Thailand Food and Recipes

Thailand Food
and Recipes
The main food in Thailand is
rice. Everyone has eaten it
since they were born. But we
can't really eat rice alone so
we have to have something
to go with it. There are many
dishes of food to go with rice.
Most of them are hot and
spicy and that is what Thai
food is famous for.
Thai people are used to eating
rice with their meal. Most Thai
people can't have sandwiches for their meal. They call sandwiches a snack. Also,
most Thai people do not sit down to eat a proper meal because they usually eat
when they are hungry, especially kids and teenagers. If you know some Thai
person, you might hear them say "gin khao yung" every time you meet them. It
means "have you eaten yet?" or more precise "have you eaten rice yet?". If you
come to Thailand and stay with a Thai family then be careful you don't put on too
much weight! All of the visitors that have come to stay at our country always go
home weighing more!
"Phrik" in Thai
Chilli is an erect, branched, shrub-like herb with fruits used as
garnishing and flavouring in Thai dishes. There are many different
species. All contain capsaicin, a biolgically active ingredient
beneficial to the respiratory system, blood pressure and heart.
Other therapeutic uses include being a stomachic, carminative and
antiflatulence agent, and digestant.
"Yi - ra" in Thai
Cumin is a small shrubbery herb, the fruit of which contains 2 to 4%
volatile oil with a pungent odour, and which is used as a flavouring
and condimint. Cumin's therapeutic properties manifest as a
stomachic, bitter tonic, carminative, stimulant and astringent.
"Kra - thiam" in Thai
Garlic is an annual herbaceous plant with underground bulbs
comprising several cloves. Dried mature bulbs are used as a
flavouring and condiment in Thai cuisine. The bulbs contain 0.1 to
0.36%garlic oil and organic sulfur compounds. Therapeutic uses
are as antimicrobial, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant,
antiflatulence and cholesterol lowering agents.
"Khing" in Thai
Ginger is an erect plant with thickened, fleshy and aromatic
rhizomes. Used in different forms as a food, flavouring and spice,
Ginger rhisomes contain 1 to 2% volatile oil. Ginger's therapeutic
uses are as a carminative, antinauseant and antiflatulence agent.
GREATER GALANGA (False Glangal , Galangal)
"Kha" in Thai
Greater Galanga is an erect annual plant with aromatic, ginger-like
rhizomes, and commonly used in Thai cooking as a flavouring. The
approximately 0.04 volatile oil content has therapeutic uses as
carminative, stomachic, antirheumatic and antimicrobial agents.
"Maeng-lak" in Thai
Hoary Basil is an annual herbaceous plant with slightly hairy and
pale green leaves, eaten either raw or used as a flavouring, and
containing approximately 0.7% volatile oil. Therapeutic benefits
include the alleviation of cough symptoms, and as diaphoretic and
carminative agents.
(Leech Lime, Mauritus Papeda, Porcupine Orange)
"Ma-krut" in Thai
The leaves, peel and juice of the Kaffir Lime are used as a
flavouring in Thai cuisine. The leaves and peel contain volatile oil.
The major therapeutic benefit of the juice is as an appetiser.
(No Common English Name)
This erect annual plant with aromatic rhizomes and yellow-brown
roots, is used as a flavouring. The rhizomes contain approximately
0.8% volatile oil. The plant has stomachache relieving and
antimicrobial properties, and therapeutic benefits as an antitussive
and antiflatulence agent.
"Ta-khrai" in Thai
This erect annual plant resembles a coarse grey-green grass. Fresh
leaves and grass are used as a flavouring. Lemongrass contains
0.2-0.4 volatile oil. Therapeutic properties are as a diuretic,
emmanagogue, antiflatulence, antiflu and antimicrobial agent.
LIME (Common Lime)
"Ma-nao" in Thai
Lime is used principally as a garnish for fish and meat dishes. The
fruit contains Hesperidin and Naringin, scientifically proven
antiinflammatory flavonoids. Lime juice is used as an appetiser, and
has antitussive, antiflu, stomachic and antiscorbutic properties.
"Sa-ra-nae" in Thai
The fresh leaves of this herbaceous plant are used as a flavouring
and eaten raw in Thai cuisine. Volatile oil contents give the plant
several therapeutic uses, including carminative, mild antiseptic,
local anaesthetic, diaphoretic and digestant properties.
"Phrik-Thai" in Thai
Peper is a branching, perennial climbing plant from whose fruiting
spikes both white and black pepper are obtained. Used as a spice
and condiment, Pepper contains 2 to4% volatile oil. Therapeutic
uses are as carminative, antipyretic, diaphoretic and diuretic
"Ka-phrao" in thai
Sacred Basil is an annual herbaceous plant thai resembles Sweet
Basil but has narrower and oftentimes reddish-purple leaves. The
fresh leaves, which are used as a flavouring, contain approximately
0.5% volatile oil, which exhibus antimicrobial activity, specifically as
a carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant and stomachic.
"Hom, Hom-lek, Hom-daeng" in Thai
Shallots, or small red onions, are annual herbaceous plants.
Underground bulbs comprise garlic-like cloves. Shallot bulbs contain
volatile oil, and are used as flavouring or seasoning agents.
Therapeutic properties include the alleviation of stomach discomfort,
and as antithelmintic, antidiarroheal, expectorant, antitussive,
diuretic and antiflu agents.
TURMERIC(Curcuma, Indian Saffron, Yellow Root)
"Kha-min" in Thai
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, and provides yellow
colouring for Thai food. The rhizomes contain 3 to 4% volatile oil
with unique aromatic characteristics. Turmeric's therapeutic
properties manifest as a carminative, antiflatulence and stomachic.
