Thai cuisineThai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Blending elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components. The spiciness of Thai cuisine is well known. As with other Asian cuisines, balance, detail and variety are of great significance to Thai chefs. Thai food is known for its balance of three to four fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter
|Thai Royal Cuisine|
|Kaeng phet pet yang: roast duck in red curry|
Thai meals typically consist of either a single dish or rice (khao in Thai) with many complementary dishes served concurrently and shared by all. It is customary to serve more dishes than there are guests at a tableThai food was traditionally eaten with the right hand but it is now generally eaten with a fork and a spoon; this was introduced as part of Westernization during the reign of King Mongkut, Rama IV. It was his brother, Vice-king Pinklao, who, after watching demonstration of Western dining etiquette by American missionary Dr. D. B. Bradley, chose only the Western-style fork and spoon from the whole set of table silverware to use at his own dining table. The fork, held in the left hand, is used to push food into the spoon. The spoon is then brought to the mouth. A traditional ceramic spoon is sometimes used for soups. Knives are not generally used at the table. Chopsticks are used primarily for eating noodle soups, but not otherwise used.
It is common practice for Thais and hill tribe peoples in north and northeast Thailand to use sticky rice as an edible implement by shaping it into small, and sometimes flattened, balls by hand which are then dipped into side dishes and eaten. Thai-Muslims frequently eat meals with only their right hands.
Thai meal in a village temple
Thai food is often served with a variety of sauces (nam chim) and condiments. These may include phrik nam pla/nam pla phrik (consisting of fish sauce, lime juice, chopped chilies and garlic), dried chili flakes, sweet chili sauce, sliced chili peppers in rice vinegar, sriracha sauce, or a spicy chili sauce or paste called nam phrik. In most Thai restaurants, diners can find a selection of Thai condiments, often including sugar or MSG, available on the dining table in small containers with tiny spoons. With certain dishes, such as khao kha mu (pork trotter stewed in soy sauce and served with rice), whole Thai peppers and raw garlic are served in addition. Cucumber is sometimes eaten to cool the mouth after particularly spicy dishes. They often also feature as a garnish, especially with one-dish meals. The plain rice, sticky rice or the khanom chin (Thai rice noodles) served alongside a spicy curry or stir-fry, tends to counteract the spiciness.
A Thai family meal will normally consist of rice with several dishes which form a harmonious contrast of ingredients and preparation methods. The dishes are all served at the same time. A meal at a restaurant for four people could, for instance, consist of fish in dry red curry (chuchi pla), a spicy green papaya salad with dried prawns, tomatoes, yardlong beans and peanuts (som tam thai), deep fried stuffed chicken wings (pik kai sot sai thot), a salad of grilled beef, shallots and celery or mint (yam nuea yang), spicy stir fried century eggs with crispy basil (khai yiao ma phat kraphao krop), and a non-spicy vegetable soup with tofu and seaweed (tom chuet taohu kap sarai) to temper it all
|Phrik nam pla is served with nearly every meal|
Pastes and sauces
Kapi, Thai shrimp paste, is a combination of fermented ground shrimp and salt. It is used, for instance, in red curry paste, in the famous chili paste called nam phrik kapi and in rice dishes such as khao khluk kapi.
