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Thais like it hot

Thais like it hot – or in other words: there are three tastes in Thai cooking: hot, hotter and the hottest! Well, this is of course a little bit exaggerated, and you do not have to be afraid of damaging the nerves in your mouth or to swallow prophylactic tablets against diarrhea. On the one hand there are various meals, especially noodle dishes, which are prepared less spicy and on the other hand meals for non-Asians (farangs) are cooked very mildly compared to the Thai taste. Furthermore, there are alternative choices such as the mild Chinese cuisine. However, the one who does not give up immediately after the first chilli in the mouth, will enter another culinary world.
For a start we recommend a veritable tom yum soup, which is the most traditional Thai soup. Everybody who comes to Thailand and who loves to have different experiences should try this soup: the first spoon is not so spectacular yet, however, the second spoon sparks the fire in your mouth. You might start to sweat, your eyes water, the nose runs and your only thought will be: water!!! Wrong – a spoonful of rice is much better, or if available have some pieces of cucumbers, watermelons or pineapples. Even a sip of beer helps against the burning in your mouth. And then, suddenly, this indescribable taste is here – some people get addicted to, while a few others will eat at Mc Donald's. If you cannot get this fantastic taste experience at the first time, just try it another time – it could be love at the second bite!
So, what is it that makes tom yam and other Thai dishes so hot? The answer is: chilli!
Almost a dozen different kinds of peppers were introduced in southeast Asia by the Portuguese in the 17th century and since then they are an important ingredient for Thai cuisine. Often several sorts of peppers  used for seasoning at the same time. Chilli is available in different colors, as a powder (be careful!) and fresh. whole or cut in slices in a light brown sauce (nam pla prik).
Prik lueng is yellow to orange colored and it is regarded as the hottest chilli. Prik khi nu and prik yuak are considered to be milder chillies. They are either green or red and they are found in nearly every Thai dish. Prik thai is the Thai word for pepper and it seems that it is rather low-priced in Thailand as it is generously used in cooking.

Besides chillies as important ingredients in the Thai cuisine, many spices and herbs participating to the typical Thai taste: ginger, cardamom, lime, lemongrass, garlic, coconut, basil and especially coriander. The latter is usually sprinkled on the top of many dishes after cooking. The salty taste does not come from the salt shaker but from fish sauce (nam pla) that is placed on every table.

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