Snacks and Starters
Thais love to eat and not just at meal times. Hence snacks and starters are often
eaten between meals, at teatime, or at drinking parties as well as at the start of a meal.The
variety of snacks in Thai cuisine reflects the abundance of raw ingredients and the imaginative
use of indigenous herbs and spices.
๐ Spicy Thai Fish Cakes and Cucumber Salad
(Thot Man Pla and Achat)
๐ Chicken Satay and Peanut Sauce.
(Satay Kai and Nam Jim Satay)
๐ Fried Spring Rolls
(Po Pia Thot)
๐ Spicy Salmon Salad, Thai Style
(Lap Salmon)
๐ Marinade for Grilled Skewered Pork (Mu Ping) /
Grilled Chicken Breast Thai Style (Kai Yang)
Soups and Salads
The lack of starch in Thai soups is a unique facet of Thai cuisine. By combining
Thai herbs such as galangal, kaffir lime and lemon grass with clear broth, Thai soups are
refreshing, while the herbs soothe the stomach. Salad dressings (nam yum) differ from
those in the West in that they are not oily and contain no fats of any kind. This makes them
light and delicious, however once tossed they should be eaten immediately.
๐ Thai Prawn Salad
(Phla Kung)
๐ Chicken Coconut Soup
(Tom Kha Kai)
๐ Hot and Sour Soup with Prawns
(Tom Yum Kung)
๐ Carrot or Papaya Salad
(Som Tam)
Main Courses
Thai foods are unique because of the combination of ingredients. Curries tend to
be quite light as the curry paste is made from fresh ingredients, while the richness is
derived primarily from coconut milk. The use of herbs and spices, plus the simplicity of the
cooking process, makes Thai food refreshing, while the imaginative mix of ingredients
enhances the taste.
๐ Green Beef Curry with Thai Noodles
(Kaeng Khiao Wan Nuea - Khanom Chin)
๐ Stirfried Chicken with Thai Basil and Chili Peppers
(Kai Phat Bai Kraphrau)
๐ Red Chicken Curry with Bamboo Shoots
(Kaeng Phet Kai Sai Normai)
๐ Salmon Chu Chee Curry
(Kaeng Chu Chee Pla Salmon)
๐ Sweet and Sour Prawns
(Priao Wan Kung)
๐ Prawn Curry with Pineapple
(Kaeng Khua Sapparot)
๐ Stirfried Chicken with Ginger
(Kai Phat Khing)
๐ Mussaman Curry with Chicken
(Kaeng Massaman Kai)
๐ Salmon Souffle in Banana Leaf Cup
(Ho Mok Pla Salmon)
๐ Stirfried Mixed Vegetables with Prawns or Chicken
(Phat Phak Ruammit Kung or Kai)
๐ Minced Pork Omelet
(Khai Chiao Mu Sap)
๐ Breaded Fried Fish with Spicy Dipping Sauce
(Pla Chup Paeng Thot)
๐ Stuffed Crab Shells
(Pu Cha)
๐ Egg Fried Rice
(Khao Phat Khai)
๐ Phat Thai
(Phat Thai)
๐ Garlic Fried Rice
(Khao Phat Kratiem)
๐ Stirfried Noodles, Drunken Style-Chicken,Beef,Pork
(Kuai-Tiao Phat Khi Mao)
Thai desserts use flour, rice, coconut sugar and coconut milk. Thailand is
famous for the variety of its fruits from durians to rambutans, so it is logical that fruits are
alsocombined with flour to make delicious desserts.
๐ Sweet Sticky Rice with Coconut Cream and Black
Beans (Khao Niao Tat)
๐ Tamarind Sherbet
(Sherbet Makham)
๐ Coconut Cake
(Khanom Ba-Bin)
๐ Banana Pudding
(Khanom Kluai)
Meals in Thailand
In Thailand, we have 3 meals same as other countries. Breakfast, lunch and dinner
are the main meals but Thai people like to have snacks between meals. A lot of
snacks. We eat our meals with a spoon and fork or sometimes with chopsticks if
we have noodles. All food is cut up when it is cooked so we don't need to use a
Joke is rice porridge with
Kai Jee-o is omelette.
Khao Mun Khai is chicken
and rice.
Ba-me is egg noodle soup with
pork and vegetables.
Pad Pak is fried vegetables.
Pad Bai Kha Praew is spicy basil
with chicken (pork, shrimp, etc.)
Kaeng Khee-o Whan is green
curry with beef.
Tomyam Kung is spicy
lemongrass soup with shrimp.
Pad Nhor Mai is Chicken (pork)
with bamboo shoots.
Som-Tam is Papaya spicy salad.
Pla-muk neung ma-nao is
steamed squid with lemon and
Pad Mama is fried noodle with
beef and vegetables.
About Thai Food:
Thai food is widely known for being hot and spicy since almost all Thai food is
cooked with basic ingredients such as garlic, chillies, limejuice, lemon grass and
fresh coriander leaf and fermented fish
sauce (nam pia) or shrimp paste (kapi)
make it salty.
Since rice is the staple food in
Thailand, it is usually eaten at every
with soups, curries, fried vegetables
nam phrik. Nam phrik is a hot sauce,
prepared in a variety of ways and
differs from region t oregion: nam phrik
pon is a ground dried fish and chilli
sauce, nam phrik pla raa is a fermented fish and chilli sauce, nam phrik kapi is a
shrimp paste and chilli sauce, nam phrik oong is a minced pork, tomato and chilli
sauce. In general, the basic ingredients of nam phrik include shrimp paste, garlic,
chilli, fermented fish sauce and iemon juice.
