Angled Loofah: Thai name is Buap LiamAlso known as silk gourd, silk squash or Chinese okra, this dark green vegetable looks like a long, thin courgette (zucchini) or a very large okra pod, and has angular ridges down its length. A close relative, the smooth loofah is paler in colour, larger and more cylindrical, with a slightly thicker base. Both have a very mild taste, similar to cucumber, which can be used in its place in most cooked dishes. The gourds are eaten young, while they are still sweet. They become unpleasantly bitter as they mature. Loofah is used in stir-fries and soups, and is often boiled and eaten with nam phrik.
Apple Aubergines: Thai name is Makheua These small round aubergines are pale green, yellow or white. They are eaten raw with the ubiquitous chilli sauce, nam phrik, or cooked in curries. They have little flavour, but when raw have an interesting texture. They discolour rapidly once cut, so drop’ them into salted water if you are preparing them in advance.
Baby Corn: Thai name is Khao Phod OnBaby corn refers to whole, entirely edible cobs of immature corn, no more than 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) long. Corn is a popular vegetable in Thailand. For stir-fries and soups, Thais prefer baby corn cobs, which have a musty sweet flavour, as well as a crunchy texture. They are available fresh and canned. Fresh baby corn cobs are best eaten soon after purchase but can be stored for up to 1 week in the salad drawer of the refrigerator.
Bitter Melon: Thai name is Ma RaTropical, annual vine has bitter taste Culinary use: Soup, curry, and salad. (If you don’t like the bitter taste, parboil with salt and rinse 2-3 times before cooking.) The Thais belive that it is very good for the kidneys and blood. Look for small and firm specimens that are still green when buying. Medicinal use: Mild laxative, antipyretic gargle the fruit juice to relieve an aphthous ulcer.
Chinese Chives: Thai name is Kui chaiThese pungent herbs look more like long, flat spring onions than their Western equivalent. The leaves are peppery, crunchy and chewy. They are eaten raw and cooked and are prized for both their texture and flavour. Spring onions can be used as a substitute but they will not have the distinctive garlic taste of Chinese chives.
Chinese Mustard Green: Thai name is Phak Kwang Tung JeenThe Chinese name for this type of cabbage is choi sum. It is widely grown in the West and is often available from farmers’ markets, as well as Asian food stores. The stalks, leaves and yellow flowers of this plant are all edible and have a delicate flavour. The cabbage is usually cut into short lengths and used in soups and noodle dishes, but it may also be stir-fried.
Chinese Radish: Thai name is Hua Chai Tau or Hua Phak KatThais value this vegetable, believing that it aids digestion, cools the body and improves blood circulation. Also called giant white radish or winter radish, it is a long white root that resembles a slender, smooth-skinned parsnip in appearance. It can be up to 40cm/l6in long, although the Thai variety is often considerably smaller. Large specimens tend to be fibrous and should be avoided. When raw, the flavour of mooli is cool, sharp and peppery, and the texture is crisp. Thais don’t often eat it this way, but the grated flesh is sometimes used to tenderize seafood. When the vegetable is cooked, the characteristic texture is retained, but the flavour becomes quite sweet.
Cucumber: Thai name is Taeng KwaCucumber, taeng kwa, Cucumis sativus, has short fruits about 8 em long which are crispiest while still green and white, before yellowing. A larger type, taeng ran, are also eaten.
Eggplants: Thai name is Makheua MoungEggplants are tender, mildly earthy, sweet vegetable-fruits covered with tough, shiny skin, which may be peeled or left unpeeled in grilled or long-cooked dishes. They vary in color from the familiar purple to red and from yellow to white. The most common variety is the large, purple globe eggplant, but many markets also carry the slender, purple Asian eggplant, which is more tender and has fewer, smaller seeds. When cooked, all eggplants have a mild flavor and tender, creamy flesh. Look for plump, glossy, heavy eggplants with taut skin and no bruises or scratches. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 2 days. Eggplants are also known as aubergine and in Italy as melanzana.
Long Eggplant: Thai name is Makhua YaewThis elongated variety is similar in appearance and flavour to Japanese long baby aubergines. However, the Thai ones are usually pale green, but can also be purple or white. These aubergines are usually served grilled (broiled) or in green curries.
Pea Aubergines: Thai name is Makreu PuangThese pea-size berries, which grow in small clusters, have a bitter flavour that is a good foil to the rich ness of the spicy curries in which they are most often found. They are also used as a flavouring for nam phrik.
