What is unique about Thai food
Food and cuisine in Thailand
Eating in Thailand - Delicious variety with international influence
Eating in Thailand means a delicious combination of crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs and delicate spices in connection with meat from chicken, “gai”, pork, “moo” or delicious seafood. Most dishes are based on so-called sticky rice, "Khao Niao", which is used as a side dish.
Thai food essentially consists of a perfect mix of dishes from various Asian countries, with Chinese cuisine making a not insignificant contribution. The wave of immigration from southern China started a new era of food preparation in Thailand. Cooking techniques such as “stir fry” or deep-frying have been integrated into the country's food culture.
The food, which until then was only boiled or steamed, now opened up new possibilities for preparation. But other nations also influenced Thai cuisine. Immigrants from France, Holland and Japan provided new impulses. The Portuguese brought hot chillies from America to Thailand. The fiery pods revolutionized Thai food culture and so numerous spicy dishes developed. But the Thais changed many of the dishes in a creative and tasty way and swapped the ingredients for the local food. Exciting compositions of exotic aromas, colors and textures were created.
Varied dishes that taste like the sea
Aromatic seafood variants are conjured up from traditional meat dishes from other cultures. Thailand has a great variety of delicious seafood and the cuisine can use numerous types of fish, octopus or crabs. Seaweed is also a common ingredient when ordering a Thai meal. Ingredients such as milk or cream are usually replaced by coconut milk and refined with clever spices.
If you eat in a traditional local restaurant or in one of the countless cookshops in Thailand, your senses will be stimulated even before you actually eat the food. Aromatic scents penetrate the kitchen and cooking area and increase the anticipation of the dishes. The secret are the aromatic spices and fresh herbs that should not be missing in any dish. Four basic herbs and spices go into a typical Thai dish:
The secret of Thai cuisine - Unique flavors that touch the senses
Lemongrass / Takrai
This freshly fragrant and aromatic grass belongs in most stir-fry dishes. It is only roughly chopped or torn by hand. To flavor soups, the grass is simply boiled in the stock.
Ginger / khing
These roots, which are very dominant in terms of taste, add spiciness but also a light, delicately spicy sweetness to the food. Galangai is closely related to ginger in terms of taste.
Basil / Ga Prao (Hot Basil) or Horapha (sweet Basil)
These herbs are available in Thailand as sweet basil or so-called holy Thai basil. Just before serving, they serve as an aromatic garnish on the dish.
Coriander / P̄hạkchī
The beguiling scent of the coriander gives each dish a unique aroma that pampers the taste buds in a delicious way.
In addition to the basic herbs and spices, the delicious pastes provide the basis for the extraordinary taste aroma in Thai dishes. They are available in countless designs and combinations. The aromatic shrimp paste accompanies many of the dishes. But green or red curry paste is also often used to refine the dishes. The individual recipes are often very different, which means a variety of different flavors. In addition to traditional Thai chilli powder, the ingredients of these pastes are usually garlic, shallots and red or green chillies. Other “secret” spice ingredients ensure extraordinary taste experiences. When eating in Thailand, it is always important to have a perfectly balanced balance between sweet, sour, salty and spicy.
You will not miss these 10 traditional dishes during your trip to Thailand:
1. Tom Yam - Thai soups
The Thais love their soups at any time of the day. The excellent noodle soups are even available there for breakfast. Everywhere on the roadside you can enjoy freshly prepared Thai soups in the small cookshops. For example, Tom Khaa Gai, an aromatic coconut soup with chicken, or the spicy prawn soup Tom Yam Gung are very popular. It should be noted that there are also ingredients in the soup that are only used as spices and are not eaten. For example lemongrass, pieces of ginger or galangal, as the extreme aroma would affect the taste experience too much. Incidentally, the Thais traditionally eat their noodle soup with chopsticks. But it is not a problem if you as a tourist ask for a spoon.
2. Delicious foods from the wok
In Thailand you can get numerous tasty dishes from the wok. Most of these dishes are not spicy and extremely digestible and there are also numerous sweet and sour variants. Chicken with cashew nuts, for example, is very tasty. In the vicinity of the sea there are also wok dishes with fresh fish, prawns or other seafood. In many restaurants you can choose your fish for your meal directly from the display. And of course there are also vegetarian specialties with fresh, crunchy vegetables. In Thai cuisine, of course, this does not only apply to dishes from the wok.
3. pad Thai - rice noodles
Pad Thai is undisputedly one of the national dishes in Thailand. These are delicious fried rice noodles that are refined with fresh vegetables, usually with bean sprouts and an aromatic sauce. In the kitchen of Thailand there are numerous variations to choose from. There are fried rice noodles with fish sauce, with meat and thick sauce or with the addition of Thai basil.
4. KaoPad - fried rice
Fried rice, Kao Pad, is not missing on any menu. There are delicious variations for every taste. You can usually choose between a Kao Pad with vegetables, pork, chicken or shrimp. Both dishes are very digestible and healthy, usually not too spicy and very inexpensive.
