Welcome Tastes of Thailand
Three different varieties are used. The most common is Bai Horapha, which has a slight aniseed flavor and a reddish purple color. Others are Bai Kaphrao, which is hotter in flavor, and Bai Maenglak, a milder form often sprinkled over soups and salads. When these are not available western sweet basil may be used, though the taste will be somewhat different.
Several different types of chili (Phrik) are used in Thai cooking. As a general rule, the smaller the chili, the hotter it is. The hottest of all is the tiny red or green Phrik Khi Nu, followed by the slightly larger Phrik Chi Fa. Dried chilies (Phrik Khi Nu Heang) and ground chili powder (Phrik Khi Nu Pon) are also used.
A relative of the ginger root, galanga (Kha) imparts a delicate, unique flavor. It is used fresh, dried or powdered.
In addition to galanga, two other varieties of ginger are used in Thai cooking, with the familiar one being Khing and the other, Krachai, which has milder flavor.
Both the fruit and leaves of this shrub, Makrut Thai, lend a distinctive taste to many Thai dishes, especially curry pastes. There is no real substitute.
This tall, grass-like plant (Takhrai) has small bulbous roots and a lemony flavor and aroma. The bud and base leaves are chopped and pounded for many dishes, as well as for a refreshing herbal tea.
Fresh leaves of this plant (Saranae) are used for flavoring and to garnish a number of dishes.
Used in three forms — fresh green, dried black or ground – these are called Phrik Thai and add a peppery flavor to many dishes.
The pulp of the pod of the tamarind tree (Makham) adds a sour taste to numerous meat and fish dishes.