Pumpkins: Thai name is Fug TongPumpkins are large, round winter squashes with orange skins and flesh. The variety known as the sugar pumpkin has sweet flesh. In Thai cooking, it is commonly used in dessert but is also used in savory dishes. Canned pumkin pur?e is widely available and can easily be made from fresh pumpkin.
Shiitake Dried Mushroom: Thai name is Het Hom Hang It is also known as Shiitake mushroom. It has no flavor but is used for its texture. It is available in dried form, and looks like dried, black, wrinkled paper. When soaked in water for about 10-20 minutes, it swells and resembles wavy seaweed or jelly. Stored in its dried form, it will keep indefinitely.
Shiitake Mushroom: Thai name is Het HomFresh shiitake mushrooms are available, but Thai cooks prefer to use them dried as they have a stronger flavour and more texture. Both types are available in supermarkets and Asian stores. Dried shiitake mushrooms must be reconstituted in water before beingused. The stems are usually discarded and the caps sliced or chopped for adding to soups or stews. The soaking water can be strained and used in a soup or stock as it takes on the flavour of the shiitake. The dried mushrooms will keep well if stored in a sealed plastic tub or bag in a cool, dry place.
Spring Onions: Thai name is Ton-HomSoring onions are a variety of onion harvested immature before the bulb has formed. Both the green leaves and white bulbs are used raw or cooked for their mild but still pronounced onion flavor. Spring onions are also known as scallions or spring onions. Spring onions are used in Thai cooking for stir-fries and in soups. They are also popular for garnishes, either sliced or cut into tassels, then curled in iced water.
Straw Mushroom: Thai name is Hed FangThese delicate, sweet flavoured mushrooms have acquired their English name because of the method of cultivation on beds of straw. They look like miniature helmets and are the most popular variety of mushroom in Thai cooking. Straw mushrooms are used extensively in soups, salads and curries, and taste particularly good with prawns (shrimp) and crab meat. Canned straw mushrooms are widely available from Asian stores and many supermarkets. They have neither the exquisite flavour nor the texture of the fresh mushrooms, but can be an acceptable substitute. Fresh straw mushrooms are highly perishable and so are not often available in the West. If you do locate them, use them as soon as possible after purchase.
Swamp Cabbage: Thai name is Phak BoongThis popular leafy plant, also known as water convolvulus or water spinach, is actually a herb. It grows in marshy areas, near rivers and canals, and is related to the morning glory that riots over walls and fences in many European gardens. It has slender, hollow green stems and thin ovate green leaves which are pointed at the ends. In some parts of Asia, the stems are pickled, but in Thailand, only the leaves and tender shoots are eaten. The flavour is similar to that of spinach. In Thailand, the tender tips are often eaten raw, on their own or with other raw vegetables, and served with a selection of hot sauces. When cooked, the stem tips stay firm, but the leaves rapidly become limp.Swamp Cabbage is highly perishable and must be used promptly.
Sweet Chilli: Thai name is Pkrik WaanSweet chillis are sweet-fleshed, bell-shaped members of the chilli family, enjoyed raw or cooked. Unripe green and ripened red or yellow varieties are the most common. Pale yellow, orange, and purple-black types are also available. Italian chillis are slightly sweeter and more slender than regular chillis. Before use, bell peppers must have their indigestible seeds removed. Often the chillis are roasted, which loosens their skins for peeling and enhances their natural sweetness.
Taro: Thai name is PuakThis root grows wild on the banks of streams in Thailand and is particularly popular in the north of the country.The swollen tuber is full of starch and is eaten in the same manner as potatoes. The young leaves can also be eaten. Wear gloves when peeling taros.
Twisted Cluster Bean: Thai name is Sa TawThe seeds of a huge tree that grows in southern Thailand, these beans are about the size of broad (fava) beans. The bright green pods that house them are flat and wavy. The beans themselves have a peculiar smell and nutty taste that give a distinctive flavour to regional dishes. The beans are usually eaten as a vegetable, and they taste good in a sweet-and-sour stir-fry. They are also sometimes roasted and eaten with nam phrik, and are made into pickles.
Yard Long Beans: Thai name is Tua Fugk YaewThese are long, deep green ,stringless beans which grow up to 30-60 cm. Cut in short lenghts, they are used in stir-fries, curries and sometimes soups, They have less flavour than other types of green beans but are easier to prepare.
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