Other common seasoning in Thai food include galingale (khaa), blackpapper,
ground peanut, tamarind juice, ginger and coconut milk. As a result, it takes hours
to prepare a proper Thai meal in the traditional way as it involves so much peeling
and chopping and pounding so it needs time to prepare in advance.
In fact, Thai food varies from region to region, for example, glutinous or sticky rice
is more popular in the North and Northeast than steamed rice. Moreover, in some
rural areas, certain insects are also eaten e.g. crickets, silk worm larvae, red ant
larvae. At the same time, Thai desserts are often made from sticky rice or coconut
milk, flour, egg and coconut sugar while a variety of fruit is available all the year
Meanwhile, the basic characteristic taste of Thai food in different parts of the
country can be described in different ways: in the central region, food is hot, salty,
sweet and sour. Rice is served with different types of nam phrik and soups e.g.
tom yam kung (prawn soup with lemon grass. Dishes usually contain a lot of
condiments and spices. In the North, food is mild or hot, salty and sour, but never
sweet. Sticky rice is served with boiled vegetables, nam phrik oong and soups or
curries. The North is also well-known for its sausage called "naem" which consists
of fermented minced pork. It has a sour flavour and is sold wrapped in cellophane
and banana leaf.
Food in the Northeast is hot, salty and sour. Their favourite foods include papaya
salad (som tam), sour chopped meat salad "koi", sour minced meat salad (lard) .
People use a lot of condiments but not many spices. Their meals generally
consists of sticky rice and nam phrik pla raa accompanid by a lot of vegetableas
including those found growing wild. On the other hand, food in the South is
renowned for being very hot, salty and sour-tasting. Curries are popular and made
with a lot of spices and condiments. Khao yam (a mixture of rice) raw vegetables
and fermented fish sauce or boo doo is also a common dish. Generally southern
people eat little meat and other varieties of nam phrik are not so popular, the most
common one is nam phrik kapi.
Though the major portion of Thai food is described as being spiced and chilli hot, it
currently enjoys worldwide popularity especially the exotic Tom Yam Kung, a
uniquely piquant prawn soup that is renowned for it simplicity, creativity, artistic flair
and delicious taste. Above all, the tastes of Thai cuisines can be amended to suit
individual desire, for example, by reducing the amount of chillies in certain dishes
to lower the heat or increasing amount of lime juice to increase sourness. Visitors
who have tried the exotic Thai food will never forget to order them again whenever
their favourite dishes are available.
Sauces and Dips
Foreigners who have just come to Thailand are often baffled by the array of small
bowls, each containing different colored sauces, laid out for a typical Thai meal.
At a typical Thai dinner, there are many sauces and dips on the table, sometimes
they are more than the main dishes. Thais like tasty food and believe in satisfying
everybody individual taste. So although the main dishes are already prepared to
the cook's satisfaction, each person is still allowed leeway to season some more
with a good range of sauces and dips.
Each sauce and dip is a delicate blend of the four main flavours with usually one of
the tastes predominating. Here are the sauces and dips you will be likely to
encounter and their contents:
Fish Sauce: A staple in any Thai house, this brownish liquid is made of salt and
fish essence. Though it has quite strong smell, no Thai dish tastes quite right
without it.
Nam Pla Phrik: Fish sauce with thinly sliced phrik khi nu and a squeeze of lime
(may add sliced garlic). This sauce complements fried fish and fried rice dishes,
but it is used universally as a more sophisticated substitute for plain fish sauce.
Pickled Chilli in Vinegar: Fresh green and red chilli (phrik chi fa) are sliced and
pickled in clear vinegar. This is used to give noodles and congee a sharp tangy
Crushed Chilli in Vinegar: Fresh chilli coarsely pounded with vinegar added. This
sauce is also used with noodle dishes.
Nam Phrik Siracha: This is a thick, orange chilli sauce made from red chilli,
vinegar and sugar. It can be bought in Bottles at the markets. It is used as a sauce
and a dip for seafood.
Information from: "Thai Studies Through Games" Book 2 by Assist. Prof. Wadee
At a noodle shop, you may see this
common scene. At each table there is a
set of four containers which Thais call
Khrueng Phuang or ring of spices. After
being served their hot bowl of noodles,
nine out of ten Thais will automatically
reach out for these condiments, spoon in
some fish sauce, a bit or small spoon of
sugar or chili powder and toss in a small
spoon of pickled chilies in vinegar all this
before having had their first taste. Then,
after taking a few more mouthfuls, some
may continue to season a few more
times during the course of the meal. And
as any Thai will confirm, it is the last few
2. Vinegar with
1. Dry chilli powder
mouthfuls that are indeed the most
chilli pieces
delicious. Then it's time to order another
bowl and start the seasoning process all 3. Vinegar with chilli 4. Sugar
over again.
The ring of condiments which contains fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and chili powder,
mirrors the four tastes that form the basis of all Thai sauces and dips. The salty
flavour comes through with the use of fish sauce or soy sauce. The sour taste
comes from vinegar, lime or tamarind juice. The sweetness comes from sugar. And
the spicy hot comes from chilli peppers, garlic and ginger root.
Thailand has a wide variety of chilli peppers. Most commonly used are the tiny but
fiery phrik khi nu, the equally potent larger phrik lueng (yellow chili) and the
larger red and green varieties called phrik chi fa, which are a little milder.
Sauces and dips are an essential part of Thai cuisine as they add even more
flavour to the meal. The amount to be used is determined by each individual
according to his own personal preferences. Sauces and dips come in many colours
and textures. Some sauces are murky, some are clear. Some are a mixture of
ingredients that have been finely chopped or coarsely crushed, while others have
been pounded to a uniform colour and an even, thick consistency.
