Thai Food In Britain
The popularity of Thai food has exploded in recent years. It’s not unusual to see dedicated Thai restaurants, or even just Thai-inspired dishes on menus in other types of establishments. The number of different types of authentic Thai food is vast, so it’s always worth checking the menu first if you have specific cravings.
With that in mind, here are some of the most common options you might find when dining out at a British restaurant. That doesn’t stop there being plenty of opportunities to try authentic versions at home. Many people who enjoy this type of cuisine also like cooking it because it can be very straightforward and easy to recreate at home with minimum effort. If you’ve never cooked this kind of food before, take a peek at these recipes for some inspiration:
Tom yum goong
A soup with plenty of prawns or clams, mushrooms and lemongrass, this is one of the most popular dishes in the world. It’s one of those recipes that is often cooked in homes because it’s so easy. If you can find Thai lemongrass, though, it’s best to use that instead of just chopping up some common lemongrass. The real deal will have a much more pungent aroma and flavour. Crab or lobster is a great substitute if you can find it, but do make sure you don’t over-cook it
This is one of those soups where the flavor really comes from the broth. To make it as authentic as possible, use Thai fish sauce and don’t overdo the coconut milk. The perfect bowl should be very bold, full of lemongrass and heat from chili peppers.
There are many variations on the recipe, but this is the classic version, so it gives you a great starting point for making your own variation. It’s also mild enough for most tastes, so is a great choice for beginners. Serves 4 Ingredients - 4 littleneck clams - 1 cup shiitake mushrooms - 1 lemongrass stalk - 2 kaffir lime leaves - 1/2 cup lime juice - 1 tsp fish sauce - 1 tsp chili powder - 2 tsp coconut oil - 1 lime, cut into wedges, to garnish Instructions Cut the lemongrass stalk lengthways and remove the tough outer leaves. Cut the stalk into 3 pieces and crush using a pestle and mortar. Cut the kaffir lime leaves into very thin strips and set aside. Add the mushrooms to the bowl and crush, followed by the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Squeeze the lime juice into the bowl and add the fish sauce, chili powder and coconut oil. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes. Remove the clams from their shells and put the meat into the bowl.
A stir fry noodle dish that’s usually served with eggs and vegetables, this is one of the most iconic Thai recipes. It’s a mix of rice noodles, fish sauce, tamarind, chili and peanut sauce. If you want to make it as authentic as possible, be sure to find the right rice noodles and make a tamarind paste from scratch. As with most stir fry dishes, the key is in starting with a very hot pan and having all of your ingredients ready. Throw the noodles in the pan, add the ingredients and get it out of the pan as soon as it’s ready.
It’s one of the most well-known dishes from this part of the world, and it’s simple enough for beginners. This recipe uses the authentic method for making the noodles. If you have a pasta maker, you can use that, but otherwise, you can find a pad thai noodle maker online or in Asian food shops. Serves 4 Ingredients - 8 oz flat rice noodles - 1 lb large shrimp, peeled - 1/2 tsp salt - 3 tbsp fish sauce - 2 tbsp soy sauce - 2 tbsp lime juice - 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts - 3 tbsp chopped peanuts - 1/2 cup chopped scallions - 2 tbsp vegetable oil - 3 garlic cloves, chopped - 1/3 cup Thai sweet chili sauce Instructions Cook the noodles in a large amount of boiling water for 5–6 minutes, or according to the instructions on the packet. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and leave to drain. Cut the shrimp in half horizontally and sprinkle with salt. Leave to sit for 10 minutes. Stir together the fish sauce, soy sauce and lime juice in a bowl. Drain the shrimp and leave to sit in this dressing for 10 minutes. Put the noodles, shrimp and bean sprouts in a bowl and toss together. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts, scallions and Thai sweet chili sauce and serve.
A traditional Thai soy sauce chicken dish that’s served with rice and a side of pickled vegetables, this is one of the more unusual Thai recipes. It’s also one of the most delicious options on the menu if you’re feeling adventurous. If you’re going for an authentic flavor, you’ll want to start by making your own soy sauce. It’s not difficult, but it does require leaving a mixture of soybeans, salt, water and a little yeast to ferment for around two weeks.
This is a mild and tasty vegetarian option that’s easy to whip up at home. It’s a great side dish, but also works as a vegetarian main course. This recipe uses tofu, but it’s simple to adapt for other veggies, such as broccoli or mange tout. You can find tamari soy sauce at supermarkets or online, but if you can’t find it, you can always substitute with a mixture of soy sauce and some salt. Serves 4 Ingredients - 1 block firm tofu - 1/2 cup soy sauce - 1 tbsp brown sugar - 1/2 tsp ground ginger - 1/2 tsp chili flakes - 2 cups rice - 1 tbsp vegetable oil - 1 clove garlic, chopped - 1/2 cup bean sprouts - 2 scallions, chopped - 1/2 cup peanuts Instructions Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Put the tofu cubes in a bowl and add the soy sauce, sugar, ground ginger and chili flakes. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Put the vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the tofu cubes for 10 minutes, or until brown. Add the garlic and fry for a further 1–2 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and scallions and fry for a final 1–2 minutes. Stir the peanuts into the rice, then serve, topped with the tofu.
Thai fried rice
This is a mixture of Thai rice, peas and eggs that’s fried in a wok. Any authentic version will use Thai fragrant rice, which is a delicious, long-grained white rice. It’s usually flavored with pandan leaves, which are very fragrant leaves that are often used in desserts and sweets. If you can’t find them, leave the pandan leaves in the rice while it’s cooking, which will give it the same flavor. Another easy way to add an authentic touch is to throw a handful of cashew nuts into the wok while it’s cooking. Authentic versions sometimes use Chinese black beans, which are a lot stronger in flavor so it’s best to just use cashews instead. To make it a proper Thai fried rice, it’s best to add some soy sauce, a little sugar and a few drops of fish sauce.
Thai fried rice is another popular dish which is easy to make at home. You can use frozen peas, corn or edamame to make a veggie version, or add in meat, such as bacon or chicken to make this a main course. Make sure to use long-grain rice or jasmine rice, not any other type. Serves 4 Ingredients - 1 tbsp vegetable oil - 2 garlic cloves, chopped - 1/2 tsp chili powder - 1 small onion, chopped - 1 cup long-grain rice - 1/2 cup soy sauce - 4 cups boiling water - 4 eggs, beaten - 1 cup frozen peas - 1 cup corn - 1 cup edamame beans - 2 scallions, chopped Instructions Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder and fry for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and fry for 2 minutes. Pour the soy sauce into the pan and stir together the spices. Pour in the boiling water, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 12–13 minutes. Push the rice to one side of the wok, then pour the beaten eggs into the empty side of the wok and scramble. Stir the eggs into the rice and serve, with the peas, corn and edamame beans sprinkled on top.
The most popular Thai curry, this is usually made with coconut milk and a green chili paste (which is very different from fresh green chili peppers). It’s often served with fish and vegetables, which you can add to make it a full meal. Green curry paste is the best way to make a good authentic version. If you can find the real deal, it can be worth the extra cost as it’s full of flavor. The best way to make authentic green curry is to fry the paste in a little oil before adding water to make the sauce. Then, add the fish and vegetables and cook for about five minutes before adding the coconut milk. Authentic versions use Thai fish sauce and palm sugar, which is a dark sugar with a caramel flavor that’s worth the extra effort to find.
Mango sticky rice
A popular Thai dessert and snack, this is a combination of sticky rice and mango. The rice is served warm, sometimes with coconut milk or other ingredients. The best way to make authentic sticky rice is to cook it with coconut water instead of water. If you don’t have any at home, it’s sometimes possible to buy it ready-made in Asian supermarkets. The mango part is also important. Choose ripe mangoes, then peel and slice them into cubes.
The most famous Thai curries are red, yellow and green. They’re made with a mix of spices, coconut milk and vegetables. Authentic versions use Thai curry paste, which you can use to make the base for any of these curries. Once you have that, you can throw in your own combination of vegetables and spices to make it your own.
If you want to make the full authentic versions, here are the main ingredients you should use: - Red curry paste - red chili peppers, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, salt, shallots, shrimp paste, coriander and kaffir lime - Yellow curry paste - cumin, coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, salt, shrimp paste, coconut milk, kaffir lime and Thai eggplant - Green curry paste - coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, kaffir lime, shallots, leeks, salt, coriander, Thai basil, basil and cilantro.
A very popular Thai street food dish, this involves stir frying pork or chicken in a sweet and sour sauce. Authentic versions use Thai sweet chilli sauce, which can be bought ready-made in Asian supermarkets. The sauce can be added to the meat, or used as a stir fry sauce with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, sugar and chili peppers. The pork or chicken can be pre-cooked before it’s added to the pan, but the sauce should be added at the end of cooking so it doesn’t overcook.
A simple Thai recipe that’s often served as a snack, these are made from a batter of flour, coconut milk and water. They’re often eaten with sweet and sour sauce and other toppings. The best way to make authentic Thai pancakes is to use coconut milk instead of just normal milk. If you want to go all the way, use Thai rice flour, which has a stronger aroma and flavor than normal rice flour.
Finally, authentic Thai pancakes are often topped with a mix of peanuts, sugar and dried shrimp. You can buy ready-made mixes, or just add chopped peanuts, a pinch of sugar and a few dried shrimp. The authentic version is made with fresh warm pancakes, but if you want to make it easier, you can also make them with leftover batter. Simply pour the batter into a pan and cook it like a pancake.
It’s easy to see why Thai food has become so popular. It’s fresh and flavorful, easy to make and great to share. If you’re cooking for friends and want to serve something a little different, this is a great option. Authentic Thai recipes go great with a beer, and it’s easy to tailor them to suit different diets and requirements. There’s so much to explore in this type of cuisine, so why not try cooking a new dish at home soon?