Learn to cook Thai food - or simply indulge!
Thai food today is renowned throughout the world for its highly diversified dishes, its healthiness and freshness. Yet Thai restaurants overseas often limit themselves to variations on a theme, with certain dishes appearing ubiquitously on their menus, whilst regional or more diverse and gustatorily gleeful aspects of Thai cuisine are more often than not ignored. Levels on the Scoville scale are also frequently tampered with, whereby traditionally spicy dishes are toned down for the unaccustomed palate. This of course is normal - and we have no designs to assassinate our guests with excessive chilli, and enjoy catering to all tastes. As such, simply let us know should you wish your meals to be authentically fiery, or should you prefer milder Thai food - especially when travelling with children!
Learn to Cook Thai Food
Should you be keen to watch your meals being prepared, or to participate in their cooking, you are of course welcome to join in! You are free to limit such participation to simply observing whilst specific dishes are prepared, or to immerse yourself in the techniques and details form the very outset, visiting markets or venturing into the garden to collect the requisite herbs, spices and other ingredients (learning to identify them along the way), and then following each stage of the cooking of each dish and cooking your own Thai food under your chef's guidance.
Isan Food at Rice Paddy Villa
The food of Northeast Thailand has a well-deserved reputation for being spicy and tangy, with a particular piquancy, but it equally offers unspiced dishes redolent of Asian barbecues. The food in northeast Thailand is in fact much more akin to Lao food, although villagers will eat both their home grown dishes and more traditional Thai food from the other regions of the kingdom.
Isan specialties include spicy beef, chicken or pork salads with finely chopped meat and a plethora of fresh herbs, a wide array of spicy beef dishes, freshly prepared green papaya salad, charcoal grilled and marinated chicken with a spicy dip, Isan sausages, soups infused with herbs or bamboo shoots, and a wide variety of fish dishes. On special occasions, an entire suckling pig may be spit roast for several hours until the golden skin is thin and crispy and the meat succulent and juicy.
Thai Food at Rice Paddy Villa
More commonplace Thai food dishes include spicy prawn soup; green, red and yellow curries with chicken, pork, beef or prawns; dishes wok fried with fresh Thai basil; soups with coconut and galangal; satay or marinated meat skewers; a wide array of noodle dishes, varying from the acclaimed "Pad Thai" to soups and salads; fried rice and stuffed omelettes, and many dishes prepared with wok-seared vegetables.
At breakfast many Thais will eat a congee or rice soup, or perhaps a bowl of noodles. At the villa, you are welcome to try these excellent dishes, or to opt for a more traditional Western breakfast, accompanied by freshly squeezed juices and a pot of wafting, brewed coffee or hot tea.
Whilst lunch in the villages may be taken individually by those working or travelling, most Thai meals are taken communally, with diners sitting around a woven grass mat on the floor, centred upon which are a variety of dishes to which the diners help themselves. The indigenous accompaniment is the staple sticky rice, steamed and served from a large wicker woven basket, and dipping sauces to add extra zest.
The importance of food in Thai culture, and the inherent generosity of the Thais, is underlined by a typical greeting in the country, whereby friends who have just crossed each others' path will ask "Have you eaten yet?" ("Kin Khao Ruuyang?) Whilst the answer is a literal reply, the underlying theme is that one should always show concerns for the stomach of one's fellows.
The rice has been harvested and we are looking forward to the New Year.