Nam Jim Kai: This is a multi - purpose dip which
is predominantly sweet in taste. Sugar forms the
base, but fish sauce, garlic and red chilli round out
the flavour. It complements barbecued chicken,
skewered pork, grilled cuttlefish, fried wanton,
spring rolls or batter fried shrimp.
There are other variations to this sweet dip. If
cucumber slices, crushed peanuts and a bit of
vinegar are added, the dip is used with fried bean
curd and fried fish cakes.
Ajaat: This is a light dip. The main ingredients are
crunchy cucumber slices, thinly sliced red chillis
and onions in a syrup of sugar, salt and vinegar.
Ajaat is eaten with some kinds of curries to cool
down the pungent richness, and always
accompanies Thai satay.
Satay Sauce: This satay is very similar to the
original Indonesian dip. It has the same peanut
base but the Thai version is less viscous and has
more "bite" to it. The main ingredients are
peanuts, coconut milk, chilli and curry base
pounded to an even consistency and seasoned
with sugar and salt.
Nam Phrik: All Thais love Nam phrik or chilli dip.
With variations, it is eaten in every area and every
house as it is the tastiest and least expensive
accompaniment to a Thai rice meal. Nam phrik pla
thu or chilli dip with Thai mackerel is popular
throughout the country but especially in the central
Thailand. Any Thai back from a long trip abroad is
likely to request this favourite on the first day he is
home. Newcomers to Thailand may take a while
to get used to the taste and smell. Recipes vary
according to regional preferences and the specific
type of nam phrik dip to be made, but the basic
ingredients are garlic, chilli, shrimp paste or
shrimp power, seasoned with fish sauce, lime and
palm sugar. All these are pounded together into a
lumpy paste.
For other variations of nam phrik, the chilli, shrimp
paste, onions or shallots and garlic are lightly
grilled. Nam phrik is eaten with fresh or boiled
Phrik Kap Klua: A common sight in Thailand is
the roadside fruit vendor, since Thais often starve
off the effects of heat and thirst with fresh fruit
snacks. Along with his raw and pickled, mangoes,
ripe pineapple, fresh guava, etc. the fruit vendor
always has an ample supply of phrik kap klua. It is
made from a mixture of sugar, salt and crushed
Regional Food:
The Thai in the central plain
prefer food with smooth and
lasting taste with a touch of
sweetness. The way the food is
served is an art in itself. The
dinning table is often decorated
with carved vegetable and fruit.
Cuisine of the central plain
sometimes combines the best
of the foods from various regions.
Rice is strictly the staple food for every family in the central region. There are on
the average three to five dishes to go with rice. Typical are soup, gang som (chili
vegetable soup), gang phed (Thai red curry), tom yam (spiced soup) and so on.
Chili fried meat dishes are for instances, pad phed, panaeng, masaman, fried
ginger and green pepper, Thai salads or yam are yam tua pu, salad with sliced
roasted beef. Dishes that regular feature fin a Thai meal of the central region are
vegetable, namprik (chili sauce), platoo (local herring), and perhaps omelette (Thai
style), fried beef of roasted pork. On the whole Thai meal should meet protein and
vitamin requirements with plenty to spare.
Traditional Methods of Serving Thai Food of the Central Region
The central plain of Thailand has always been known for its progress and advance
in all areas of human activity, be it intellectual, technological or cultural.
The Thai in the central region have adopted spoon and fork and a common
ditching spoon as the standard cutlery set for Thai meals. For affluent families,
napkins simply folded or folded into various geometrical shapes are also to be
seen depending also on individual family's tradition and taste. Dishes, boiled rice
and drinking water are laid on the dinning table and for the family which can afford
the service of a maid, will be replenished by a waiting maid as the meal
progresses. Less well to do families may do without shared spoons together, and
family members take food from the dish by their own spoons.
Thai food of the north, in some way, is cooked with the sole thought for the taste
for the northern people. The recipe consists of vegetable and ingredients available
in their immediate vicinity. The common meal includes steamed glutinous rice, chili
sauces which come in a host of
varieties, such as "namprik
noom", "namprik dang",
"namprik ong" and chili soups
(gang) such as gang hangle,
gang hoh, gang kae. In addition
there are also, local sausages
such as sai ua, and nham;
steamed meat, roasted pork,
pork resin, fried pork, fried
chicken and vegetable to go
with them.
The northern people have penchant for medium cooked food with a touch of salty
tastes almost to the exclusion of sweet and sour tastes. Meat preferred by the
northern people is pork followed by beef, chicken, duck, bird etc. Sea food is the
least known on account of the remoteness of the northern region from the sea.
Thai food of the north does not lack in varieties. These are dishes to be consumed
at different times of the day. The northern breakfast known in the local dialect as
khao gnai consisting mainly of steamed glutinous rice. Cooked in the early hours of
the day, steamed glutinous rice is packed in a wicker basket made from bamboo
splints or palmyra palm leaves. The farmer takes the packed basket to the working
rice field and eat the glutinous rice as lunch, known in the dialect as "khao ton".
Dinner or "khoa lang" is an familiar affair is served on raised wooden tray or "kan
toke". The tray which is about 15 to 30 inches in diameter is painted in red.
Traditional Method of Serving Northern Food
The northern people are known to follow their traditions in a very strict and faithful
manner, in particular the tradition of serving and partaking of the evening meal.
Food is placed in small cups placed on "kantoke" which could be an inlaid wooden
or brass tray depending on the economic status of the house owner. Served
together with "kantoke" is steamed glutinous rice that is the staple food of the
northerner packed in a wicker basket. There is also a kendi containing drinking
water nearby. Water is poured from the kendi to a silver drinking cup from which
water is drunk. After the main course come desserts and local cigars to conclude
the evening meal.
