What is Thai food? Most of us have heard of it by now. Almost everyone has eaten Thai food in a restaurant at least once, so a guide to Thai food for beginners may seem redundant.
If you’re planning to take kids to Thailand (great idea! ), you may wonder what they can eat. If you’re planning to cook Thai food, you might not know where to begin. Perhaps you are visiting a Thai restaurant for the first time and would like to know what to order and how to order it. For those of you who are interested in Thai cuisine, this guide is for you.
What is Thai Food?
Let’s start by looking at some of the basic Thai dishes. As a result, there is a huge variation in the way cooks prepare dishes, and no two cooks make the same meal at the same time. Try out different restaurants, find the one you like, and be careful of MSG.
In Thailand, there are many tropical fruits and vegetables that are eaten, which are usually finely chopped or shredded. The most common types of protein consumed in Thailand are peanuts, tofu, chicken, fish, seafood, and pork.
Thai food has a special balance of acid, salt, and sweetness. A number of key flavors can be found in this dish, including coconut, palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. The heat is usually created by adding hot peppers to a dish or adding them as a condiment to a dish. In addition to sweet foods, it is also common to add sugar to savory foods as a condiment.
How to Order Thai Food
Restaurants that serve tourists or non-native patrons quite often assume they aren’t up to the heat. You have to ask for your food spicy or with chili. If you don’t ask, they will assume you can’t cope and will serve you “Thai food for beginners.”
In most Thai restaurants located in the U.S, the waiter may ask if you want your food served as mild, medium, or spicy. Or, they base their dish’s spiciness on a numbered scaled–1 for least spicy, 5 for most spicy. If in doubt, start with mild. But the mildest often means no chilies at all. A heavy Thai meal might consist of the four elements below:
- Wet – curries and soups
- Dry – fried dishes without a thick soup or sauce.
- Spicy – could be a soup or dish with plenty of heat.
- Yum – light and fresh, like a salad. Balancing lime, sugar, and salt while cleansing your palette.
If you order like this for one person it will be way too much food unless you have a gargantuan appetite. One curry, soup, stir-fry, or salad is usually plenty in a restaurant. You can order rice with soups and curries or sometimes they will be “over rice” or stir-fried with rice, mixed with rice already. Sticky rice is unusual, but it is a special treat, more common in Laos. You’ll also see sticky rice in desserts such as mango and sticky rice. Sticky rice is a different species of rice, the glutinous texture is not just down to cooking.
Eating Thai Food
Every item in Thai food is pre-cut, making it easy to eat with an Asian-style soup spoon or chopsticks, as well as a variety of condiments.
Normally, Thai soup is served as part of the main meal, rather than as an appetizer. Although they are already filling enough by themselves, some people like to order rice on the side as well. It doesn’t matter whether you have rice or not, either way, nobody will think you’re odd.
Fried Noodles and Noodle Dishes
Thailand has a large variety of different types of noodles, from fine rice vermicelli to fat wide noodles used in pad siew, for example. When you find really authentic floating markets such as Tha Kha floating market, you will also be able to see sheets and clumps of noodle material. There is an ideal dish or use for each type of noodle.
Thai curries are usually made with coconut milk as the main ingredient. There is a difference between coconut milk and coconut water, which is the clear liquid inside a drinking coconut. Coconut milk can either be thick or thin depending on how thick or thin it is made from the flesh of the coconut. There are various colors in the curry that come from the curry paste, which contains spices and aromatics that give it its eponymous color. Almost all of the curries come with the option of a choice of protein, which can be either tofu or a straight vegetable. You will find the following curries to be the most common:
- Green Curry
- Red Curry
- Yellow Curry
The most common varieties are chicken, vegetable, prawn, and tofu. There is a small amount of garlic, soy sauce, and sugar in the sauces. It is not uncommon for people to order them with rice if they are really hungry. There is no grease in them, or at least there shouldn’t be.
Thai Food for Vegans and Vegetarians
On the surface, Thailand may appear to be a paradise for vegans and vegetarians looking for meat-free dishes that can be substituted with tofu-based dishes, but don’t let this fool you; it’s anything but that. In spite of the fact that Thai food is often tofu-based, it was not created with vegans in mind, and dried shrimp, fish sauce, and oyster sauce are relatively ubiquitous in Thai dishes. In order to ensure that your dish does not contain any animal products, you will need to specifically request that it not contain any.