A Beginner’s Guide to Thai Food

If you’re a beginner when it comes to Thai food then this beginner’s guide to Thai food will provide you with all the basics to get you started.

It’s no secret that Thai food has grown to be a favorite among many people all over the globe.

A Beginner's Guide to Thai Food

What Is Thai Food?

Thai food is an umbrella term for a variety of dishes originating in Thailand. Thai cuisine varies from region to region, but all regions share the same common flavor combinations: sweet, salty, sour, and spicy (known as “four pillars”).

It uses many ingredients such as fresh vegetables and fruits, herbs, and spices.

Common ingredients include garlic, ginger, red chili peppers (such as long or green), lemongrass.

There are many dishes from which to choose when cooking Thai cuisine at home.

Some of the most popular dishes include Tom Yum soup, Pad Thai noodles, green curry with chicken or beef, red curry with fish, and panang curry.

Is Thai Food Easy to Cook at Home?

Is Thai food easy to cook at home? Yes! like any other cuisine, once you learn the basics and the more you practice the easier it becomes.

There are many different types of Thai food that can be cooked at home, but they all have one thing in common: the use of fresh ingredients.

These foods typically require a lot of chopping and preparation before cooking. Once you get into the kitchen, though, it becomes clear how easy it is to prepare this type of cuisine.

Thai food is well known for its distinctive flavor combinations and balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavors. There are over 100 dishes from which to choose when cooking Thai cuisine at home!

Why Should You Cook Thai Food At Home?

Some of the advantages to cooking Thai food at home are that it is cheap, healthy and you control what ingredients go into the dish.

Cooking Thai will also get you some points in your kitchen skills as it can be difficult with all the spices involved.

The most important thing when cooking any type of cuisine is knowing how to season appropriately and cook each ingredient correctly so they retain their texture or don’t burn while being cooked.

The same applies to Thai food which has many elements such as noodles, vegetables, fish, shellfish, and other meats like chicken or beef.

So if you’re looking for a new skill set to learn this year then this might just be one!

Like any other cuisine, Thai cooking has a steep learning curve especially when using new ingredients, but once you learn the basics it will become easier over time.

How To Cook Thai Food At Home?

The basics of Thai cooking is stir-frying vegetables with sauces or spices until softened then adding meat and/or seafood cooked according to preference before finishing off with an acidic ingredient.

Thai curry on the other hand is a whole other game. It is usually made with spice paste which can be found in any Asian grocery store or online, and then mixed with coconut milk and thickened before adding vegetables and cooked to desired consistency.

The process of cooking Thai food may seem daunting but it’s really not that difficult once you get the hang of it.

One great way to start off learning how to cook Thai food at home is by making green curry chicken. It’s a great dish to start with.

What Cookware Do You Need For Thai Cooking?

No matter what type of Thai dish you’re making, it’s always a good idea to use non-stick cookware.

Non-stick pans are ideal for stir-frying vegetables, and they work great with other types of food as well.

It is also very important to have the right-sized wok or pan so that all ingredients will fit inside while cooking happens at an optimal level.

You don’t need any fancy cookware to get you started with Thai food all you need is a good Wok.

Everything else you would probably already have in your kitchen such as knives, chopping board, serving bowls, etc.

Popular Ingredients Used In Thai Cooking   

Jars of different spices

Cilantro – This is a leafy herb that’s often paired with carrots, garlic, and other vegetables. It can add flavor to salads or soups as well as give green curry its signature color.

Coconut – Coconut is used in a variety of Thai dishes to provide the sweet flavor base for many curries and sauces as well as giving it a creamy consistency when combined with other ingredients such as fish sauce.    

Garlic – Garlic is often used in Thai food to add flavor as well as a little heat.

Chili – This spicy ingredient can be found on the menus of most restaurants and it’s usually served raw or cooked, fresh (deseeded) or dried/roasted, and whole or ground

Ginger – Ginger is an ingredient that you’ll find in most Thai kitchens. It’s used as a spice and it can be found fresh or ground into sauces, soups, salads, etc.

Fish Sauce – A fermented fish-based condiment that provides the savory flavor base for many dishes.