Thai food of the south tends to be exceedingly chili hot compared with Thai food
from other regions of Thailand. Specially favored dishes of the south are a whole
variety of gang (spiced soup or
curry) for examples, gang liang,
gang tai pla, and budu sauce.
Boiled rice mixed in budu sauce
known as khao yam is a
delicatessen of the southern
people. Salty is taste, khao yam
is taken with an assortment of
vegetable. Considered special
ties of the south are sataw, med
riang and look niang.
Sataw is a green pod when
stripped reveals green berries.
Strawberries sometimes
chopped into thin slices are
cooked with meat and chili or simply added to any gang or maybe boiled with other
vegetable in coconut milk, or taken raw with chili sauce. The berries can be
preserved by pickling and eaten without further cooking.
Med riang is very much like a bean sprout but much larger in size and dark green
in color. It is ready for eating after the outer skin is removed. It can be cooked with
vegetable and meat or pickled for eating with gang, chili sauce or lon (ground meat
or fish in chili sauce).
Look niang is a round berry in a hard and dark green skin. When the skin is
removed it is ready for eaten. The inner layer may or may not be removed
depending on individual taste. Look niang may be raw or with chili sauce, lon, gang
liang especially gang tai pla. Ripe look niang boiled and mixed with coconut flakes
and sugar is served as a dessert.
Like Thai food of the north, Thai
food of the northeast has
steamed glutinous rice as a
staple base to be taken with
spiced ground meat with red
pork blood, papaya salad or
som tom, roasted fish, roasted
chicken, jim-jaem, and rotted
fish or pla rah. The northeast
prefer to have their meat fried
and the meat could be frog,
lizard, snake, rice field rat, large
red ants, insects etc. Pork, beef
and chicken are preferred by
well to do families.
Traditional Methods of Serving Thai Food in the northeast
Dishes are served in a large enameled food tray which sports a pattern of large
and colorful flowers. Food is taken from the dishes is taken with steamed glutinous
rice contained in a wicker basket (katib) made in the peculiar style of the
northeastern people. Desserts mainly consisting of processed glutinous rice such
as, khao niew hua ngog nang led, etc.
A guide to equipment used in Thai cooking.
Most people are familiar with woks, which are used in virtually all Asian cooking. In
Thailand, we use some equipment, like a sticky rice steamer and basket, that are
not used much in other Asian countries. A kloke, or mortar and pestle, is another
tool that's used a lot in Thai cooking, both to make Som Tum and to pound
ingredients used in dipping sauces and curry pastes. Most of the tools shown here
are available at Asian markets, and most can be ordered from websites as well.
The Thai stone mortar and pestle (on the right) is
made from carved granite. It's used to pound curry pastes and other dried spice
ingredients such as coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, and dried peppers. The
mortar on the left is made from clay and the pestle at the bottom is made from
wood. This kind of mortar and pestle is commonly used for pounding green
papaya salad (Som Tum), fresh peppers, fresh garlic, and more.
This sticky rice steamer kit is perfect for steaming
sticky rice. The basket is made from woven bamboo, which keeps the sticky rice
from getting too wet during steaming. The steaming pot is made from aluminum
and this pot is about 8" wide at the top and about 10" tall. Water is placed in the
bottom of the pan and it's brought to a boil. Sticky rice, which has been soaked
overnight (or for at least 3 hours), is placed in the basket. The rice should steam
for approximately 15-20 minutes or until it turns translucent. Any round pot cover
can be placed in the basket in order to keep most of the steam from escaping.
This three tray aluminum steamer comes in a
variety of sizes. It's used for steaming fish, vegetables, tapioca dumplings, and
chicken. Water is placed in the bottom tray and it's brought to a boil. Oil should be
rubbed on the trays before using to keep the food from sticking. A big sheet of
banana leaves is often used with this type of the steamer to wrap up food prior to
This electric rice cooker is the most
convenient way to cook rice and you'll find one in most homes in Asia. The rice
cooks in just 5-10 minutes and after it's cooked you can leave it in the rice cooker
to warm until it's ready to serve. Rice cookers come in different sizes, depending
upon how much rice you eat and how many people you're cooking for. Common
sizes are 3, 5, 8, and 10 cups. Rice cookers are available at most Asian markets
and many department stores.
This Thai hot pot
with lid is made from aluminum. We use it to serve soup like Tom Yum, Hot and
Sour Soup (Gang Som Pae Za in Thai) and Chicken and Coconut Soup (Tom Kha
Gai in Thai). Charcoal is placed in the bottom of the pot (sterno cans are used in
the US), which keeps the soup warm during a meal (in Thailand a meal can last
several hours!). Thai hot pots are sold at most Asian markets or order online .
In Thai cooking, a good wok is very important! A
non-stick wok or frying pan is best for stir-frying noodle dishes like pad thai or
fried rice. Stainless steel or cast iron woks are best to use for stir-frying vegetables
or meat.
The clay pot on the left is used in the
oven to cook dishes such as Seafood with Silver Bean Thread Noodle (Woon Sen
Ob Talay in Thai), Dungeness Crab with Thai herbs (Poo Ob Mor-din) and
Pineapple Fried Rice with Shrimp in Clay Pot (Kao Ob Saparote in Thai). The clay
pot on the right is used for soups like Tom Yum. Charcoal can be put in the
bottom to keep the soup warm during the meal. Clay pots are available at most
Asian markets .
