1. Measurements & conversions
This All Recipes page has many basic cup to gram conversions for different ingredients. This is the site I use almost exclusively.
I largely use metric + measuring spoons with only a few exceptions, but am gradually including different systems with each recipe. I go by the most intuitive way to measure an ingredient–I’m not very interested in weighing 3 grams of salt unless it is absolutely crucial…
Cup + spoon volumes
I do a lot of converting and scaling down and up and sideways. These are the capacities I use in my calculations:
1 cup = 240 ml (you can obviously work from there, rounding to the nearest whole)
1 tablespoon = 15 ml, or 3 teaspoons
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
It’s important to note the exact volumes; some places stipulate 250 ml = 1 cup and 20 ml = 1 tablespoon, so you could potentially be several tablespoons out when calculating, which particularly matters when baking on a small scale.
2. Equipment, a.ka. I don’t have an electric mixer, can I still make…?
I get it. I don’t ever see myself getting a stand mixer, so it follows some people would never get any mixer at all. For the record, my sleek little hand mixer cost less than £15 from Sainsbury’s and has survived dozens of marshmallow batches. I’ve also happily used a whisk attachments that came with an immersion blender–whatever works for your budget, kitchen, and workflow.
If you don’t want to get an electric mixer, do get a good, sturdy balloon whisk. I didn’t think there’d be a difference until my old balloon whisk literally fell apart after a month of use…
- American buttercream (just butter + icing sugar + flavouring): YES. (Other buttercreams? Hmm, see Genoise sponges below.)
- Butter-based cakes and cookies: YES. Cream butter and sugar by hand with a fork.
- Genoise sponges and other egg-foam based items: MAYBE. Are you strong and game for 15 minutes or more of vigorous hand-whisking? Go for it.
- Marshmallows: NO. MAKE SOMETHING ELSE, PLEASE.
- Meringues and meringue-based items: SEE GENOISE SPONGES.
3. Dietary needs
I’ll try to note as clearly as possible whether something is meat-free, vegetarian, or vegan. Usually, such information will be in the tags under the title of the post.
The use of the ‘meat-free’ tag indicates that a dish does not contain actual animal flesh, but may contain other ingredients which are derived from animals (e.g. fish sauce, chicken stock, most commercial Thai curry pastes).
That way, we can track dishes which are largely vegetable/tofu-based save for the seasonings, which can generally be easily replaced to make it completely vegetarian/vegan.
4. Sourcing ingredients & brands
You can make delicious and recognisable Thai food in a British kitchen without expensive ingredients or equipment. You may need to go out of your way a little to find some ingredients, but the vast majority of stuff can be found in your usual Asian supermarket or ordered online. I always try to think of substitutes or alternative dishes.
Finding an online or brick and mortar shop with the stuff you need
Thai shop + (your area)
Asian supermarket + (your area)
Common ingredients + brands
You don’t need to be loyal to brands; these are all good and simply what I find most often in Asian shops in London, plus it can be helpful to have a brand to look out for.
- Coconut milk: Chaokoh is the only brand I use. Anti-oxidants are fine, but you’ll really want to steer clear of brands with stabilisers and emulsifiers (looking at you, Blue Dragon…).
- Curry paste: Mae Ploy, Nittaya, Aroy-D (this last contains no shrimp paste, so good for vegetarians)
- Fish sauce: Tiparos, Squid is very common and absolutely fine, but I do prefer Tiparos
- Light, dark, and sweet soy sauces, plus salted/fermented yellow bean paste: Healthy Boy
- Oyster sauce: Healthy Boy, Mae Krua
- Thai tea leaves (sometimes labeled Thai Tea Mix, but it shouldn’t contain whitener or sugar): Pantainorasingh, Hand brand
For more information, see the page on the Thai Pantry by Leela Punyaratabandhu at SheSimmers, and the Best Brands and Ingredients by Kasma Loha-Unchit.
I cannot, and do not, promise “authentic” Thai food–or, indeed, British food–that fits everyone’s notions of what authenticity is. I’m unconcerned with fitting into any static definition of authenticity, particularly if that image involves ketchup-doused pad thai or consuming rice off plates with chopsticks, or, on the other end of that horrid spectrum, punishingly long ingredients lists and preparations.
What I do promise is showing you the Thai food I eat. This means Thai dishes made according to commonly accepted tradition and informed by a range of reliable sources.
I’m just one voice amongst many. Thank goodness for that! Most of what I make is the food my Thai parents gave to me at home in Croydon. My parents have spent the last 28 years here and my father is a professional Thai cook.
I’m also very much interested in contemporary Thai home cooking. Friends’ visits, the internet, my parents’ memories of their life in Thailand, and the individual and shared memories of our visits to Thailand inform us about food and culture. The Thai food I make pleases other Thai people and non-Thai people with connections to the country, which is good enough for me.
If I’ve missed something – a detail, a typo, a link, etc., please say something. And if you’ve alternative ingredients to make my recipes suited to those with specific dietary needs, comment on the recipe post or email me: contact AT pearnuallak DOT com.