|Several types of kapi (shrimp paste) and |
bags of pla ra (fish sauce) sold at a market
|khao khluk kapi|
The soy sauces which are used in Thai cuisine are of Chinese origin and the Thai names for them are (wholly or partially) loanwords from the Teochew language: si-io dam (dark soy sauce), si-io khao (light soy sauce), and taochiao (fermented whole soy beans). Namman hoi (oyster sauce) is also of Chinese origin. It is used extensively in vegetable and meat stir-fries
Vegetables, herbs and spices
|Fresh herbs, spices and vegetables|
at Thanin Market, Chiang Mai
Besides kaffir lime leaves, several other tree leaves are use in Thai cuisine such as cha-om, the young feathery leaves of the Acacia pennata tree, used cooked in omelettes, soups and curries and raw in salads of the Northern Thai cuisine. Banana leaves are often used as packaging for ready-made food or as steamer cups such as in ho mok pla, a spicy paté made with fish and coconut milk. Banana flowers are also used in Thai salads or minced and deep fried in to patties. The leaves and flowers of the neem tree (sadao) are also eaten blanched.Five main chilies are generally used as ingredients in Thai food. One chili is very small (about 1.25 centimetres (0.49 in)) and is known as the hottest chili: phrik khi nu suan ("garden mouse-dropping chili"). The slightly larger chili phrik khi nu ("mouse-dropping chili") is the next hottest. The green or red phrik chi fa ("sky pointing chili") is slightly less spicy that the smaller chilies. The very large phrik yuak, which is pale green in color, is the least spicy and used more as a vegetable. Lastly, the dried chilies: phrik haeng are spicier than the two largest chilies and dried to a dark red color.
Other typical ingredients are the several types of eggplant (makhuea) used in Thai cuisine, such as the pea-sized makhuea phuang and the egg-sized makhuea suai, often also eaten raw. Although broccoli is often used in Asian restaurants in the west in phat thai and rat na, it was never actually used in any traditional Thai food in Thailand and is still rarely seen in Thailand. Usually in Thailand, khana is used, for which broccoli is a substitute. Other vegetables which are often eaten in Thailand are thua fak yao (yardlong beans), thua ngok (bean sprouts), no mai (bamboo shoots), tomatoes, cucumbers, phak tam leung (Coccinia grandis), kha na (Chinese kale), phak kwangtung (choy sum), cha om (tender Acacia pennata leaves), sweet potatoes (used more as a vegetable), a few types of squash, phakatin (Leucaena leucocephala), sataw (Parkia speciosa), tua phū (Winged beans) and kapōt corn.
|Het fang (straw mushrooms) for sale at a market|
Thai cuisine doesn't have very specific breakfast dishes. Very often, a Thai breakfast can consist of the same dishes which are also eaten for lunch or dinner. Fried rice, noodle soups and steamed rice with something simple such as an omelette, fried pork or chicken, are commonly sold from street stalls as a quick take-out. The following dishes tend to be eaten only for breakfast:
- Chok - a rice porridge commonly eaten in Thailand for breakfast. Similar to the rice congee eaten in other parts of Asia.
- Khao khai chiao - an omelet (khai chiao) with white rice, often eaten with a chili sauce and slices of cucumber.
- Khao tom - a Thai style rice soup, usually with pork, chicken or shrimp.
- Khanom chin nam ngiao - A speciality of Northern Thailand, it is Thai fermented rice noodles served with pork blood tofu in a sauce made with pork broth and tomato, crushed fried dry chilies, pork blood, dry fermented soy bean, and dried red kapok flowers.
|Khao man kai|
- Khanom chin namya - round boiled rice noodles topped with a fish based sauce and eaten with fresh leaves and vegetables.
- Khao khluk kapi - rice stir-fried with shrimp paste, served with sweetened pork and vegetables.
- Khao man kai - rice steamed in chicken stock with garlic, with boiled chicken, chicken stock and a dipping sauce.
- Khao phat - One of the most common rice dishes in Thailand. Usually with chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, crab or coconut or pineapple, or vegetarian (che (Thai: เจ).
- Khao phat American - American fried rice that can be found only in Thailand.
- Khao phat kai - fried rice with chicken.
- Khao phat mu - fried rice with pork.
- Khao phat pu - fried rice with crab meat.
- Khao phat kung - fried rice with shrimp.
- Khao phat naem - fried rice with fermented sausage (naem, Thai: แหนม), a typically dish from the Northeast)
- Khao soi - crispy wheat noodles in sweet chicken curry soup (a Northern dish).