This is a bamboo steamer tray
that's mostly used to warm foods like dumplings, chicken or pork meat, and
vegetables. Bamboo steamers come in a variety of sizes and are available at most
Asian markets and some supermarkets and department stores.
This sticky rice serving basket is perfect for serving
sticky rice. The woven bamboo allows the rice to breathe a little and yet it keeps
some of the heat in as well. In Thailand, rice is never left uncovered during a
meal, so the bamboo server also helps with that. Some baskets come with brightly
colored woven bamboo and are very decorative as well as functional!
Some of the
utenstils commonly used in Thai cooking include a spatula, which is used for stirfrying and works well when making Pad Thai and other noodle dishes. Cooking
chopsticks are very helpful when making noodle dishes such as Pad Thai or
Drunken Noodles because they help lift up the strands of noodles so the sauce can
cover each noodle. Knives such as a chefs knife and a carving knife are very
important as well as a cleaver (not shown). A wire strainer is usually made from
either copper or steel wire and is very useful when deep-frying. A shredder works
well when making Som Tum to cut the unripe papaya into long thin shreds. A
peeler works well when peeling fruit or vegetables prior to cooking.
This little wood stool with metal teeth on one end
is used to extract the meat from a coconut. The coconut is cracked open and the
metal teeth loosen the meat from the shell so it can be used to make fresh
coconut milk.
This type of charcoal grill has been
used in Thailand for a long, long time! Hot coals are placed in the bottom of the
grill and a wok sits on the top. The grill is essentially a metal pail with concrete
inside formed into a space that holds charcoal (which is added through a hole cut
into the side. A ceramic piece holds the wok above the coals.
Guide to vegetables, herbs and roots used in Thai cooking.
(the Thai name is in parentheses).
Holy Basil (Bai Grapow) Peppery is perhaps the best way to describe this type of
basil. Holy basil is typically not eaten raw and can be frozen or dried for later use.
Thai Basil (Bai Horapha) With an anise-like flavor, Thai basil is used in curries
and stir-fries. It's also eaten fresh with noodle soup and will not keep for long (it
also does not freeze or dry well).
Lemon Basil (Bai Maeng-luck) Used in soups and to flavor steamed fish and
vegetables, lemon basil has a real citrus-like aroma and flavor. It can be frozen or
dried for later use.
Lime leaves (Bai Makrut) are used whole in soups and curries and cut-up for
salads. They can be preserved in the freezer.
Galanga (Kah) is used in soups such as Tom Yum, curries and is sliced up for use
in salads.
Lemon Grass (Ta Khrai) is used in soups such as Tom Yum, Thai curries and is
sliced for use in salads.
Ginger (King) is used in many different dishes. It's spicier than galanga and the
skin must be peeled before using.
Turmeric (Kamin), a relative of ginger, is used in many different dishes both for
it's yellow color and flavor. It's available frozen or powdered.
Krachai (rhizome), a relative of ginger, is used in Kanom Jeen Numya, a curry
dish. It's available frozen or in jars.
Thai Chili (Prik Kee Noo) are used in lots of Thai dishes and are often eaten raw,
too. Phet!
Dried Thai Chili (Prik Hang) is used in soups, salads and stir-fries.
Young Ginger (King On) is picked earlier than ginger and has a more subtle
Star anise - pauy gug
This is a classic Chinese spice that, in Thai dishes, is
added primarily to soups. For the soup, you will want
to add the whole seed pod instead of it ground up.
While you don't eat it, it looks pretty in the dish.
This is one of the components of Chinese five spice.
ground dried chili pepper - prig kee nu bonn
You can buy whole dried chili pepper and also ground
chilli pepper. You can also make it yourself. To make it
yourself, toast the pepper in a hot pan until you can smell
the spicy aroma. It should take about a minute or so. Then
grind it in a food processor. Dried ground chili pepper is used as a condiment for noodles.
Cinnamon - stick - ob cheuy
Use cinnamon stick in soups because it seems easier to use,
and is prettier than powdered.
bay leaf - bai gra-waan
Bay leaves are available at most supermarket across the
country on the spice rack. However, I find that it is more
economical to buy them from Indian groceries.
Chinese five spice - pah-lo powder
Chinese five spice is available at the spice section at most
Cardamom - loog gra-waan
Cardamom or 'loog gra-waan' is available in spice section
of most supermarket. However, I buy mine at an Indian
grocery. They come in pods or just seeds. Cardamoms that
you find in Indian groceries have green pods while the
ones in Thailand has white pod. They both taste about the
It seems like you can keep cardamom in a jar for years.
Cloves - gaan plu
Cloves or 'gaan plu' is used strictly for main dishes in Thai
Curry powder - pong gari
This is the traditional Indian curry powder that you get in
the US at chain supermarkets that is made of 6 or 7 spices.
Curry powder is also available at Indian groceries. In Thai
cooking, it is used in Stir Fry and many other dishes.
Curry powder is not related to Thai curry paste.
Cherry Eggplant (Makuea Poo-ung) is used in curries and is eaten with Nam
Prik. It's very bitter!
Chinese or Purple Eggplant (Makuea Muang) is used is used in stir-fries or is
Thai Eggplant (Makuea Praow) is used in curries, Som Tum, and is eaten raw.
Long Bean (Tua Fak Yaow) is used in curries, stir-fries, and Som Tum (Green
Papaya Salad). They're crunchier than regular green beans.
Green Papaya (Malagaw) is shredded to make the famous spicy Thai salad called
Som Tum! Green unripe papaya is available in most Asian markets.
Pickle (Tang Kwa) Pickling cucumbers are crunchier than regular cucumbers and
are eaten raw or used to make a salad like Som Tum called Tum Tang.
