Why does Thai food smell bad?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Why does Thai food smell bad? We will try to explain the reasons why Thai food has a certain smell, and how to neutralize it. 

Why does Thai food smell bad?

Thai food smells bad sometimes because of the fish sauce, or possibly the shrimp paste, which is often an ingredient in Thai chili paste, such as red chili paste, which is used in pad Thai. 

Both fish sauce and shrimp paste are fermented and when cooked, they blow off their bad smell (in an odorous cloud), and after that, they smell rich and appetizing. The bad smell probably means the cook is adding one of these flavorings at the very end of the stir-fry, and not allowing time for the aroma to mellow.

Fish sauce is like salt in European food, although it has a strong smell and is quite offensive when it is heated, alone, or with other ingredients, the smell disappears.

The reason that it is used a lot is that it is very versatile and for few who do not know its characteristics, it is an agent that changes the flavor of itself, and that increases the flavor of the other ingredients with which it is mixed. 

That is, when you add it, it already produces a different flavor, for example, sugar or lime juice, or more like meat broth. More than that, each cooking method brings out a different flavor as well. Grilled or steamed, boiled, sautéed, or fried, all the results come out with a different flavor. Finally, the sauce also changes if it is added before or after cooking.

For example, when preparing soup, such as Pho, combining with the star flavor of aniseed, fennel, clove, and burnt ginger, and onion, then with the flavor of the fish sauce, a subtle salty comes out because they stand out more aroma of meat and spices that this sauce without overlapping the others.

When it comes to marinating meats, their strong odor, strong salty flavor characteristics may not yet have changed. But in a few minutes when the meat touches the hot plate, it is already transforming the aroma, texture, and flavor of the meat itself.

To make the dipping sauce to accompany the Nems (Vietnamese rolls), which does not need to be cooked, it leaves an intense flavor and smell to increase the flavor of the rolls. The rolls without the fish sauce would not turn out as good.

To experiment with using this product, instead of adding a pinch of salt, add a teaspoon of fish sauce and see how the flavor comes out. From there, you can experiment with the other ingredients.

Why does Bangkok smell bad?

Bangkok smells, and it smells of many things. At all hours, the city smells of food. No matter what time it is for breakfast, here the smell of grilled meat, soup, noodles with meat or vegetables, does not stop all day. 

At any time you have them at your disposal. You cannot escape its smell because in Bangkok (and I think that in general, in all of Thailand) it is very typical to eat in street stalls. These are found, for the most part, at the doors of a place or between the road and the sidewalk. Although they hardly have a menu, the food is delicious and you can eat for only 50 bahts, which is just over 1 euro.

But not everything that smells in Bangkok is appetizing, sometimes it smells like rotten food. And, in general, to something more damaging. The Thai capital, which is home to more than 10 million inhabitants, suffers from excess traffic. 

Surely, on your tour of it, you will not miss seeing large traffic jams at any time of the day. Motorcycles, buses, colorful taxis, tuk-tuks, and more cars roam the city at all hours, and their emissions reach your lungs. That, together with the intense heat and humidity, makes walking it according to which areas it is not the most pleasant activity in the world.

Bangkok also has a river, the Chao Phraya River, something that could somehow be used as a small lung within the city. However, it is a dark river, a stressed river. Boats run through it at all hours, well the ‘taxi boats’, the line boats with their stops along the river, tourist boats, cruise ships, and even freight boats, since the river connects with the mountainous areas of the north. 

All these passengers are giving color to the river and, although the majority of the boats are in cheerful and colorful tones, underneath they leave something much darker. Bags of black smoke come out of the engine and try to rise into the atmosphere, however, many do not succeed and fall. Being guilty that the river acquires that sad color.

It’s the fish sauce or possibly shrimp paste, which is often an ingredient in Thai chili paste, such as red chili paste, which is used in pad Thai. 

Both fish sauce and shrimp paste are fermented and when cooked, they blow off their bad smell (in an odorous cloud), and after that, they smell rich and appetizing. The bad smell probably means the cook is adding one of these flavorings at the very end of the stir-fry, and not allowing time for the aroma to mellow.

The bottom line

To neutralize fish sauce, you can prepare white vinegar with a little water in another pan and heat this mixture simultaneously as we heat the fish sauce. The white vinegar and water will evaporate to create a powerful and effective odor sensor. We tried this method with fried fish, and after lunch, there was no smell in the kitchen as if we hadn’t prepared anything!

If you have any comments or questions on the content, please let us know!

References

Allrecipes.com

Tripadvisor.com

Wikipedia.org

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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