Chili Peppers

They're what a lot of people think of first when the topic of Thai food comes up: Those teeny tiny innocuous looking chilies that don’t seem like they could do much harm, but those that have carelessly eaten one on that assumption know better. David Thompson, in his compendium on Thai Food, refers to them as ‘scuds’ for their ability to sneak up on you and wreak complete destruction on your tongue.

Chiang Mai Chilies

The Chiang Mai chili is a unique strain to the north. It is something of a combination between the relatively mild banana chili and the spicy spur chili. It has a curved shape like the spur, but the skin is more irregular like a banana chilli. When green, the chili has the lime color of the less spicy chili, but unlike the banana chili the Chiang Mai chili will turn red when fully ripe. However, the Chiang Mai chili is rarely allowed to fully ripen, since the primary use of the chili is to make one of Chiang Mai's most well known dishes, a fiery hot chili dip.

Cashew Chicken Gai Pat Met Ma-muang

As a seemingly obvious "Chinese" import, cashew chicken often gets dismissed as not really a "Thai" dish, but it definitely helps to balance out a meal that already has many spicy dishes. Although they make the dish look spicy, the dried chillies usually don't impart much heat to the rest of the ingredients. In Thailand, this dish is almost always mild, with little or no spiciness. Since they can be a bit tough, most people just push the chillies to the side of their plate and don't eat them.

Dried Chilies Prik Haeng

Although you may not always see them, dried chilies are found in a large proportion of Thai recipes, especially in the north. Drying is a traditional way of preserving foods in Thailand that goes way back into the pre-history of the region. Drying is the best way to preserve foods in the humid air of the tropics. It was only natural that the technique was applied to chilies when they were introduced in the 17th century.


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