There are many others ingredients such as lemongrass, rice, chicken, fish, etc used in Thai cooking.

For a list of the 10 most used spices in Thai cooking click here.

Popular Thai Soups

Thai soup is usually served as part of the main meal and not as a starter like over here.

Tom Yum Soup 

One of the most common Thai soups, a spicy broth with bok choy and lemongrass.

Tom Kha Soup

This is a creamy, coconut-based soup that includes galangal root, cilantro roots and lemongrass.   It also contains chili but can be made without using chili.

Popular Thai Curries

Thai curries are usually served with rice and vegetables.

Red Curry

A spicy red coconut-based soup that includes green beans, eggplant, bamboo shoots and chili peppers.

Green Curry

Very similar to Red curry but it has a much sweeter flavor from its use of tamarind paste which provides the signature sour note in Thai cuisine.  It also uses kaffir lime leaves for its lemony aroma.

Yellow Curry

This variety of curry is more common in southern Thailand where they tend to use turmeric as part of their base instead or coconut milk. In some cases, this can be made without using any other ingredients besides spices like cumin, coriander seeds.

Massaman Curry

Massaman is a traditional curry dish from the Muslim community. It consists of potatoes, lots of sugar, and peanuts and is one of the heavier dishes you’ll find in Thailand.

Panang Curry   

Panang curry traces its roots back to Laos, and it is popular in central Thailand. It has a more subtle flavor than other Thai curries and is made with dried chilis, lemongrass, coconut milk, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, etc.

Is All Thai Food Spicy?

A tray full of red chilies

Many people are intimidated about trying Thai food because they believe that all of the dishes will be spicy. This is not true!

There are many Thai dishes that don’t have any spices at all.

If you can’t handle too much spice then I recommend you avoid the following dishes as they are super hot!

Kua Kling
Kua Kling is a typical dry curry dish originating from south Thailand and typically made with stir-fried meat. It usually contains an abundance of chilies which are used to make the curried paste.

Pad Prik King
Pad prik king gets its rich dark red color from red chilis.   so if your not a fan of super spicy food then you should stay away from this one.as it will wake up your taste buds.

What Kind Of Noodles Are Used In Thai Food?

A bowl of noodles

Egg Noodles (Ba Mee Hang)

Egg noodles are a common staple in Thai food. These noodles are made from eggs and wheat flour, which provide a chewy texture that’s perfect for soups or stir-fry dishes.

Wide Rice Noodles (Guay Tiew Naam)

Wide rice noodles are a popular type of noodles used in Thai cooking and are especially delicious with stir-fries. They’re made from rice flour which creates a light texture that’s perfect for absorbing the sauces or curries they’re cooked with.

Thin Rice Noodles (Phad Thai)

Similar to wide rice noodles these types of noodles are made from rice flour but they are much thinner. These noodles can be eaten with a variety of dishes, and are often fried to give them more texture. They’re usually served in soups or stir-fries as well

Tips On How To Make Your Own Thai Dish

  • Use fresh ingredients when possible. Using fresh ingredients will always give you the best results. Keep in mind that certain vegetables don’t keep well so make sure to buy them when they are at their freshest and most flavorful.
  • Prepare your vegetables first before cooking anything as this ensures everything is chopped uniformly, which also helps save time later while preparing the dish.
  • Be creative by trying different recipes, spices, cooking methods, and more according to what fits your taste buds or mood at the moment.
  • It’s not always about following a precise recipe but rather finding one that’s suitable for your needs.

Final Thoughts

Thai food is becoming more and more popular each year.  Who can blame it with its amazing bold flavors and textures

Thai food is a flavorful and healthy cuisine that can be enjoyed at home

If you enjoy trying new recipes then I highly recommend giving Thai food a try.

If you are worried that all Thai food is super hot then don’t worry, not all Thai food is super hot.  Some dishes don’t even use chilies at all. 

We hope this beginner’s guide to Thai food has been helpful and has inspired you to try and cook Thai food at home.

If there is anything you think is missing from our beginners guide let us know in the comments and we will add it to this guide.

Let’s share and learn together!

Happy Cooking!

Zac & Terri Signature

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