June 19, 2023
As a Thai and the owner of My Thai Curry, a renowned curry paste company, I have a deep understanding of Thai cuisine. For a long time, there was no doubt in my mind that green curry packs the heat, while red curry is milder. However, times change, and the perception of spiciness has evolved, especially outside of Thailand.
The Changing Spice Levels
In traditional Thai cuisine, curries are served with an appropriate level of heat for that specific dish. This holds true in Thailand, where the spice level is carefully balanced. However, many Thai restaurants overseas have adopted a different approach. Diners are often asked, “How spicy would you like your curry?” The chefs then adjust the spiciness by adding green chilies or chili powder. As someone deeply connected to the authenticity of Thai curry, I can’t help but feel a tinge of disapproval towards this practice. To me, it seems sacrilegious and detrimental to the essence of the curry itself. But I can’t deny its prevalence and impact on people’s perception of spiciness.
Unraveling the Spicy Mystery
Curiosity struck me when I discovered that in the West, the belief is often the opposite. Many people confidently assert that Thai red curry is the spiciest, while green curry is milder. As a Thai, this notion was perplexing. Why would anyone think this way when I, and countless other Thais, have always known the opposite to be true? Intrigued, I turned to the internet in search of answers. And what I found shook me up.
Sorting Fact from Fiction
I stumbled upon numerous sites spreading this misconception, parroting the same information again and again. It seemed like an incorrect statement endlessly repeated, creating confusion rather than clarity. It was a blogger friend who demystified the situation for me. Apparently, some of these larger websites prioritize advertising revenue over accurate information. They hire individuals who can compile data and make it seem as though they know what they’re talking about, even when they don’t. The result? A deluge of erroneous statements that perpetuates confusion. Suddenly, it became clear why so many people were struggling to find the right answer.
The Authentic Thai Way
To add to the confusion, I came across recipes for Thai red curry that seemed far removed from our traditional methods. One prominent Google result advocated for using fresh red chilies and even tomato ketchup in the curry paste! I couldn’t decide which was more shocking – the use of fresh chilies or the inclusion of tomato ketchup. In our authentic Thai red curry paste, we never use fresh red chilies. Instead, we opt for dried red chilies that we soak. This process extracts the harshness and enhances the flavor, allowing us to use a higher quantity of chilies to create a richer curry. Even without the tomato ketchup, many recipes still called for fresh red chilies. Perhaps it’s because they are more readily available, but it’s important to note that a Thai red curry prepared this way cannot truly be called “Thai.”
So, the truth remains unchanged in traditional Thai cuisine – green curry is unquestionably hotter than red curry. Additionally, the heat levels can vary even within regions, with the southern Thai green curry known for its fiery kick thanks to the inclusion of Bird’s Eye chilies. These genuine bird chilies are much smaller and spicier than the varieties mislabeled as such in UK supermarkets.
To enhance your understanding of Thai cuisine, allow me to invite you to experience genuine Thai flavors at BDK Restaurant. Our commitment to authenticity ensures that you’ll savor the true essence of Thai curries. Visit our website BDK Restaurant to explore our menu and immerse yourself in the vibrant world of Thai cuisine.