5. Gaeng - Thai curries
If you think of a typical Thai curry as a dish with the yellow curry spice that is well known here, we will unfortunately have to disappoint you. Thai curries are available in different flavors from mild to hellishly hot. The spiciness of the dish is determined by the color of the curry paste used, which is available in three different colors, namely red, green and yellow. The yellow variant is the mildest. It is often served with beef. This curry variation is followed by the red, usually much hotter preparation. Red curry is available with pork, chicken, fish or vegetables. The hottest curry is served with green paste and is really something for die-hard people who don't mind fiery spicy dishes. Green curry is available with all imaginable types of meat, fish or vegetables. Thai curry is divided into the flavors Paenang and Massaman, depending on the seasoning. Paenang is more sour, while Massaman has an Arabic-Indian touch. To get a feel for the curry, we recommend the mild Massaman curry. It has a nice nutty note. Very often there are also potatoes.
6. Som Tam - Papaya salad
As a salad fan, you shouldn't miss trying the popular Som Tam papaya salad during your stay in Thailand. Alone or as an accompaniment to your meal, this fresh, fruity, spicy salad tastes great. In addition to raw papaya strips, it usually contains tomatoes, carrots, peanuts and often a lot of chilies. The Thais love their Som Tam extremely hot and the locals often have up to 20 chilli pods in a salad. But do yourself a favor and order a slightly weaker variant with fewer chillies in the restaurant. When ordering, just say "Mai Ped", which means "not spicy" or "Ped nit noi", which means "a little spicy". In terms of taste, a trip to this culinary corner will definitely be worthwhile.
7. Yam Talay - Seafood salad
Unlike the Som Tam, this spicy seafood salad is not served cold but lukewarm. It is garnished with all kinds of delicious seafood specialties, such as prawns, fresh fish and mussels. There are also tomatoes, fresh herbs and Chinese celery. The whole thing is rounded off with a tasty fish sauce, a spicy chilli-lime dressing and numerous local spices. Sticky rice, which is wonderful to dip into the dressing, is delicious.
In Thailand people love to grill food on skewers. There are countless variations and flavors here. This is how you can eat deliciously seasoned specialties on skewers in the cookshops. It is also worth visiting the numerous night and food markets in Thailand. Freshly grilled meat and fish skewers are offered here for every taste. In the restaurants you usually eat tasty satay skewers with an aromatic peanut sauce.
9. Laab Moo - Minced pork salad
Laab Moo, also called Larb Moo, is a traditional dish from Isaan. The basic ingredients for this regional meal consists of finely chopped pork with spring onions, lime, coriander, chilli pods, mint, a little sugar and the typical Thai fish sauce. The special combination of sweet, sour and spicy gives this dish the right kick. The traditional sticky rice is served as a side dish.
10. Mukata - Hot Plate
In addition to the typical Mukata restaurants, so-called hot plates are also offered in many other restaurants in Thailand. Often this dish is not found on the menu. If you order a hot plate, a hot plate will be brought to your table. You can grill or cook the food yourself at your table. There are many variations of this. Usually there is a delicious dark sauce, which sometimes tastes a little cinnamon.
Fresh fruit and delicious desserts
In Thailand you can buy fresh fruit almost on every corner. It is particularly fun to stroll along the stands in the lively banana markets. There are not only bananas here, but all kinds of exotic fruits, such as juicy mangoes or fruity pineapples. You can often enjoy delicious desserts such as banana pancakes at the stalls. It's a kind of crispy crepe.
Mango with sticky rice is also a very popular dessert in Thailand. In many hotel complexes you can also get fruit pancakes, fruit salads or yoghurt with fresh fruits for breakfast. On many of our Thailand tours you also have the opportunity to pick fresh fruit straight from the tree. Depending on the season in which you are traveling, you can harvest mangoes, litchis, mangosteens, pineapples, figs or durian yourself. You will remember the difference between the fruit you pick and the fruit you bought in Germany for a long time.
Typical drinks in Thailand:
In most restaurants you get fresh ice water with your meals free of charge, unlike tap water you can drink this without hesitation. Especially in connection with the often spicy food, the enjoyment of this drink proves to be very pleasant.
But also the refreshing fruit shakes on offer round off a delicious meal perfectly. Often you can also order fresh coconut. You will then receive a fresh coconut with a straw from which to drink the delicious coconut juice. There is also beer in Thailand. The most famous brand is Shinga beer. It is light and digestible and tastes a bit sweet. The best way to drink the Thai beer is ice-cold.
Last but not least, helpful tips
Thai food is usually cut into small pieces or so soft that you can break it up with a spoon. You will therefore hardly find knives on your set table. It is preferable to eat with chopsticks or use a spoon and fork. Here, however, the fork is only used to push the food onto the spoon. You will also look in vain for pepper and salt at the dining table. In Thailand, the food is traditionally seasoned with fish sauce or chilli flakes. Only in the hotel complexes that are set up for European vacationers are there spice shakers on the tables here and there.
In the tourist areas, English is fairly widespread on the menus. If there is no English explanation, you have to order in sign language. At the cooking stands or at food carts, you simply point to the food you want and say "Ao to ni krap / ka"(" I would have this one there, please ").
In restaurants, a tip of around 5 to 10% is appropriate. In smaller restaurants or in the cookshops in Thailand, it is not customary to tip.
We wish you bon appetite and a lot of fun exploring the diverse Thai cuisine on your trip to Thailand.
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