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by Rena Fulgencio, staff writer

Every year the Ministry of Commerce in Thailand launches the Thailand Super Chef Contest, a search for the nations best chefs to represent Thailand in oversea promotions of Thai cuisine.

Thai cuisine has been very popular in the United States as well as other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Canada. Although considered a general type of Asian cuisine, it can be classified according to the four main regions of Thailand: northern, northeastern, central, and southern.

Thai food differs from region to region, each with its own influences and unique flavors. The south is influenced by Malay cuisine, and is known for its spicy dishes and its use of coconut. The central region of Thailand is influenced by Chinese cooking and has numerous noodle dishes, such as pad thai. Both the south and central regions prefer steamed or non-glutinous rice with meals. Northeastern foods are influenced by Laotian cuisine; its most popular dish is papaya salad. The northern part of Thailand incorporates lime in its dishes, a Portuguese influence. Both the northern and northeastern regions prefer glutinous or sticky rice, which is sweet. Each region has its own kinds of curries, an Indian influence.

“ My favorite is Panang curry [a southern dish],” said Cash Singh, a visual communication major at HPU. “It’s nice, thick, and creamy, and it’s got a very pleasant spicy taste. It’s got a really nice smell to it, too.”

You can try these simple recipes at home, and can also find them at www.thai-food.com.

Gang Gai (Chicken Curry)

Ingredients:
3 cups water
3-5 sprigs Thai basil
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
½ lb. eggplant
1 Tbsp. red curry paste
1 cup coconut milk
1 chicken breast

Directions:

First, cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces. Next, pour half of the coconut milk into a large pot over low to medium-low heat. Add the red curry paste. Stir constantly. If it begins to splatter, lower the heat. Then, when you see red oil bubbling, add the chicken. When the chicken starts to turn white, add the eggplant. Next, add the rest of the coconut milk and water and the fish sauce. Let it boil until all the eggplant pieces turn dark and tender. (The longer you boil the curry, the thicker it becomes because the eggplant thickens the sauce as it disintegrates). Add the basil leaves just before serving. (Make sure the leaves are submerged quickly in the curry to preserve the leaves’ color). Serve hot with rice or rice noodles.

Kow Neuw Mamuang (Mango on Sticky Rice)

Ingredients:
1 mango, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup sticky rice
2 pinches salt
1½ cup warm water
1 cup coconut milk

Directions:
Soak the sticky rice in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl and cook in the microwave for three minutes on high heat. Stir the rice, then, cook for another three minutes. When cooked, all the rice should be translucent. If it needs more cooking, return to microwave, continue to heat, checking every three minutes or so.

Next, heat the coconut milk in a pot over medium heat. Stir constantly and let the coconut milk simmer, but do not let it curdle. Add the sugar and salt. Remove it from the heat, and pour 3/4 of the hot coconut milk over the hot sticky rice. Let it sit for five minutes. The sticky rice will absorb all of the coconut milk. The rice should be a little mushy. Add the mango and spoon the rest of the coconut milk over it at serving time.

Now that you have a little taste of Thai cuisine, you can actively learn more about Thailand by joining HPU’s Thai Student Organization. Visist them at www.hpu.edu or e-mail: bobo2usa@yahoo.com or ixiezopo@hpu.edu.

 


Phuket Thai also offers an eggplant dish, to which guests can feel free to add beef, shrimp, or scallops as in the serving above.

Photo by Eddie London

 
 

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