Chef Anousone's sister goes out to the Hmong farmers markets at six each morning to buy bell peppers, greens, jalapenos and other fresh produce and herbs picked earlier that same morning. She then delivers them to the restaurant and by 11:00 they're in the buffet and on your plate. Thai cooking prizes fresh vegetables and nutritionists have found many health benefits in the herbs used by Thai chefs.
Raw foods in Thai cuisine supply valuable nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and nutrients from organically-grown tofu and added benefits from a diversity of special herbs. Each is excellent for supporting various aspects of health, such as the immune system, circulation and digestion.
Here are some of Thailand’s most common herbs and their health benefits:
- Alteratives cleanse and purify the blood and tend to restore normal health: cilantro, coriander, garlic and turmeric.
- Stimulants increase internal heat and strengthen metabolism and circulation: cardamom, cloves, garlic, ginger, galangal (relative of ginger), tamarind and tumeric.
- Expectorants promote discharge of mucus and phlegm from the throat and lungs: cardamom, cloves, garlic, ginger and kaffir lime leaves.
- Carminatives relieve intestinal gas and pain and encourage muscle contractions: cilantro, cardamom, coriander, cloves, garlic and lime leaves.
- Diuretics support kidney and bladder function while increasing urination: cilantro, coriander and lemon grass.
Fresh does taste better, fresh vegetables are better for you, and in Minnesota summer is the best time to eat locally.