In Thailand, chillies are frequently used instead of the pepper more commonly found in European cooking. Chillies contain the "spicy substance" capsaicin, which helps to activate the metabolism and stimulates the overall mood and well-being. In addition, chillies are considered a natural antibiotic with an anti-inflammatory effect.
Coconut milk contains only half as many calories and only half as much fat as cream. It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Many polyunsaturated fatty acids cannot be produced by the body itself and therefore have to be provided via the food intake. They are also known as vitamin F, essential fatty acids or "good" types of fat.
Coriander is also known as the parsley of Asia and is used in many Thai dishes. Its Thai name is "pak chi".
The basic types of curry paste are red, green, yellow and phanaeng. The main ingredients of all types of curry paste are chillies, shallots, garlic, lemon grass and various spices. The colour of the curry paste is a result of which colours and quantities of chillies are being used. A curry paste is the base of every Thai curry, and depending on its taste, it goes well with vegetables, meat, fish or fruit.
Fish sauce is the salt of Asia. This liquid condiment is made from fermented anchovies and is used to season dishes without leaving a strong lingering fish taste.
Galangal or galingale is ginger's "little brother" and has an invigorating and digestive effect on the body. In African cultures, it is used as a medicine to treat various little ailments, and it is said to enhance the libido.
Ginger is considered an all-round "magic" health agent. The essential oils it contains are an ideal cure for any symptoms of a cold, but its anti-oxidant effect also helps to detox organs such as the liver, and it cleanses the system. Thus, the ginger root is versatile and has an invigorating and stimulating effect on the blood circulation.
The leaves of the kaffir lime are an essential ingredient of many Thai dishes and give the food a lemony-fresh touch. They give the traditional Tom Yum Gung soup its characteristic base taste.
Lemon grass has a fresh and lemony taste, with a tinge of rose fragrance. It lends an especially well-rounded aroma to any dishes it is used for. Its essential oils have a stablizing effect on body and mind.
Massaman curry is originally from India and is characterized by the wonderful fragrance of cumin, one of its ingredients. A special feature of massaman curry is that the main ingredients like meat or vegetables are cooked in the massaman stock, whereby they attain a very special aroma.
Thai rice comes in three basic types: sticky rice, broken rice and long grain rice. In our cha chã restaurants, we use a mixture of the latter two types in equal parts, because this combination provides a light, but nevertheless slightly sticky consistency and a well-rounded aroma. Broken rice is the result of the milling process, which is used to remove the outer skin of the rice grain and to polish it using water pressure to give it a smooth and white surface. In the process, the rice becomes sticky, because the open surface of the grain releases starch, which is a desired effect. Long grain rice (fragrant rice) is the type most commonly used in Asia, while broken rice was considered "the poor people's rice" for a long time. By combining these two types of rice, we create our cha chã rice mixture, which is served after it has been gently steamed.
Rice noodles are produced from rice flour and thus, they are a healthy and gluten-free alternative to pasta made of durum wheat. Rice noodles are a traditional ingredient in Asian cooking and apart from that, they only contain about half of the carbohydrates of conventional pasta.
Seitan consists of wheat protein and is traditionally used in Asia as a meat replacement, making it a perfect ingredient for vegetarian dishes. Seitan is produced from pure gluten and can, unlike tofu, be used in a similar way as meat.
Sesame oil is made from roasted sesame seeds by a process of cold pressing. It is used as a separating agent and as a mild perfume for dishes.
Soy sauce consists of fermented soy beans and is traditionally used for seasoning Asian dishes. The soy beans are brewed together with water and grain. The longer they are brewed, the lighter and rounder they become. Dark soy sauce contains more salt. Soy sauce is also considered a natural flavour enhancer.
The brownish meat of the tamarind fruit is delicious. It has a sour-sweet taste and this is why it is frequently used as a replacement for lemons. There are two different types of tamarind, sweet and sour. Tamarind is used in appetizers as well as main dishes and desserts.
Thai basil is considered the king of thai herbs. Apart from its incomparable taste, basil (derived from the Greek word "basileus" for "king") has a calming, toning and relaxing effect. The Thais use three different types of basil: In our cha chã restaurants, we exclusively use "bai horapha" (sweet Thai basil), because it is the tastiest and ideally complements our Thai compositions.
The mangos you find in the supermarket are harvested before they are ripe, and then continue ripening while they are being shipped to Europe in refrigerated containers. Due to their lack of exposure to sunshine, they contain significantly less vitamins and taste. The Thai mangos we use are only harvested after they have fully ripened, which makes them incredibly tasty and rich in valuable content substances. Mangos strengthen the body's cells against free radicals (free water in the body, which is responsible for cell aging), and the vitamin C they contain strengthens the connective tissue. Moreover, mangoes serve to prevent infections and colds (by providing vitamins), and they have a positive effect on the body's vital system.