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Thai Cuisine

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Thai cuisine is known for its balance of five fundamental flavors in each dish or the overall meal - hot (spicy), sour, sweet, salty and bitter (optional). Although popularly considered as a single cuisine, Thai food is really better described as four regional cuisines corresponding to the four main regions of the country: Northern, Northeastern (or Isan), Central and Southern. Southern curries, for example, tend to contain coconut milk and fresh turmeric, while northeastern dishes often include lime juice.


Influence and Western Popularity

Thai cuisine has been influenced by Chinese stir-fries and Indian curries while maintaining a unique taste of its own. Like Vietnamese food, Thai food is known for its enthusiastic use of fresh (rather than dried) herbs and spices as well as fish sauce.


Thai food is popular in many Western countries especially in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the United States, and Canada.



Instead of a single main course with side dishes found in Western cuisine, a Thai full meal typically consists of either a single dish or rice khao (Thai ข้าว) with many complementary dishes served concurrently.


Rice is a staple component of Thai cuisine, as it is of most Asian cuisines. The highly prized, sweet-smelling jasmine rice is indigenous to Thailand. Steamed rice is accompanied by highly aromatic curries, stir-fries and other dishes, incorporating sometimes large quantities of chillies, lime juice and lemon grass. Curries, stir-fries and others may be poured onto the rice creating a single dish called khao rad gang (Thai ข้าวราดแกง), a popular meal when time is limited. Sticky rice khao neow (Thai ข้าวเหนียว) substitutes ordinary rice in rural Northern and Northeastern cuisine. Noodles are popular as well but usually come as a single dish, like the stir-fried Pad Thai or noodle soups.


There is uniquely Thai dish called nam prik (Thai น้ำพริก) which refers to a chile sauce or paste. Each region has its own special versions. It is prepared by crushing together chillies with various ingredients such as garlic and shrimp paste using a mortar and pestle. It is then often served with vegetables such as cucumbers, cabbage and yard-long beans, either raw or blanched. The vegetables are dipped into the sauce and eaten with rice. Nam prik may also be simply eaten alone with rice or, in a bit of Thai and Western fusion, spread on toast.


Thai food is generally eaten with a fork and a spoon. Chopsticks are used rarely, primarily for the consumption of noodle soups. The fork, held in the left hand, is used to shovel food into the spoon. However, it is common practice for Thais and hill tribe peoples in the North and Northeast to eat sticky rice with their right hands by making it into balls that are dipped into side dishes and eaten. Thai-Muslims also frequently eat meals with only their right hands.



The ingredient found in almost all Thai dishes and every region of the country is nam pla (Thai น้ำปลา), a very aromatic and strong tasting fish sauce. Shrimp paste, a combination of ground shrimp and salt, is also extensively used. Thai dishes in the Central and Southern regions use a wide variety of leaves rarely found in the west, such as kaffir lime leaves (Thai ใบมะกรูด). Fresh - kaffir lime leaves' characteristic flavour appears in nearly every Thai soup (e.g., the hot and sour Tom yam) or curry from those areas. It is frequently combined with garlic, galangal, lemon grass, turmeric and/or fingerroot, blended together with liberal amounts of various chillies to make curry paste. Fresh Thai basil is also used to add fragrance in certain dishes such as Green curry. Other typical ingredients include the small green Thai eggplants, tamarind, palm and coconut sugars, lime juice, and coconut milk.


Famous Dishes

Many Thai dishes are familiar in the west. In many dishes below, different kinds of meat can be chosen as the ingredient, such as beef, chicken, pork, or seafood.


Individual Dishes

  • Pad Thai (Thai ผัดไทย) - rice noodles pan fried with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice or tamarind pulp, chopped peanuts and egg combined with chicken, seafood, and tofu.
  • Rad na (Thai ราดหน้า) - wide rice noodles in gravy, with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, or seafood. (Originally from China)
  • Khao Pad Naem (Thai ข้าวผัดแหนม) - Fried rice with fermented sausage (typically from the Northeast).
  • Pad see ew (Thai ผัดซีอิ๊ว) - noodles stir-fried with soysauce and pork or chicken.
  • Pad kee mao (Thai ผัดขี้เมา) - noodles stir-fried with Thai basil
  • Khao khluk kapi (Thai ข้าวคลุกกะปิ) - rice stir-fried with shrimp paste, served with sweeten pork and vegetables.
  • Khanom Chin Namya (Thai ขนมจีนน้ำยา) - round boiled rice noodles topped with various curry sauces and eaten with fresh leaves and vegetables.
  • Khao soi (Thai ข้าวซอย) - crispy wheat noodles in sweet chicken curry soup (a Northern dish).
  • Kow Pad Gai - fried rice with chicken

