Thai food is the culmination of all the variety of foods from the four regions of Thailand, Northern, Northeastern, Central and Southern. Thai cuisine is typically known for being quite spicy, but traditional Thai cuisine is a balance of spicy, sour, sweet, salty and bitter. The food is loaded with fresh herbs, commonly cilantro, lemon grass, basil and mint, but other varieties of herbs are present in many Thai dishes.
Nam Pla is a rather strong tasting fish sauce that is a major ingredient found in almost all Thai dishes. This special sauce is prepared with fermented fish that provides a unique, salty flavor to Thai dishes. There are many variations of fish sauce that are produced from all areas of Thailand. Head into your local Thai market and you’ll notice dozens if not more, varieties of Nam Pla.
Nam Phrik is another common ingredient in most Thai food. These Thai chili pastes vary from region to region. The Thai word Nam Phrik refers to any paste containing chilies. More specific names are given to different varieties of chili paste.
Soy Sauce is used throughout Thai cooking, but the actual sauce is of Chinese origin. There are many varieties of Soy Sauce throughout Thailand, but they are all created by the fermentation of whole soy beans.
Jasmine Rice is the staple grain of Thai culture. This long grain variety of rice is abundant in the central plains of Thailand. Jasmine Rice is served with practically every meal in Thai cuisine, with the exception of noodle dishes.
Noodles are very popular in Thailand as well, but unlike rice, noodle dishes are typically served as a stand alone dish. There are six varieties of noodles within Thai cooking. Noodles are made from either rice flour, wheat flour or mung bean flour.
This is a popular Thai soup that is known for being both spicy and sour. The broth is typically made of stock and fresh ingredients including lemon grass, lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce and chili peppers. This delicious soup can be served with prawns (Tom Yum Goong), chicken (Tom Yum Gai), fish (Tom Yum Pla) or mixed seafood (Tom Yum Talay). Served with mushrooms, onions and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.
Probably one of the most common dishes in Thai cuisine. The name literally means stir-fried rice. There are many varieties of ingredients that can be used within Khao Pad, depending on the region or preferences of your cook. Most Khao Pad contains some sort of meat such as chicken, pork, beef, shrimp and crab, but can also be vegetarian. Common ingredients can include egg, onions, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, fried garlic, soy sauce, salt, sugar, chili sauce and fish sauce.
This dish is popular amongst tourists coming to visit Thailand who have had Thai food in their own countries. Pad Thai is stir fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice, red chili pepper, bean sprouts and can be served with shrimp or chicken. There are two different varieties of Pad Thai that can be found. The version most typically found in Thailand is a lighter, dryer version of the dish. The version found in most western countries is much more heavy and oily.
Pad See Ew
Is a stir fried noodle dish which is quite popular in Thai restaurants around the world. The literal translation meaning “fried with soy sauce”. This dish is made with soy sauce, garlic, flat rice noodles, Chinese broccoli, egg and some form of meat, although it can come as a strictly vegetarian dish.
Is literally translated as sweet green curry. The dish is known as green curry simply because the color of the dish comes off a hue of green. Green curry is typically a very spicy curry and is typically as spicy as it’s red variety. Kaeng Khiaowan contains coconut milk, green curry paste, aubergine, sugar, fish sauce, lime leaves and Thai basil. Green curry is served with many types of meat, but is most commonly served with beef, pork, chicken and fish.
This is just a few of the many Thai dishes you may encounter during your trip to Thailand. During your travels it is good to remember that it is safe to stick to the foods you know, but it is more fun and gives you a greater understanding of the culture to branch out and try new things. Do not be afraid to try different kinds of dishes, you may surprise yourself and actually enjoy them.