The Food Of Thailand

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Typically speaking, Thai food uses many of the same core ingredients as other South East Asian countries (chilli, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice). However, it manages to retain an entirely unique flavour of its own. The essence of Thai cuisine is all about balance. The perfect harmony between sweet, sour, hot and salty is the foundation of any Thai dish. Flavourful aromatics, such as galangal and lemongrass, tone down overpowering spices, while salty sauces are mellowed with sugars and offset by acids, such as tamarind and lime. 

The Food Of Thailand

Regional Cuisine

Thailand’s various regions all have their own complex cooking styles, flavour combinations and unique dishes. For example, in the north of Thailand steamed glutinous (sticky) rice is preferred to jasmine rice of the central region. They tend to be thinner, without the coconut milk and cream that is widely used in central and southern Thai cooking. The influence of neighbouring China, Burma and Laos are also more apparent in northern Thai cooking.

Southern Thailand sees greater rain, has many coconut plantations and a strong fishing industry. As a result, seafood dishes are highly popular here and the richness of coconut is tempered with sour fruits and hot chillies. Southern Thai food is some of the hottest in the country. More complex spice blends are also seen here, with influences from Malaysia and Indonesia also apparent.

The food of the central plains is perhaps the most complex of all, with the influence of Royal Thai cuisine being most strongly felt here. These sophisticated dishes, which use many ingredients, represent the type of Thai food that foreigners tend to be most familiar with.

Snacking

Aside from meals, Thais are renowned ‘snackers’. It’s so easy to pick up a quick & delicious snack for next to nothing along the roadside or at marketplaces. Popular snacks consist of spring rolls, roti, noodles, satay, dumplings, raw vegetables with a spicy dip, soups, salads, and sweets.

Eating

Rather than being served in courses, Thai food is generally presented all at once, so that diners can enjoy a banquet of pungent, contrasting dishes. Rice is an absolute essential part of every meal. Characteristically, on the table there will also be soup, some curries and side dishes. With Thailand’s bountiful variety of tropical fruits available, fruit is popular for dessert but there is also a wide selection of colourful Thai sweets.

Although the Chinese brought chopsticks to Thailand long ago, most Thais prefer to use Western cutlery, consisting of a fork and large spoon. The spoon is held in the right hand and used in place of a knife. Thai people rarely combine various foods on their plates, but rather sample one dish at a time (with a mound of fragrant rice on the side). Bowls are used mainly for soup, not in place of a plate.

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