thai food

The Truth About Authentic Thai Cuisine

Thai Cuisine, well known for its spiciness, is really better characterized by its complex balancing of five distinct flavors—sour, sweet, salty, bitter, spicy—and is the secret to mastering Thai food. Thai cuisine is vast and varied, heavily influenced by regional ingredients, food traditions and the cultures of surrounding countries. For instance, the food of Southern Thailand tends to be very spicy and incorporates a lot of seafood. In other regions, dishes are served with different types of rice—Central Thailand leans toward jasmine rice while sticky rice is a staple of Northeastern Thailand.

During the last week of March, ICC and the National Research Council of Thailand hosted a 3-day series of hands-on classes, workshops and demonstrations promoting authentic Thai cuisine. Throughout the week, the techniques behind Thai cooking were shared to the ICC Community—including chef-instructors, current students and alumni—through the Thai Cuisine to Global Market project. Alumna of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program, Chanchana Siripanwattana, who brought the project back to her alma matter, was excited to help promote her country’s amazing food in NYC.  From ingredients, techniques, unique recipes and cooking processes, read about what we learned in our week of activities below!

The Harmony of Flavors is Important

crispy noodlesThai cuisine is all about balancing the five distinct flavors consistently found among the various dishes—sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy! Typically, a truly authentic dish has at least two of these flavors working together to pack a powerful punch. Many people initially think of Thai food as extremely spicy, but it’s important to know that not all Thai food is created equal!

Cooking Techniques in Thailand Were Learned From Many Countries

Thai cuisine is a melting pot of other culture’s techniques and flavors that, over thousands of years, were adapted to create the country’s distinct food culture. Popular stir-fry dishes came from China, while notable Thai curries were adapted from India’s well known versions. Different areas of Thailand also have vastly different cuisines because of ingredients readily available. The culture of regional villages and cities also vary depending on the influences of neighboring countries. So, if you’re travelling around Thailand, expect to experience new dishes in each place!

It's Common For Food To Be Served at Room Temperature

Unlike Western cuisine where food is served chilled or piping hot, many Thai dishes are served at room temperature! Some say it’s to create a more relaxing dining experience, while others say its to help bring down the spice level in some dishes. Whatever the reason, don’t be surprised if a dish arrives at room temperature—it’s definitely intentional!

The next time you order Thai food, or maybe even journey to Thailand, think about the balancing act of flavors that the chefs aim to achieve, the melting pot of techniques & cultures, as well as the differences in Western cuisine!
About Chanchana Siripanwattana

Chanchana Siripanwattana is a 2011 graduate of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program. Before graduating with her Grande Diplomé, she received a Bachelors of Science in Microbiology from King Mongkut Institute of Technology and Masters of Food Technology from Chulalongkorn University. After spending time in NYC at ICC, Chanchana returned to Thailand to receive her PH. D. in Technopreneurship and Innovation Management from Chulalongkorn University. Now, she is the Head of Culinary Technology and Service at Suan Dusit University and also manages the university’s bakery by developing new products and using local ingredients. She is currently traveling with the Thai Cuisine to Global Market Project to bring the flavors of her home country around the world!

thai cuisine

A Taste of Thailand

Thai Cuisine, well known for its spiciness, is really better characterized by its complex balancing of five distinct flavors—sour, sweet, salty, bitter, spicy—and is the secret to mastering Thai food. Though the ingredients of Southeast Asian cuisine, like fish sauce, may be unfamiliar to some, most are readily on hand and can be used to create exciting flavor profiles. Thai cuisine is vast and varied, heavily influenced by regional ingredients, food traditions and the cultures of surrounding countries. For instance, the food of Southern Thailand tends to be very spicy and incorporates a lot of seafood. In other regions, dishes are served with different types of rice—Central Thailand leans toward jasmine rice while sticky rice is a staple of Northeastern Thailand. So, to really capture the dynamic intricacies of Thai cooking, the International Culinary Center and the National Research Council of Thailand have joined forces to bring the Thai Cuisine to Global Market project to New York!

This March, ICC is hosting a 3-day series of hands-on classes, workshops and demonstrations promoting authentic Thai cuisine to the world. Through this exchange, the project seeks to strengthen the knowledge of Thai cuisine—from ingredients and techniques to regional recipes and cooking processes—and promote authentic Thai dishes to culinary students + instructors, professional chefs and foodies in the US. Join ICC and two celebrated Chefs from Suan Dusit University in Thailand as we journey to Southeast Asia, without ever leaving NYC! They’ll teach us about the complexities of Thai cuisine, and show us how to create, and balance, these flavors in our own kitchens. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the experts—check out the three days of events below!

