The very word Thai food is enough to make your mouth water and your mind go into fantasy mode! But how many of you are actually aware of the food culture of Thailand rather than just your local favourite Thai restaurant? (It’s us right?!)
Thailand’s food culture offers a wonderful variety of flavours and cooking styles – from rich, spicy soups and curries to clean, fresh salads and everything else in-between.
But did you know the following fascinating facts about Thai cuisine?
- So much so is the priority of food for Thai people that whenever you meet some Thai person, the first thing they will say is “Gin Khao Yung” meaning – have you eaten yet!
- When Thai families sit down to eat a meal together, the food is served and enjoyed communally. This means that instead of each person ordering their own meal or being served their food on an individual plate, everyone helps themselves from a selection of dishes placed in the centre of the table. This way, everyone has an opportunity to taste a range of different recipes. It’s also considered more polite to help yourself to a small portion of each dish at a time, rather than filling your plate with food.
- Thai cuisine is a perfect blend of four seasonings – salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. Almost every Thai dish combines all four tastes. Thai cuisine lays a lot of importance to fresh fruits and vegetables which is very much evident in their curries and every desserts that come loaded with fruits.
- Today, most people view noodles as a staple ingredient in Thai cuisine. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to feast on delicious dishes like Pad Thai. However, noodles were only introduced to Thailand during World War II, to help alleviate a rice shortage that occurred due to the war and floods.
- Generally, Thai take a very wholesome breakfast that includes Joke, which is rice porridge with pork. Kai Jee-o (omelette) and Khao Mun Kai (chicken and rice) are other popular breakfast options.
- Rather than relying on dried or preserved ingredients, Thai cooking calls for a wide range of fresh herbs and spices, vegetables and fruits. This is the reason why Thai food typically tastes so vibrant and is packed so full of nutritious ingredients.
- The whole world knows about Pad Thai but not as much about Pad Mama which is fried noodle with beef and vegetables.
- The basil you enjoy in Thai food is not the same as the herb used in Mediterranean dishes such as pasta with basil pesto sauce. Thai basil is a unique herb that’s indigenous to Southeast Asia – and it has a spicy flavour with notes of aniseed and liquorice. Thai basil is also able to withstand higher cooking temperatures than sweet basil.
- Thai desserts are unique as they are made of coconut flesh, coconut cream and rice flour rather than cream or wheat flour.
- Fish sauce, known as “nam pla” in Thai, is a vital ingredient in many Thai dishes, where it’s used to add a salty flavour, as a marinade for fish and meat, or as a condiment – with a splash of lime and some freshly chopped chilli. If you’re an amateur Thai cook, you may find the fishy smell of nam pla overpowering. If this is the case, simply add some freshly squeezed lime juice and this should help to reduce the fishiness.