu deng muu groop – the base of this dish is rice and generally it is dry with the red pork and pork belly if you don’t ad ether sauce. Therefore, be sure to drizzle the gravy sauce (light brown) and add dark sweet soy sauce with chilis. Each of the grains of rice should not be white anymore, and it will get slightly darker with the soy sauce. The table should have a cup with green onion stems – chill them in ice water first for a crispier experience.
3. Bami muu gieow – this dish either comes with soup or without. With soup it is important to taste the soup itself to see how salty it is. We’d recommend the dry, then add more soup as you like. This dish calls for vinegar with sliced green chilies (the chilies are not necessary but vinegar is), dried chili flakes, sugar and fish sauce. Add dashes of each and taste, after mixing thoroughly. Adding some of the black soy sauce is suitable as well.
For more how to – see our YouTube video showing the techniques of mixing noddles with sauces.