A Taste of Thailand—Chef Demonstration of Authentic Thai Cuisine

Wednesday, March 27
3:30-5:30pm
ICC Amphitheater

We’re excited to welcome celebrated chefs from the Suan Dusit University in Thailand—Chef Jareuk Sriaroon & Chef Songpol Vithanwattana—accompanied by ICC Alumna, Chanchana Siripanwattana, for an afternoon highlighting the complex flavors of authentic Thai cuisine. Join us for a demonstration to unlock the secrets of Thai Cooking—from working with ingredients found in Southeast Asian countries, to the art of balancing sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy flavors. They’ll share the differences and similarities in different regional dishes of Thailand and explain how local Thai cuisine has adapted influences from surrounding Asian countries into their food. Bringing their expertise to New York for the first time, they’ll demonstrate four traditional Thai dishes—Mee Grob (herb crispy vermicelli), Red Curry with Roasted Duck, Gaeng Som Goong (sour soup with shrimp) and Sago Pudding with Longan & Sweet Corn. Plus, attendees will have the opportunity to taste each of the four dishes and learn how to make these popular Thai dishes in their own kitchens!

Open to ICC Students, Alumni and Staff—no RSVP required. For volunteer opportunities, please contact Natalia Pozzi at npozzi@culinarycenter.com.

Limited seating available to the general public—please RSVP to events@culinarycenter.com to attend.

Private Hands-On Class for ICC Chef Instructors & Alumni

Tuesday, March 26
3:30-5:30pm
201 Kitchen

In this 2-hour hands-on professional development workshop, ICC Chef Instructors & Alumni will have the opportunity to learn the techniques behind two authentic Thai dishes—Gratong Thong (minced chicken in crispy golden cups) and Kanom Jeen Namya (rice noodles with yellow crab curry). Through this workshop, you’ll gain an understanding of how Thai cuisine is influenced by the dishes of other Asian countries and learn firsthand how to balance Southeast Asian flavors in your kitchen.

Note: Please bring your knives & chef coat for the class.

Private Hands-On Class for Current ICC Students

Thursday, March 28
3:30-5:30pm
201 Kitchen

In this 2-hour hands-on cooking class, current ICC students will have the opportunity to experience firsthand how their culinary education can be applied to cuisines from around the world. Chef Instructors from the Suan Dusit University in Thailand will lead the class in cooking two classic Thai favorites—Pad Thai (Thai stir-fried noodles) and Spicy Beef Salad—from start to finish! You’ll learn the techniques behind authentic Thai cuisine and understand how to use ingredients commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking.

Note: Please bring your knives & come in uniform for the class.

MEET THE INSTRUCTORS

Songpol “Park” Vithanwattana

Chef ParkChef Songpol “Park” Vithanwattana received his Bachelor’s degree in Kitchen & Restaurant Management from Dusit Thani College in Bangkok, Thailand before pursuing his MBA in Modern Entrepreneurship from Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok and an MBA in Hospitality Industries from HTMi, Tourism Management Institute in Switzerland.

Chef Vithanwattana’s kitchen experience spans from working as a Commis at the Hotel Sofitel Silom and Centara Grand Bangkok in Thailand before becoming Thai Chef at Ah-hua Restaurant in Zurich, Switzerland. After returning from Switzerland, he became an instructor in Culinary Technology and Service at Suan Dusit University in Thailand. Here, he contributes to the development, planning, and implementation of teaching the next generations of chefs.

Throughout his years, Chef Vithanwattana has won various awards throughout the world. In 2011, he was awarded a gold medal in the Battle of the Chef, 13th Penang International Salon Gastronomique for the meat/ poultry category and awarded the silver medal in the Chef Competition 2016, Taiwan International Food Festival TCAC Culinary Challenge.

Jareuk Sriaroon

chef jareukChef Jareuk Sriaroon began his culinary education in 1999, receiving his certificate in Food Production Operation from Dusit Thani College in Bangkok, Thaliand. He then went on to study hospitality marketing and wine in the Netherlands, as well as hotel management in England.

After his studies, he went on to work in kitchens throughout Bangkok, cooking French cuisine and refining his talents. After his time working in kitchens, he embraced his passion for education to become an instructor at Silpakorn University International College. Then, he became executive producer and host of the documentary Namprik, which celebrated Thai cuisine. Now, he’s continuing his instructor path at Suan Dusit Rajabhat University/ International Culinary School.

During his time cooking, Chef Sriaroon was awarded the title of Official Thai Chef for Thai Food Promotion from the Ruckblick Inoga and the Royal Thai Consulate of Mumbai. He also is a World Chefs Approved Judge by the World Association of Chefs Societies, on the Board of Directors for the Thailand Culinary Academy, and has been a judge in 10+ culinary competitions throughout Thailand and the world.