Pac Peow (Bai Prik Ma) is eaten raw with salads or noodles. Pac peow can be
found in many Southeast Asian markets Mint (Salanae) is used in larb and other
salads and is served with noodle soup. Culantro (Pak Chee Farang) is usually
eaten raw and can also be cut up and added to larb (meat salad).
Water Spinach (Pak Boong in Thai and Ong Choy in Chinese) is generally cooked
with oyster sauce or soy sauce and is eaten raw.
Krachet is grown in water and the foam-like material covering the stem must be
removed before eating.
Cha-om is a very unusual tasting (and smelling) vegetable that is eaten raw or
cooked with eggs.
Kayang is an herb that is eaten raw mostly by people in Northeast Thailand and
has an unusual flavor.
Kowtong is eaten raw or can also be used in salads. It has a fish-like flavor.
Bitter Leaf (Chapoo in Thai and E-lert in Lao) is eaten raw or used in soup or
Chinese Brocolli (Kana in Thai or Gai-lan in Chinese) is more flavorful than
regular brocolli and is steamed or stir-fried in many dishes.
Yu Choy (Pak Gat Dok), is similar to Napa but has a stronger flavor and is eaten
Baby Bok Choy (Pak Gat Shanghai) is steamed and eaten with nam prik or used
in stir-fries or soupssteamed or in stir-fries.
Katin is eaten raw with nam prik and tastes somewhat like cha-om. It comes in
bunches of strings about 4-6 inches in length.
Pea Tips (Yod Tua Lan Tao) are cooked in stir-fries and eaten raw with Nam Prik.
Wing Bean (tua poo) is very crunchy and tastes somewhat similar to long beans.
It's eaten raw and is also used in Tod Mun fish cakes.
Chinese Celery (Kun Chai) is used in many dishes and is similar to celery, but
has a stronger flavor.
Asian Chives (Gooey Chai) are used in Pad Thai and stir-fries and are eaten raw.
Chive Flowers (Dok Gui Chai) are the flowering tips of chives and are used in
Bitter Melon (Marah in Thai) is a very bitter vegetable used in stir-fries and
Lin Fah is usually steamed and eaten with nam prik. It's available frozen at Asian
Okra (Makuea Sawanh) is steamed and eaten as a vegetable or used in stir-fries.
Sadao flowers and leaves are very bitter and are eaten with nam prik or laab
meat salad.
Samek leaves are sour and are eaten with laab meat salad or nam prik.
Tia to leaves are citrusy-tasting and are eaten with laab meat salad.
Smooth Loofa Gourd (buap homm) is one of two varieties of loofa gourd and is
used in soups and stir-fries. It's sometimes called mawp in Asian markets.
Fuzzy Squash (fak kiow) is used in soups and stir-fries. Sometimes called moqua
in Asian markets, the hairs must be removed before cooking.
Opo Squash (nam tao) is also called bottle gourd or calabash. Opo is used in
soups and stir-fries and is also steamed and eaten with nam prik.
Banana Flower (hua plee) is eaten with kanom jeen namya and pad thai. Only
the tender inside part is eaten.
Banana leaves (bai tong) are used to wrap up food prior to steaming. They
impart a very subtle, grassy flavor to the food.
Pandan Leaves (bai toey) are used for wrapping up food prior to steaming. The
flavor they impart is similar to roasted young coconut juice.
Bamboo Shoots (Naw Mai) are used in many Thai dishes including a curry called
Gang Naw Mai.
Water Chestnuts (haew) are very crunchy and delicious. They're used in many
different dishes.
Daikon Radish (Hua Pak Got Kao) is used in soups and stir-fries.
Taro Root (Pueak) is primarily used in making Thai desserts. Taro also comes in a
purple variety.
Boniato (Mun Tet) is primarily used in making Thai desserts. Boniato, as well as
taro, is available at many Asian markets.
Yucca Root (Mun Sum Pa Lunk) is primarily used in making Thai desserts. Yucca
is also called tapioca or cassava.
Garlic (Kratiem) is used in virtually all Thai dishes.
Green Onion (Homm Sot) is used in many Thai salads and dishes such as Pad
Cilantro (Pak Chee) comes from the coriander seed and is used in many different
Thai dishes.
Dill (pak chee lao) is used a lot in Northeast Thai cooking, in dishes such as om
(beef curry) and ab hoy shell (steamed seafood). It's also eaten raw and is usually
much cheaper at Asian markets than at supermarkets.
Yanang leaves are used in gang naw mai and other dishes featuring bamboo
Edamame are edible young soybean seeds and are steamed and eaten as a
snack. They're available frozen and can sometimes be purchased fresh at farmers
Lotus Root (hua bua) is the root of the water lotus plant and is most often used
to make desserts or drinks.
Mayom (Gooseberry) leaves (bai mayom) are leaves of the Otaheite
Gooseberry. They're eaten with laab or nam prik.
Pak Van is eaten with laab or nam prik and grows like a ground cover in Thailand
near rice paddies.
Chayote (Mala Waan) tastes like fuzzy gourd and is used in Red Curry with
Chicken, Clear Hot Soup with Fish and other stir-fried dishes.
Sugar Cane stick (Oye) in Thailand people eat sugar cane as a candy and it's
added to soup broth for sweet flavoring. Sugar cane is also used for skewers in
Sherlihon (Pak Gat kaan Kluay and Hmong Gai Choy in English) tastes similar to
bok choy and is steamed, stir-fried and pickled.
Edible Fern (Pak kood) in the Northern region of Thailand this fern is well known
as pak kood and is used in Bamboo Soup (Gang Naw Mai), Om and is cooked in a
salad called Soob Pak Kood. It's also steamed and eaten with fish dipping sauce.
