Ugh. Soy Oil in Thai food. What a waste!
I did a Thai cookery class yesterday, eager to learn how to cook some yummy (primal) Asian dishes.
I eat Thai food regularly, and I thought it would be awesome to go to market and really learn about the ingredients for sale there. Lots of greens that I don't know how to use or cook... lot's of primal ingredients; live fish, congealed chicken blood, and other organs and animal 'bits'.
Back at the kitchen, I was prepared to be cooking in palm oil, but my teacher threw me a curve ball. She said that only DEEP frying was doing in that, and most frying (in other words everything else) is stir-fryed in soy-bean oil.
I asked her about the more traditional use of lard, and she, and three other Thai's all concurred, that it is very unhealthy... one even suggested that it was dangerous to eat. I asked her what her grandmother used (we were cooking her grandmother's handed-down recipes) and she went quiet, and sort of didn't talk to me for the rest of the day.
I was then forced into making a decision... did I eat what I'd cooked? 7 yummy Thai dishes including, a starter, a curry, a main, a desert.... Knowing full well that soy-bean oil is waaay at the bottom of my *yumm lets eat that* list.
Well, in the interest of learning how to cook, and experience the taste, I did. It's OK, it's a one off and I'm not going to lament falling off the primal wagon, especially when I've been eating Thai food (smothered in same soy-bean oil OUT in restaurants, without even knowing it). I don't feel any ill effects today, thankfully... but it does, sadly, mean an end to my enjoyment of Thai food. All those yummy primal ingredients, fermented fish sauce and shrimp paste, seafood, and meat with greens, and veggies... covered in evil oil!!! It kinda defeats the purpose.
All I can say is... what a waste of an otherwise really healthy cuisine!
I had been under the illusion that a lot of restaurants still used palm oil, but it appears not.
(Well, now at least I can try and made those 7 dishes at home with lard. So I guess it's not all bad.)
That's another reason I rarely eat out, these days: not sure where places get their ingredients; and what they cook them with
I live in Thailand and own a palm oil farm, everyone I know cooks with palm oil. I do use a lot of olive oil but it has to be imported. I want to start pressing my own red palm oil though as the olive oil gets pretty expensive.
I was talking to my girlfriend about a similar topic the other day. I made the point that these days it is impossible to get "real" Thai food. Everyone I know (including restaurants), uses store bought and made sauces- oyster, mushroom, sweet chilli etc. She says that in her Grandmothers day all theses would have been hand made.
This is one of the reasons that I eat out less and less. An Indian restaurant in Guildford, Surrey (UK) that I used to go to has at the bottom of the menu the words "All foods cooked in this restaurant are cooked in GM soy oil" as though it is a badge of honour. Needless to say - I don't go there any more!
And I can't help but assume that many asian restaurants will be buying oils from the same suppliers .. I cook in lard / beef fat / coconut oil at home and am eating here more and more!!
At least you learned how to make some dishes at home where you can use better fats for cooking.
You can still cook whatever Thai dish recipe you learned. Just replace the oil with healthier ones like coconut oil. I love Asian foods. I cook them myself. But I use coconut oil. I don't go for anything that involves deep frying though since all substance in any oil breaks away after you reach the smoke point.