Central Thai Shared Dishes

  • Tom yam (Thai ต้มยำ) - 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 talae (Thai ต้มยำทะเล), with chicken Tom yam gai (Thai ต้มยำไก่).
  • Tom kha gai (Thai ต้มข่าไก่) - hot sweet soup with chicken and coconut milk.
  • Satay (Thai สะเต๊ะ) - grilled meat, usually pork or chicken, served with peanut sauce (actually of Indonesian origin, but now a popular street food in Thailand).
  • Red curry (Gaeng Phet = 'hot curry') (Thai แกงเผ็ด) - made with copious amounts of dried red chillies
  • Green curry (Gaeng khiew-waan) (Thai แกงเขียวหวาน) - sweet green curry, made with fresh green chillies and flavoured with Thai basil, and chicken or fish meatballs.
  • Massaman curry (Thai แกงมัสมั่น) - an Indian style curry, usually made by Thai-Muslims, containing roasted dried spices, such as coriander seed, that are rarely found in other Thai curries.
  • Pad prik (Thai ผัดพริก) - usually beef stir fried with chili, called Neua pad prik (เนื้อผัดพริก)
  • Pad kaphrao (Thai ผัดกะเพรา) - beef, pork or chicken stir fried with Thai Holy basil.
  • Pad pak ruam (Thai ผัดผักรวม) - stir fried combination of vegetables depending on availability and preference.
  • Panaeng (Thai พะแนง) - dry curry with beef (Panang beef, พะแนงเนื้อ), chicken, or pork. It includes some roasted dried spices similar to Massaman curry.
  • Tod man (Thai ทอดมัน) - deep fried fishcake made from knifefish (Tod man pla krai, ทอดมันปลากราย) or shrimp (Tod man kung, ทอดมันกุ้ง)


Northeastern Shared Dishes

  • Som tam (Thai ส้มตำ) grated papaya salad, pounded with a mortar and pestle. There are two main variations: Som tam poo (ส้มตำปู) with salted black crab, and Som tam Thai (ส้มตำไทย) with peanuts and palm sugar.
  • Larb (Thai ลาบ) - sour salads containing meat, onions, chillies, roasted rice powder and garnished with Mint.
  • Namtok (Thai น้ำตก) - made with beed and identical to larb, except that the beef is cut into thin strips rather than minced.
  • Yam (Thai ยำ) - general name for any type of sour salad, such as those made with glass noodles (Yam Wun Sen, ยำวุ้นเส้น), or with seafood (Yam Talae, ยำทะเล).
  • Tom saep (Thai ต้มแซบ) - Northeastern-style hot & sour soup
  • Gai yang (Thai ไก่ย่าง) - marinated, grilled chicken
  • Sticky rice (Thai ข้าวเหนียว)
  • Namprik num (Thai น้ำพริกหนุ่ม) - dipping sauce made from roasted eggplant, green chillies, and garlic pounded together in a mortor and pestle.



Throughout the country there are many interpretations and variations on these common dishes. Other dishes from the northern part of Thailand include unique sauces and exotic foods, such as raw beef, fermented fish paste, and deep fried insect larvae (also enjoyed in the Northeast). The culinary creativity even extends to naming: one tasty larva translates as "freight train" and the smallest, hottest chillies are known as phrik khii nuu, literally "mouse shit chillies".


Extracted from Wikipedia: Thai Cuisine

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My wife makes chicken (pieces) that she marinates all day and then cooks on The Grill, basting it with coconut milk until done.




If anyone likes to grill chicken and wants to know I will find out what she uses to soak it in.

She makes it herself from all her Thai seasons and sauce.


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Any advice on what food to avoid if you don't want to spend more than one day hugging the toilet and wishing you were in a coma? I'm quite resistant to hot food, so I am more wondering about if there are stuff that are particularly dodgy...that you've had bad experience with. I think i ate some crab curry in Phuket that didn't work out all too well (bummer, as we were headed for Phi Phi the next day)

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