Thai cuisine is known for its delicious and unique flavors, with a variety of spices being used to create authentic dishes. While many of us are familiar with the popular staples of Thai cooking such as curry, lemongrass, and ginger, there are many other spices that are often overlooked. Let EZ Thai Restaurant in Fredrick, Maryland be your guide as you uncover the secrets of these spices and enjoy a truly authentic Thai experience.
Uncovering the Secrets of Authentic Thai Spices
Cumin & Coriander
Cumin and coriander are two of the most popular spices in Thai cuisine. Cumin has a strong, earthy flavor and will add depth and complexity to any Thai dish. Coriander is more subtle in flavor and can be used to add sweetness to certain dishes.
Cumin can either be in seed or powder form. The seeds are a staple in Thai and Indian cuisine to make red curry paste. The powder is not typically used in Thai restaurants because it isn’t as strong compared to the seeds that are ground fresh.
Similarly to cumin, coriander is used to add flavor to many pastes used in Thai dishes. Most chefs will actually use both of these spices together to liven up the ingredients.
Tumeric is one of the most common spices used in curry powder. This spice will add color, flavor, and a variety of nutritional benefits to Thai cuisine. It is known that turmeric can improve heart health and possibly prevent cancer. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidants to help digestive and immune health.
The turmeric spice can be used fresh or in powder form. Fresh turmeric is harder to come by in the United States but it is certainly worth finding to add that distinctive flavor to Thai food. If you find it fresh avoid buying it until absolutely necessary because it only lasts up to a week. Powdered turmeric is most commonly used for commercial purposes. The best Thai dishes will always use fresh turmeric, but the powder is more readily available and still provides the correct color and taste.
Galangal is considered the cousin of the spice ginger. It is an important spice used in many Thai dishes, especially curries, soups, and stir-fries. The pungent, warming spice grows underground and has a unique flavor that cannot be replicated by other ingredients. One of the key ingredients in Thai cooking is galangal, and its use is essential in order to achieve an authentic Thai flavor.
The two forms of the galangal spice are fresh and powdered. People consider fresh galangal to be its own special flavor that can’t be replaced by ginger and needs to be sourced correctly if you want to make the best Thai dishes. Powdered versions of galangal are seen more for mass-production purposes. The end result of using powered galangal in Thai dishes has less potency and loses its aroma.
Most Thai cuisine will have chili peppers to add a kick of heat to the dish. There are a variety of chili peppers used to create heat. The four main categories are very hot, hot, medium, and mild.
There are several variations of chili peppers that can be used in a Thai dish. Chilies dried whole, give the dish light heat and add color. Powdered chili is very rarely used in Thai cooking and chili flakes are used in Thai soup and pastes.
The secrets of authentic Thai spices can be uncovered by exploring the history of the spices and their uses in traditional Thai dishes. All the authentic spices have several variations but the best Thai dishes use fresh spices to create unique dishes. EZ Thai Restaurant encourages customers to try a new Thai dish and explore the authentic Thai spices on our menu!