Thai food is likely one of my all-time favorite cuisines in the world. For me, it really has the best of everything: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, umami, and extremely complex. All the different herbs and fresh ingredients put together with different shrimp and fish-based pastes make for one explosion of flavor in the mouth after the other. Unless you just do not like flavor, Thai food is just one of the most delicious and complex cuisines in the world.
Unfortunately, here in the U.S., where we’ve basically taken complex and high-skill cuisines such as Chinese and Thai and “sweetified” them — that is to say, loaded them with so much sugar that we just expect iterations of their dishes to be sweet and sickly, a lot of people have no idea how multi-layered and deep Thai or Chinese flavors can be. They just haven’t been exposed to it because the people want and/or expect sweet, so the Thai business owners will often cater to those tastes and make their dishes sweeter. I mean, it *is* a business, right, and they need to make money to pay their bills and survive, so why not give the people what they want?
I’ve learned so much from Pai from Hot Thai Kitchen via her YouTube channel on the complexities of Thai cooking and how to make a lot of these favorite dishes at home with authentic flavors, a few shortcuts, and her recommended techniques. One of the things I’ve recently gotten excited about were her recommended Maesri Thai curry spice pastes. They are readily available and really tasty. She offers her doctored version of these pastes just by adding a few additional ingredients to make them more well rounded and “Thai,” and suggests uses for them other than making curries and stews. One of her suggestions, which I just did today, was to use the paste as just that – a spice paste to flavor minced meat and vegetables in a stir fry. I used some ground turkey I got from Costco, threw in a bunch of greens, chilies, and kaffir lime leaves, and ended it all with a squeeze of lime, and it was likely one of the fastest, most satisfying dishes I’ve made in a while.
Quick and easy Thai cooking is possible, like many other cuisines, as long as you have certain ingredients on hand!