Common Thai Ingredients
Every cuisine has its usual suspects, those ingredients that are found in many dishes and become a shorthand for the culinary tradition as a whole.
In the case of Thai cuisine, those ingredients combine to create one of the most aromatic, flavorful cuisines in the world. Taken individually, many of those ingredients prove intensely flavorful in their own right.
Chilies: Chilies are part of Thai cuisine in a number of ways, in different colors, dried or fresh. From bird’s eye to cayenne chilies, jalapeños to serranos, chilies are a usual suspect when it comes to Thai food’s spicy reputation.
Vinegar: Plain rice vinegar is commonly used and is notable for the sourness it brings to dishes. It can also be found in many condiments.
Lime: Not only is lime juice used to add refreshing tartness to Thai dishes, but lime leaves are also included in meals to lend more floral notes to the food.
Garlic: Crushed or minced garlic cloves help form the foundation to many Thai dishes, as they’re often added to hot oil to make a base for cooking other dishes.
Rice: While not noted for strong flavor, the importance of this starchy staple to Thai cuisine can’t be overlooked. The kind of rice will vary by region, with sticky (glutinous) rice being more common in North and Northeast Thailand, while jasmine rice dominates in the rest of the country.
Coconut Milk: Used most notably in Thai curries, the milk’s sweet yet savory richness melds with the many spices for a satisfying combination of flavors and textures.
Fish Sauce: The briny, savory sauce is found in many dishes as well as at restaurant tables as a condiment. Its potent tang adds a liveliness, without which, Thai food wouldn’t be the same. For more about this Thai staple, check out our previous post dedicated to it: here.
The next time you’re partaking in some Thai food, see if you can notice any individual ingredients. Each is an essential element to your incomparable sensory experience.