- Kuai-tiao nam - rice-noodle soup can be eaten at any time of day; served with many combinations of proteins, vegetables, and spicy condiments. The word kuai-tiao, although originally designating only one type of noodle, the sen yai (wide rice noodles), is used colloquially for all rice noodles in general.
- Phat khi mao - noodles stir-fried with Thai basil.
- Phat si-io - rice noodles (often kuai tiao) stir-fried with si-io dam (thick sweet soy sauce) and nam pla (fish sauce) and pork or chicken.
- Phat thai - rice noodles pan fried with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice or tamarind pulp, chopped peanuts, and egg combined with chicken, seafood, or tofu.
- Kuai-tiao rat na - wide rice noodles in gravy, with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, or seafood.
|Ho mok pla, fish curry paté|
- Chuchi pla kaphong - snapper in chuchi curry sauce (thick red curry sauce)
- Ho mok pla - a paté of fish, spices, coconut milk and egg, steamed in a banana leaf cup and topped with thick coconut cream before serving.
- Kai phat khing - chicken stir-fried with sliced ginger.
- Kaeng khiao wan - called "green curry" in English, it is a coconut curry made with fresh green chillies and flavoured with Thai basil, and chicken or fish meatballs. This dish can be one of the spiciest of Thai curries.
- Kaeng phanaeng - a mild creamy coconut curry with beef (Phanaeng nuea), chicken, or pork. It includes some roasted dried spices similar to Kaeng matsaman.
- Kaeng phet (lit. 'spicy curry') - also known as red curry in English, it is a coconut curry made with copious amounts of dried red chillies in the curry paste.
- Kaeng som (Thai: แกงส้ม) - a hot and sour soup/curry usually eaten together with rice
- Kai phat met mamuang himmaphan - The Thai Chinese version of the Sichuan style chicken with cashews known as Kung Pao chicken, fried with whole dried chilies.
- Miang kham - dried shrimp and other ingredients wrapped in cha plu leaves; often eaten as a snack or a starter.
- Phak bung fai daeng - stir fried morning-glory with yellow bean paste..
- Phat phrik - usually beef stir fried with chilli, called Nuea phat phrik (Thai: เนื้อผัดพริก).
- Pla nueng manao - steamed fish with a spicy lime juice dressing.
- Pla sam rot - literally "Three flavours fish": deep fried fish with a sweet, tangy and spicy tamarind sauce.
- Pu cha - a mixture of cooked crab meat, pork, garlic and pepper, deep fried inside the crab shells and served with a simple spicy sauce, such as Sri Rachaa sauce, sweet-hot garlic sauce, nam phrik phao (Thai: น้ำพริกเผา, roasted chilli paste), nam chim buai (Thai: น้ำจิ้มบ๊วย, plum sauce), or in a red curry paste, with chopped green onions. It is sometimes also served as deep fried patties instead of being fried in the crab shell.
- Suki - a Thai variant of the Chinese hot pot.
- Thot man - deep fried fishcake made from knifefish (Thot man pla krai, Thai: ทอดมันปลากราย) or shrimp (Thot man kung, Thai: ทอดมันกุ้ง).
- Tom chuet wun sen or Kaeng chuet wunsen - a clear soup with vegetables and wunsen (cellophane noodles made from mung bean).
- Tom kha kai - hot spicy soup with coconut milk, galangal and chicken.
- Tom yam - hot & sour soup with meat. With shrimp it is called Tom yam goong or Tom yam kung (Thai: ต้มยำกุ้ง), with seafood (typically shrimp, squid, fish) Tom yam thale (Thai: ต้มยำทะเล), with chicken Tom yam kai (Thai: ต้มยำไก่).
- Yam - general name for any type of sour salad, such as those made with glass noodles (Yam wunsen, Thai: ยำวุ้นเส้น), with seafood (Yam thale, Thai: ยำทะเล), or grilled beef (Yam nuea Thai: ยำเนื้อ). The dressing of a "Yam" will normally consist of shallots, fish sauce, tomato, lime juice, sugar, chilies and Thai celery (khuenchai, Thai: ขึ้นฉ่าย) or coriander.
