Thai Dinner Party

Thailand is the land of smiles, spicy air, and tranquil countryside. A complex and historic past is reflected in their food, balanced by sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavors. Enjoy these original recipes courtesy of Viking Cooking School. You can learn to make a traditional, yet "home-cook friendly" Thai meal. Perfecting this menu will lead to your own impressive, bold and exotic dinner party.

Thai Beef Salad with Lettuce Cups and Sticky Rice

Tom Kha Gai

Pad Thai with Shrimp

Mango Sorbet "Martini" with Basil Sugar Rim; Thai Iced Tea

Ginger Cosmopolitans

An important part of making Thai cuisine is balancing the flavors. Salty, sour, and spicy must be in balance. Below are some tips to help you create the perfect Thai meal.

Balancing Flavors

  • If a dish is too spicy, add something sweet (sugar) or creamy (coconut milk)
  • If a dish is too salty, add something sour (lime juice or tamarind)
  • If a dish is too sweet, add something sour (lime juice or tamarind) or spicy (chiles)
  • If a dish is too sour, add something sweet (honey, sugar or palm sugar)
  • If a dish is too bland or boring, add something salty (fish sauce), something spicy (chiles) or something sour (lime juice or tamarind) - or add all three!
  • If a dish is too bitter, add something sweet (honey, sugar, or palm sugar)

Shopping for Thai Ingredients

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions in an ethnic market. Most people are secretly flattered that you want to learn about their culture.
  • Plan your questions carefully for non-native English speaking store staff.
  • Look for the small print on the labels.
  • You'll be amazed how inexpensively you can stock your pantry with ingredients to make Thai recipes with great success.

Eating the Thai Way

  • Thai people use their fork to push food onto an Asian spoon and eat off the spoon. When they are done, they put their fork and spoon together on the plate.
  • Thai appetizers are similar in style to western appetizers.
  • Thai main courses are dishes eaten with rice.
  • Unlike with western food, there is actually no one "main course" in a meal. You will frequently have 1 to 3 different dishes per person that everyone shares.

Working with Chiles

  • Capsaicin is the alkaloid responsible for the heat in chiles; it is painful and dangerous for the skin or in the eyes.
  • Wear latex gloves to protect the skin when working with hot chiles, especially when handling the hottest varieties (such as habanero or Scotch bonnet).
  • If you do get burned, remember that capsaicin is oil soluble, meaning that water will have no effect on it. So if you come down with Hunan hand, which is the official name for capsaicin-burned hands, the best remedy is to soak the affected area in milk. Even this will not completely eliminate the heat, but it will reduce it. (The same advice applies to flaming taste buds; rather than water, consume a dairy product such as sour cream, milk, yogurt or ice cream.)
  • Whenever you're working with or cooking chiles, it's a good idea to keep your face away from any concentrated chile combinations. Be careful where you put your nose while processing and cooking chiles. It's not wise to stick your nose right over the top of the blender as you remove the lid after grinding up a batch of chiles, likewise with a covered pot of chiles that is being cooked on the stove.
  • If your eyes or nose are burned by chiles, flush immediately with cold water.

Book Recommendations: Thai Food and Cooking by Judy Bastyra and Becky Johnson; and Quick and Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott.


Recipes:

Spanish Meatballs in Saffron Sauce
Meatballs appear in almost every culinary culture and these tender, saffron-scented meatballs hail from Spain. They include a combination of ground pork and veal, but use all veal if you want to splurge on some of the most delicate meatballs imaginable.
Ginger Cosmopolitan
Mango Sorbet "Martini" with a Basil Sugar Rim
This refreshing and sophisticated dessert will hit the spot and impress your guests!
Pad Thai with Shrimp
Pad Thai is the perfect example of true Thai flavors. It is subtly sweet, tart and salty all at once. Traditional Pad Thai recipes call for cooked chicken or roast pork in place of or along with the shrimp.