Who doesn’t love Thai food!
Come summer Thai food is by reputation alone the perfect antidote for hot weather dining. The heat of chillies miraculously cools the body and excites the appetite. Of course Thai chillies reign supreme in Thai cooking and may dissuade the uninitiated. That said, chilies can be tempered for the western palate without sacrificing the seductive character of what makes Thai food so compelling.
Beginning with the basics of Thai cooking is a fine place to deepen an understanding of what makes Thai food so popular across the globe. The secrets are all in the broth so to speak. The aroma of a simmering Thai broth flavored with local herbs and vegetables is as exotic as it is assertive and embodies the very essence what Thai food is all about. While some unfamiliar ingredients may at first seem daunting, not to worry. Easily found in Asian markets and once simmering in your stockpot they will reveal their unique character and use for your next foray into cooking like a Thai!
The beauty of this broth is its utility. Used for soups (the infamous Tom Yam), sauces, marinades, brine, poaching liquid, and on and on ad infinitum. And don’t be afraid to extend its use into western dishes including clear or pureed vegetable soups, sauces, as a brine for meats and poultry, a poaching liquid for seafood, in a glaze for grilling, or simply for steaming rice.
A whole new adventure in Thai cooking awaits!
Thai Broth makes about 2 quarts
- 2 tablespoons palm oil (or cold pressed peanut oil)
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves; peeled and minced
- 4 lemon grass ( takhrai) stalks; cut into 3rds and smashed
- 3 1/8 inch slices galangal (kha)
- 3 1/8 inch slices ginger root
- 3 1/8 inch slices fresh turmeric ( khamin)
- 3 coriander roots; smashed (rak pak chee )
- 3-4 hot Thai green chillies ( phrik chi nu) whole (or smashed for more heat)
- 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves ( bai makrut); or frozen or dried
- 3 ½ quarts water
- 1 tomato (for color), diced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Place a stockpot over medium flame and once hot add the oil. When nearly smoking add the onions. Lower the heat a little and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent; about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add about 1 cup of water and cook until the water is nearly evaporated.
Add the lemon grass, galangal, ginger, turmeric, coriander roots, bird’s eye chillies and kaffir lime leaves. Toss with the onion mixture and cook briefly. Then add the remaining water and bring back up to a low simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Add the diced tomato (if using) and simmer until the stock has reduced and aromatic; about another 30 minutes.
Add the lime juice and cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool for 30 minutes.
Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer, squeezing all the liquid out of the solids using the back of a wooden spoon. Discard the solids. Transfer the broth to containers and cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating, or freezing.