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The Basics Of Thai Cuisine

Every now and then, it’s important to shock your tastebuds a bit. Thai cuisine combines Asian recipes, slow cooking techniques and multiple types of curry to make delicious dishes. Two of the most well know Thai dishes are Lamb Massaman and Pad Thai, but these meals just scratch the service of Thai cuisine.

Thai food is one of the only Asian cuisines that use fresh ingredients more often than dried or preserved ingredients. For example, many Thai dishes include fresh veggies steeped in broth made from coconut milk, along with basil, lemongrass or galangal leaves.

spicy thai soup

What is Thai Cuisine?

Thai food makes up the national cuisine of Thailand. Various elements of Southeast Asia are blended together to create lightly prepared dishes.

Thai fare has a strong aroma and is made from both spicy ingredients and different types of curry, including red, green and Panang. An ingredient that you’ll find in just about every Thai dish and finger food is nam pal, an aromatic, strong fish sauce.

Thai food is well known for its balance of the four main tastes: sour, sweet, bitter and salty. While Thai food may seem like it’s simple to prepare, it’s actually quite complicated to balance these four distinct tastes in one harmonious dish.

Spicy Thai Food

You may notice that Thai food is especially spicy. The chilies that are used in cooking are responsible for that zap of flavor. Chilies became popular in Thailand and the rest of Asia during the 1600s. Today, chili is used in all different forms, including dry, pickled and fresh.

If you’re dining out, you can request that the chef change the amount of spice in a Thai dish to either cool it down a bit or make it even more spicy. Some dishes need a certain amount of spice in order to preserve unstable ingredients.

Sauces and Other Sides

Many Thai foods are served with coordinating sauces and condiments. One popular accompaniment is made up of fish sauce, chopped chilies, garlic and lime juice.

Other popular sides include dried chili flakes, sliced chili peppers floating in rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce or a spicy chili sauce called sriracha. If Thai sauce gets too hot for you, it’s recommended to munch on a piece of cucumber to cool your mouth.

Thai Desserts

While Thai meals most often finish off with fresh fruit, there are a few sweet desserts to choose from, too. Most Thai desserts include coconut, rice and either jasmine or pandan for extra flavor.

Dense Thai cakes or egg-based dishes are heavily influenced by Portuguese cuisine. Thai desserts are often both sweet and savory. Traditionally, desserts are made primarily from fresh fruit. Pieces of fruit that have been cut into different shapes are often served with sticky rice, especially in Western restaurants.

Just like other Thai dishes, Thai desserts often have a strong taste and flavor. Desserts tend to be extremely sweet in order to counteract an overly spicy meal. Coffee, tea or even alcohol are usually consumed along with dessert.

Ryan Berman is a food safety specialist and health researcher. He has been working closely with the restaurant and catering industries to improve health standards. Visit Short Order to find out more about safe food storage.

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