What I like best about Thai street food is that it is cooked fresh in your presence; it is spicy, fresh and contains exotic vegetables. The dishes are less likely to be spoilt by cheap meat like in other restaurants.
Some years ago, during my visit to Bangkok, I had an opportunity to attend Thai food workshop. I learnt few tricks there and that has benefited me a lot. It is easy to prepare, convenient, very beneficial especially when the unexpected guest arrive and the meal has be prepared in a jiffy. I had developed the taste for Thai food then and presently, it is my preferred and favorite cuisine.
So, when the street Thai food festival comes to my town, how could I miss it?
I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Suriya Phus irimongkhonchai at Spice, J W Marriott. I asked him how Thai food was different from Chinese cuisine. He said that it was less oily, contained more fresh exotic vegetables and he preferred to use roasted meat. Thai cuisine also contains fresh herbs like holy basil, lemon grass, kaffir leaves, that gives it that peculiar taste, other tropical ingredients like coconut milk and fresh fruits bring out its rich flavors.
Almost all Thai dishes are balanced in flavor; they are spicy, sour, salty and have sweet after taste. All the taste buds are aroused with every bite.
Thai cooking is not only about the right amount of ingredients but also about correct levels of heat and the method of preparation. For instance, papaya salad has to be prepared on the spot, stir-fries tastes good only when served immediately; grinding chilies and garlic with a mortar and pestle really makes a difference in bringing out the flavor of the ingredients.
Spice at J W Marriott was all set for the festival with different live counters in buffet style serving authentic Thai cuisine. There were fruits and vegetable carving showcased at different cooking stations. Tuesday, being my strictly veg day, I only ogled at exotic veg food but silently drooled over non-veg dishes.
I started with Mango salad. Perfectly prepared, (sweet and sour) it transported me back to the narrow lanes of Bangkok. Normally peanuts are used for crunchiness, but cashew nuts lent a richer taste.
Evening passed, trying out the various vegetarian dishes. There was great variety to choose from. Curries, soups, pastas, BBQ, stir fries, exotic salads There was a bigger variety of non-veg food, but I am glad there was limited selection for me or I would have over eaten.
My favorite was Pad Thai. I stood at the cooking station and watched him prepare, directing him on the quantity of sauces and ingredients as per my taste.
This is how he prepared.
On a huge flat pan he stir-fried the soaked rice noodles, kept them aside
Fried par-boiled vegetables like broccoli, onions, cauliflower, bean sprouts, green beans, and carrots.
Added Pad thai sauce to it
Mixed vegetables with fried noodles
Added peanuts and chili flakes
Squeezed lime-juice on it.
The authentic taste is in pad thai sauce that contains tamarind paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce, cayenne pepper, white pepper and brown sugar.
And finally the plate of exotic fruits with traditional Raum Mith
Worth a visit!! Thai food festival is on from 15th November to 1st December at Spice, J W Marriott, Juhu.