Bitter melon Leaves (Yod Mala) have a bitter taste and are very good in the
Issan dish Om with Beef. They're also steamed and eaten with dipping sauce.
Bitter melon leaves are often available at farmers markets.
Dok Kare is an edible flower of Kare tree. They're white and light green in color.
Dok Kare is often steamed and eaten with fish dipping sauce. It's also good for Hot
and Sour Soup with Mud fish (Gang Som Dok Kare Pla Chon)
Kee Lek leaves have a strong bitter taste and have to be boiled in hot water and
drained several times before they're used to make Curry with Beef Tendon (Gang
Kee Lek Sai En Voaw). It is a most unique curry!
Pak Kadon is a wild vegetable that grows in rice fields. It has a unique taste
that's similar to hairy bean (tua hair). Kadon is usually eaten raw with meat salad
(Laab) and the leaves are similar to bai ma muang himapaan (cashew nut leaves)
Pak Waan has very plain taste and is good for steaming and serving with dipping
sauce. Pak waan is also used to make soup with smoked fish or ant's eggs.
Pak Thew is a wild vegetable like kadon and kee lek. It has a sour taste like
young tamarind leaves and is good for hot and sour fish soup. Pak thew is also
eaten raw with meat salad (Laab) and Kao Tod Nam Klook (Rice Curry Salad).
Pak Kaat is well known in Northeast Thailand and is used for fish curry and beef.
Both the leaves and the flowers are added to the curry and it has a smell like raw
Pennyroyal (bai bua bong or pak ngong in Isaan) grows wild like a groundcover
and tastes a little bitter. Pak ngong is made into a juice called nam bai bua bong
and is also eaten raw with coconut noodle curry, Pad Thai and meat salad.
Satoh bean is similar in appearance to a lima bean and is used in stir-fries and
curries and is also eaten raw with dipping sauce. Satoh is well known in the south
of Thailand and tastes like katin and chaom.
Tamarind Leaves (Yod makaam on) are sour and are eaten with salt as a snack
and used to replace lime or lemon in chicken and fish soups.
Hairy Bean (Tua Hair in Isaan) is eaten raw with meat salad (Laab) and tastes
like kadon leaves. It's mostly found in Northeast Thailand
Sesame Leaves (bai nga) are used to wrap up beef for grilling (they can
substitute for Beefsteak Plant (Shiso leaves) and taste similar to chapoo leaves.
Drumstick Tree Fruit is often called Malunggay fruit in Asian markets as that is
what it's called in the Philippines. The pods are about 6 inches to 1 foot long.
A Guide to Thai Fruit (Thai name is in parentheses)
Thai people love to eat fruit! We eat it with nearly every meal and it's available on
the street everywhere. So many different varieties of fruit are available in
Thailand; for example, I believe we have over 20 different varieties of banana
alone! Much of the fruit we enjoy in Thailand is now available in the US. Lychee
and longan are now being grown in Florida and mangoes are imported from
Mexico, Central America and South America. In addition, some fruit is imported
from Thailand (in frozen form) such as durian, longan, lychee, rambutan, and
mangosteen. Much of the fruit we eat is available in cans or jars from Thailand,
Mangoes (ma muang) are one of the favorite fruits in Thailand! The variety
shown above, ataulfo (also called champagne), is available in the spring imported
from Mexico.
Longan (lum yai) is a favorite Thai fruit. The flesh is translucent (the seed is
visible). Longan has a unique taste that's hard to describe, but it's delicious.
Lychee (linchi) fruit tastes a little bit like a pear, but it's sweeter and juicier! The
flesh is white/pink and there's a seed in the middle.
Ripe Papaya (malagaw sook) is eaten both when the fruit is ripe and when it's
still green in Thailand. Ripe papayas are a favorite fruit and the flavor is somewhat
similar to ripe persimmons.
Durian (tu-rian) is sometimes called the king of fruits. Unique in appearance, the
smell of durian has been described as stinky and the fruit has a texture like
pudding, with a rich flavor like no other fruit!
Guava (fa-rang) resembles an apple and has tiny seeds inside. The taste is more
like a crunchy pear.
Dragon fruit (also called Pitaya) is fruit of a cactus plant. The flesh looks like that
of a kiwi and is typically scooped-out with a spoon.
Rambutan (makok num) is a bright red fruit with hairs on the outside. The flavor
is similar to lychee fruit and there is a seed in the middle.
Star fruit (ma-phueng), also called carambola, is a star-shaped fruit that has a
subtle, citrusy flavor.
Thai bananas (kluay num wah) resemble plantains, but the flavor is much
sweeter. They should be eaten when the skin is yellow.
Persimmon (luke pawp) resemble a tomato in shape and taste like a mediumsweet papaya (not quite ripe). Persimmon's are usually eaten when firm and are
crunchy in texture.
Baby bananas (kluay kai) are usually about 3-4 inches in length and are much
sweeter tasting than regular bananas.
Young coconuts (ma prow on) are available in Asian markets. The juice is
removed (usually with a straw) and the meat that's left is very delicious and can
be used in desserts.
Medium coconuts (ma prow tuen tueng) are picked between green young
coconuts and brown coconuts. The meat is usually used for desserts.
Coconuts (ma prow gae) are available in some Asian markets. The coconut must
be cracked open and the meat is removed (that's what coconut milk and cream is
made from)
Golden Apple (makok num), tastes somewhat like a crabapple and is eaten
before it ripens, usually with dipping sauce
Sweet Tamarind (makarm wan) has a taste similar to prunes or dates and is
eaten as a snack.