Every corner of the world has its own unique fruits and vegetables which are native. The desert has cactus’s, Mediterranean areas produce olives and so on. By using specific local produce, you can make old food taste better or create new dishes altogether. The fruits and vegetables of Thailand present unique opportunities for home and master chefs alike to experiment and try new and exciting dishes. Considering how much can be done with common and simple fruits like apples, you might be surprised how much a cook could do with the homegrown foods of Thailand.
The mangosteen is just one example of exotic fruit from Thailand. It is almost a perfect sphere and looks almost like a giant berry. Thailand is much more famous for its tangerines though. These little orange alternatives are super sweet and succulent. People everywhere love them. The durian is another fruit from Thailand which you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world. The smell of it fresh is a bit perturbing but if you allow this thing to rot, you could clear out a whole house with its odor. They do taste pretty good though.
Different Thai Vegetables
As for vegetables, there are some from Thailand you have no doubt never seen before. Galanga is similar in texture and appearance to ginger but the flavor isn’t nearly so fiery. It’s a very popular addition to soups for its satisfying, crisp nature. Pac Beow is an edible leaf eaten all over Southeast Asia. The next time you would try a salad full of lettuce, you might instead use this. The taste and smell of Cha-om has been described as unusual even by natives of Thailand who love to eat this green lentil-like vegetable cooked up with eggs and meat.
Thai Edible Flowers
The two flowers that are eaten daily by many Thai’s are the the flowers from the sweet basil plant and of the Banana tree. It is best with the basil flower to pick it while it it is still a bud to avoid a woody stem, these are significantly more potent than the common leaves. They are also ground up and used in fresh Thai Green Curry Paste. The Banana flower is an essential ingredient to an authentic Pad Thai noodle dish, again you use the bud before it matures, it is bitter to taste, but works perfectly with the sweet noodles. The majority of Thai flowers are both stunning and edible, one of the most spectacular is the Blue Aunchan Flower, that is almost a purple, the flowers of melons are also used extensively, commonly a large yellow or orange flower. Some of the high end or specialty florist can make edible flower arrangements that also look great, another idea is to seek out an elderly Thai person who regularly scavengers the jungle, that is how I learned about edible Thai flowers.
These are just a few examples of fruits, vegetables and flowers in Thailand which you probably haven’t tried yet. There are many more, too many to list them all here in fact, so the best way for you to learn about them is probably to try these foods for yourself. If you can’t find them at your usual grocery store, check at specialty markets or smaller, locally owned stores. There are usually a few ethnic food markets in most major cities but you might be out of luck if you live out in the middle of nowhere. You must try them!
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The Author John Shoane is an expert of Thai orchids and designs flowers and trains the staff of Gogo Florist in Bangkok. He is passionate about all thing plants and can be contacted at G+.