- Yam pla duk fu - crispy fried catfish with a spicy, sweet-and-sour, green mango salad.
The cuisine of Northeastern Thailand generally feature dishes similar to those found in Laos, as Isan people historically have close ties with Lao culture and speak a language that is generally mutually intelligible with the Lao language.
|Som tam (papaya salad), kai yang (grilled chicken) and|
khao niao (sticky rice) is a traditional Lao and Isan combination
|A selection of Northern Thai dishes served as starters|
- Kaeng hang-le - a Burmese influenced stewed pork curry which uses peanuts, dried chilies and tamarind juice in the recipe but containing no coconut milk.
- Kaeng khae - is a spicy northern Thai curry of herbs, vegetables, the leaves of an acacia tree (chaom) and meat (chicken, water buffalo, pork or frog). It also does not contain any coconut milk.
- Kaep mu - deep fried crispy pork rinds, often eaten with nam phrik num. Also eaten as a snack.
- Nam phrik num - a chili paste of pounded large green chilies, shallots, garlic, coriander leaves, lime juice and fish sauce; eaten with steamed and raw vegetables, and sticky rice.
- Nam phrik ong - resembling a thick Bolognese sauce, it is made with dried chilies, minced pork and tomato; eaten with steamed and raw vegetables, and sticky rice.
- Sai ua - a grilled sausage of ground pork mixed with spices and herbs; it is often served with chopped fresh ginger and chilies at a meal. It is also sold at markets in Chiang Mai as a snack.
- Kaeng lueang - a sour spicy yellow curry that does not contain coconut milk, often with fish and vegetables.
- Kaeng matsaman - also known in English as Massaman curry, it is an Indian style curry, usually made by Thai-Muslims, of stewed beef and containing roasted dried spices, such as coriander seed, that are rarely found in other Thai curries.
- Kaeng tai pla - a thick sour vegetable curry made with turmeric and shrimp paste, often containing roasted fish or fish innards, bamboo shoots and eggplant.
- Khua kling - a very dry spicy curry made with minced or diced meat with sometimes yardlong beans added to it; often served with fresh green phrik khi nu (thai chilies) and copious amounts of finely shredded bai makrut (kaffir lime leaves).
- Sate - grilled meat, usually pork or chicken, served with cucumber salad and peanut sauce (actually of Indonesian origin, but now a popular street food in Thailand).
- Khao yam - a rice salad from Southern Thailand.
Fruit forms a large part of the Thai diet and are customarily served after a meal. Although many of the exotic fruits of Thailand may have been sometimes unavailable in Western countries, many Asian markets import such fruits as rambutan and lychees. In Thailand one can find papaya, jackfruit, mango, mangosteen, langsat, longan, pomelo, pineapple, rose apples, durian and other native fruits. Chantaburi in Thailand each year holds the World Durian Festival in early May. This single province is responsible for half of the durian production of Thailand and a quarter of the world production.
The fruit of the tamarind is used to make sour dishes, and palm sugar, made from the sap of certain Borassus palms, is used to sweeten dishes. From the coconut palm comes coconut sugar, coconut vinegar, and coconut milk. The juice of a green coconut can be served as a drink and the young flesh can be eaten.
Apples, grapes, pears and strawberries, which do not traditionally grow in Thailand, have become increasingly popular in recent years.They are being grown locally in the cooler highlands and mountains of Thailand, mainly in the North, but now most are imported from China
Desserts and sweet snacks
Most Thai meals finish with fresh fruit but sometimes a sweet snack will be served as a dessert.
|Khao niao mamuang, mango with sticky rice|
- Cha yen - Thai iced tea
- Krating Daeng - an energy drink and the origin of Red Bull.
- Oliang - a sweet Thai black ice coffee.
- Satho - a traditional rice wine from the Isan region.