Yam Is More than a Sweet Potato

Ubiquitous on any Thai menu is the word yam, which refers to dishes flavored predominantly with lime juice and chilli. These can be salad like affairs based on meat, seafood or even certain noodles, or soups such as the famous sour-hot shrimp soup called torn yam kung (tom yam means “yam-boiled” and refers to soups of this type). At least one dish in this category is essential for any good Thai meal, and the shrimp and squid versions, with their crunchy-textured seafood component, arc recommended. Yam can be quite hot, and those who don’t cart for spicy food should request their dishes toncd down.
Thai cooks arc geniuses with stir-fried dishes, and there arc hundreds to choose from. Here again, Chinese ideas have been adapted. Kai phad med mamuang hitnaphan,
in which pieces of white chicken meat arc quickly stir-fried at high heat with cashew nuts, mushrooms, coarsely chopped onions and dried chilies, is a Chinese idea with a Thai sting to it. Phad khing (“fried with ginger”) recipes arc in the same category.
Phad phed (“fried hot and spicy”) and phad bai kaphrao (“fried with basil leaf”) dishes are more purely Thai. Both arc enormously popular and can be ordered in virtually any Thai restaurant, from roadside stands to elaborate tourist-oriented places. In both types of dishes, chopped meat, chicken or shrimp, or whole shellfish arc stir-fried with pounded chilies and herbs. Often, a fried egg is placed on top.