What are Some Examples of Thai Cuisine?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The food of Thailand is incredibly varied, although some common threads do run through all Thai cuisine. Depending on what region of Thailand one visits, foods like larb or pad thai may be ubiquitous, or impossible to track down. Different regions of Thailand also have a focus on using unique spices or ingredients which are not found in other parts of Thailand.

Cilantro is often used in Thai cuisine.
Cilantro is often used in Thai cuisine.

Thai food is very popular with consumers outside of Thailand, and a number of restaurants around the world supply all sorts of Thai delicacies. Knowing about some basics of Thai cuisine can help people make informed orders in restaurants, or host Thai-style dinners.

Bananas, which are sometimes fried to make a Thai dessert.
Bananas, which are sometimes fried to make a Thai dessert.

All Thai cuisine tends to use fresh, simple ingredients combined in a wok and steamed or stir fried, and rice plays a central role in Thai meals. As a general rule, a Thai meal consists of an assortment of dishes all brought out together with plentiful amounts of rice.

Thai basil is commonly used as an ingredient in Thai cuisine.
Thai basil is commonly used as an ingredient in Thai cuisine.

The seasoning of Thai cuisine balances five flavors: sweet, salty, sour, hot, and bitter, and condiments are often available to adjust these flavors to taste. Fish sauce, or nam pla, sweet chili sauce, and chili powder are commonly available condiments. The ingredients in Thai cuisine vary, but coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, lime, galangal, kefer lime leaves, tamarind, cilantro, and chilies are all common inclusions in Thai food.

Thai desserts include mango with sticky rice.
Thai desserts include mango with sticky rice.

In addition to being served plain, rice is also used in Thai cuisine to make a number of things, including noodles of various thicknesses and wrappers for spring rolls which may be served fresh, steamed, or fried. Thailand has a number of noodle dishes, including the famous pad Thai. In addition to pad Thai, it is also possible to find rad na, a noodle dish with a rich gravy, and pad see ew, a stir fried dish with wide noodles and soy sauce.

Spring rolls can be fried, steamed or served fresh.
Spring rolls can be fried, steamed or served fresh.

Thailand is also well known for a wide assortment of spicy to mild curries. Green, yellow, and red curry are available in many parts of Thailand, along with Massaman curry, an Indian inspired dish. Curries are perhaps one of the better known features of Thai cuisine, along with soups like tom yam and tom kha gai. In the Northeast, some cooks also make larb, a sour salad garnished with mint. In Central Thailand, satay and other grilled dishes are often available.

Satay is popular in Central Thailand.
Satay is popular in Central Thailand.

Thai cuisine is complemented with a number of desserts, such as sticky rice with mango, a very popular sweet finish to a filling Thai meal. Fried bananas and ice cream are also not uncommon, along with sweet potato pudding. And, of course, no Thai meal would be complete without plentiful helpings of sweet Thai iced tea, blended with coconut milk.

Thai recipes often call for rice.
Thai recipes often call for rice.
Chicken Pad Thai is one of the most recognizable examples of Thai cuisine.
Chicken Pad Thai is one of the most recognizable examples of Thai cuisine.
Mint is often found in Thai Cuisine.
Mint is often found in Thai Cuisine.
With its high smoking point and mild flavor, peanut oil is ideal for making pad thai and other Thai stir-fry dishes.
With its high smoking point and mild flavor, peanut oil is ideal for making pad thai and other Thai stir-fry dishes.
Many Thai cooks serve fresh spring rolls along with a dipping sauce made with sweet chilies and pungent fish sauce.
Many Thai cooks serve fresh spring rolls along with a dipping sauce made with sweet chilies and pungent fish sauce.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

stoneMason

I'm going to make mango sticky rice dessert today. I've had it before and it's super easy to make. I just need to pick up coconut milk. I already have ripe mango and the rice. I don't eat much of Thai food but I like this dessert. It's simple and not too sweet.

turquoise

@donasmrs-- I've never had Pad Thai but you make it sound so good that I will definitely try it soon.

I've just had Thai appetizers and Thai iced tea at a gathering at a friend's house. There were Thai spring roles, chicken satay and coconut cakes. They were all simply amazing. But what I loved the most was the Thai iced tea which is very creamy and sweet. And it has a lovely orange color. It's not something I could have every day, I'm sure it's a calorie rich drink but it's a delicious cold drink. I'm not much of a tea person generally, but I loved Thai iced tea.

donasmrs

The best noodle dish I've ever had is spicy Pad Thai. I had it for the first time several years ago. I ordered it randomly at a Thai restaurant and was seriously not prepared to eat something so good.

It was spicy beef and peanut Pad Thai. But the most amazing thing about it was the rice noodles that are very wide and just the perfect texture and softness. Usually, noodles are firm. Pad Thai noodles are soft but they're sweet and sort of melt in the mouth. When combined with the flavors of the beef, roasted peanuts and spicy chili, it's just perfect. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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