Showcasing the Mediterranean diet and Asian diet  

Thai cuisine




Rice and noodles

Rice, to Thai people, represents life, and it's the most highly regarded of all grains. Rice is traditionally served with most meals and accompanies curries, soups and side dishes, or is used to make fried rice. One of the more popular varieties of rice in Thailand is fragrant Jasmine rice. Rice is also ground down into flour and used to make rice noodles which are typically cooked then tossed with stir-fried foods, or added to soups. Bean thread (cellophane) noodles and wheat noodles are also enjoyed regularly.

Vegetables and fruits

Along with rice and noodles, vegetables form the foundation of a Thai meal.

Vegetables of all shapes, sizes and colors are used in traditional Thai cooking including onions, scallions (spring onions), garlic, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potato, carrots, chilies, tomatoes, bamboo shoots, cucumbers and lettuce.

These vegetables are used in a wonderful array of dishes including stir-fries, curries, noodle dishes, soups, side dishes and salads.

Fruit—such as mangoes, pineapples, bananas, papaya and melons—are commonly eaten as a snack and dessert.

Legumes, nuts and seeds

Legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are used regularly in Thai cooking. Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is a popular addition to a wide range of Thai dishes. Peas, snow peas, green beans, bean sprouts and snake beans (very long green beans) are also eaten regularly.

Peanuts are ground into pastes to add flavor, richness and texture to food. Crushed or whole peanuts and cashews are typically sprinkled over foods such as noodle dishes and salads.

Fish and shellfish

Much of Thailand borders the coastline, and fish and seafood are traditionally eaten on a daily basis. Commonly eaten fish and shellfish include tuna, mackerel, sea bass, shrimp, scallops, crab, squid, oysters and mussels.

These fish and shellfish are gently poached in coconut milk curries; steamed in banana leaves; added to stir-fries, noodle dishes, rice dishes and soups; or marinated and grilled.

Meat and poultry

Meat doesn't feature prominently in Thai cuisine. Beef is eaten rarely, and pork is eaten in moderation -- or used sparingly in dishes.

Poultry such as chicken is eaten regularly and is enjoyed hot in curries and rice and noodle dishes or shredded cold in salads. Eggs are enjoyed in moderation and are typically beaten and tossed through stir-fries and fried rice, or hard boiled, then sliced and added to hot and cold dishes.

Seasonings and herbs

To achieve the hot, sour, sweet and salty flavors characteristic of Thai cuisine, a variety of seasonings and herbs are used.

Thai fish sauce (nam pla), a pungent, salty sauce made from fermented fish (usually anchovies), salt and water is one of the most commonly used flavoring ingredients. It's used to enhance the flavor of curries, noodle dishes, fried rice and soups, as well as dipping sauces and condiments. Soy sauce is also used to add flavor and richness to food.

Aromatic vegetables and herbs such as garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro (coriander), basil and mint are a fundamental part of Thai cuisine.

These seasonings are finely chopped or crushed and added to flavor dishes or ground down with a mortar and pestle to create richly-flavored condiments, sauces and curry pastes. Popular curry pastes include red curry paste (typically made with red chilies, garlic and spices) and green curry paste (typically made with green chilies, garlic and spices). Fresh herbs are also added to food towards the end of the cooking process or used as a garnish.

Other commonly used flavor enhancers used to balance flavors include lemon and lime juice and palm sugar (similar to brown sugar, which can be used as a substitute).