Friday, January 25, 2008

A Tantalising Thai Dinner Party

I'm not sure about where you live but here in Sydney, Thai food is so popular that most suburbs have at least one Thai restaurant if not 20! This may be a bit of an exaggeration but you get the drift - it's capital "P" for popular!

So, when you're planning a dinner party at home it makes sense to serve your guests a type of food that people seem to love. Thai food is your perfect option. It's exotic, clean and light and best of all, delicious!

Thai cuisine is known for its balance of five fundamental flavors. Most Thai dishes tend to incorporate all of these flavors if not most. These flavors are:

- hot (spicy - chili)

- sour (vinegar, lime juice, tamarind)

- sweet (soft brown sugar, fruits, sweet peppers)

- salty (soy sauce, fish sauce)

- bitter (which is optional)

The great thing with Thai food is that instead of dried herbs they use a lot of fresh herbs and spices and fish sauce. The aromas are sensational.

Since 95% of Thais are Buddhists, they leave religious offerings of fruit at the base of a Buddha statue with burning candles, incense and the like in restaurants. There is a peacefulness that this brings as you lay witness to the scene. You will also often find photos of their much loved and long serving King.

You could re-create a Thai space in your dining room by adding the smell of a subtle incense and making the lighting softer than usual. If you don't have a light dimmer try lighting the dining room with some candles or lamps to create a lovely ambiance.

If you can get hold of some Thai classical music this would be lovely for background sound - or at else some other oriental-inspired music.

Thais don't generally use chop sticks to eat - rather a fork and a dessert-like spoon but if you want the Asian touch (Thailand is in South-East Asia) feel free to provide each guest with a pair of chopsticks. Consider a wooden or bamboo place mat at each guest's place.

As a centerpiece to your table you could fill a long shallow bowl with water and place floating candles atop. You could also try to purchase some exotic looking flowers. On my trips to Thailand, orchids and the like have adorned the table settings. The whole experience of eating is pure pleasure.

For starters you could serve one of their delicious soups like a hot and spicy Tom Yum Goong (spicy and sour prawn soup) or a Tom Yum Kai which is similar but with chicken.

You could also serve Thai fish cakes, spring rolls in rice paper, curry puffs, satay chicken or deep fried chicken wings - with dipping sauce of course.

For main - stir fries, whole fish, Thai curries (green, red, yellow, Masaman, etc) or the ever popular noodle dishes like Pad Thai or Pad See Yu. Don't forget the steamed rice served in a covered rice bowl in a central position on your table, so people can help themselves.

A platter of fresh exotic fruit or a mango sticky rice dish is wonderful for dessert.

You see, there are just so many recipe choices for your Thai meal. I would suggest checking the Internet for free recipes or getting hold of an easy Thai recipe book - like the one I suggest below.

Most of the ingredients you will need are easily available at your local Asian specialty food store.

You see now busy home cooks can bring the fantastic flavors of Thai cuisine into the kitchen with a simple trip to the grocery store. Nancie McDermott, experienced cook, teacher, and author of the best-selling cookbook Real Thai, presents this collection of 70 delicious recipes that focus on easy-to-find ingredients and quick cooking methods to whip up traditional Thai. With recipes like Crying Tiger Grilled Beef, Grilled Shrimp and Scallops with Lemongrass, Sticky Rice with Mangoes, and Thai Iced Tea, along with McDermott's highly practical array of shortcuts, substitutions, and time-saving techniques, anyone can prepare home-cooked authentic Thai meals -- as often as they like.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

No comments: