Traditional Thai Food For First Timers

Thailand is a country full of charm and customs,with unique culture and cuisine.Thai food is famous for its rich taste,bright colors and tangy aroma.Thai food is not only a kind of food, but also a kind of culture and a kind of life attitude.Let’s introduce Thai food today.

1.Green papaya salad

Most people are drawn to Thai cuisine because of its reputation for hearty, carb-driven dishes. Green papaya salad (“som tum”) is an explosion of brightness that couldn’t be further from this reputation. Great on its own, green papaya salad is ideal alongside noodle and stir-fry dishes.

While other countries in Southeast Asia like Cambodia and Laos also have a signature green papaya salad, the Thai version is arguably the most approachable, and therefore, the most popular. For example, the Laotian version features a fermented fish paste, which can be more of an acquired taste. Typical ingredients in a traditional Thai papaya salad include green papaya, carrots, long beans, peanuts, lime juice, palm sugar, and fish sauce.

Many modern chefs have put their own spin on this traditional Thai dish, and one of the more notable green papaya salads is from Leah Cohen, owner of Pig & Khao in New York City. Inspired by a papaya salad she had in Vietnam, Cohen’s version includes fried taro chips that give the salad a neat textural contrast.

2.Tom yum

In 2021, the government of Thailand took steps for the soup known as tom yum to be officially recognized by the United Nations as part of the country’s cultural heritage. It’s a bold but deserving move in support of a classic traditional Thai dish.

Tom yum soup originated in the central parts of Thailand but it’s a ubiquitous dish that can be found in every Thai restaurant worth its salt. Food historians have had difficulty finding written mentions of tom yum soup before the late 19th century. This lack of documentation, experts say, suggests the soup has ancient origins and has been part of the Thai cultural fabric for so long, there was no need to write down a recipe for it.

If you’re looking to make this traditional Thai soup at home, there is a great tom yum soup recipe over at Mashed courtesy of recipe developer Catherine Brooks. The recipe features classic Thai ingredients like lime, lemongrass, and palm sugar.

3.Panang curry

Thailand sits at a sort of culinary crossroads, and one of Thai cuisine’s most famous curries is named after an island off the coast of Malaysia — Penang. While there’s some debate about whether Panang (or Penang) curry originated in Thailand, there’s no debating its popularity.

Panang curry gets its signature flavor from the incorporation of peanuts into red curry paste. Other ingredients in the curry paste include chiles, lemongrass, cumin, and lime leaves. Typically, Panang curry paste uses fewer chiles than red curry paste. The addition of coconut milk makes this curry sweeter and creamier than red curry.

Chicken is the default protein for Panang curry, but most Thai restaurants give you the option of choosing tofu, beef, or seafood. This curry is typically served in a deep plate or shallow bowl with a small bowl of jasmine rice on the side. Although Asian cuisines are commonly associated with chopsticks, most people in Thailand eat their curry with a fork and spoon. In fact, only noodle dishes are typically eaten with chopsticks in Thailand. The proper way to eat Panang curry starts with spreading your rice out on a plate. Then, you scoop individual bites of curry onto a small portion of rice and eat the entire bite in one spoonful.

4.Pad see ew

While pad Thai is the most popular Thai noodle dish, its cousin pad see ew is fairly ubiquitous and a favorite of many. Like pad Thai, pad see ew likely has origins in China, not Thailand. Unlike pad Thai, pad see ew is built on wide flat noodles instead of thin wispy ones.

Wide flat noodles might be a defining feature of the dish, but the secret to good pad see ew is in the sauce. This sweet-salty sauce is made with a combination of rice wine vinegar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and two different kinds of soy sauce.

Many of the best recipes for pad see ew use both dark and light soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is the kind most commonly found in your local grocery store. It might not be labeled “dark” but that’s what it is. Light soy sauce is thinner and lighter in color. However, it has a stronger, saltier taste than dark soy sauce. The combination of these sauces brings depth of flavor without overpowering the rest of the dish.

5.Khao pad

Traditional fried rice dishes are common in many Asian countries and Thailand is no exception. “Khao pad” is the Thai term for fried rice, and it can be found at just about every street vendor and restaurant in Thailand. Ingredients like jasmine rice, Thai basil, cilantro, fish sauce, and Thais chiles differentiate khao pao from other types of fried rice. Beyond that, just about anything is fair game in spicy Thai fried rice.

One popular version of khao pad includes the spicy Thai condiment known as nam prik, which is a combination of fish sauce and ground Thai chiles. Khao pad saporot is another popular version that adds pineapple and meat or seafood. It’s also common to find curry sauce, sausages, and all manner of fermented foods in khao pad.

Cooking khao pad is similar to making other types of fried rice. First, it’s good to have cooked rice that’s a day or two old. Also, you should cook down your meats, aromatics, and vegetables before adding your sauces. After adding your rice and cooking it until hot, you can add final seasonings like lime juice and fresh cilantro.


Also written in English as laab, laap, and larp, larb is a Thai food from the Isan region in the northern part of the country. Heavily influenced by neighboring Laos, the Isan region covers about one-third of Thailand. Food from Isan is known for its fresh, spicy, and salty flavors.

Larb is a spicy meat salad, a quintessential Isan dish, and one of the best Thai foods you probably haven’t tried yet. Served as either an appetizer or main course, larb is based on finely chopped and cooked fish or meat, which can include beef, pork, and poultry. The chopped protein is typically flavored with cilantro, Thai basil, mint, lime juice, fish sauce, shallots, toasted rice, and a heavy dose of minced Thai chiles. Most Thai restaurants will ask you for your preferred spice level when you order, and you should know that even the most moderately spiced versions of larb can make you feel like a guest on Hot Ones. The is a raw meat version of larb called koi, but unsanitary preparation practices in Thailand have made koi a public health concern.

7.Green curry

Made with coconut milk, fresh chiles, and curry paste, green curry (“geang keow wan”) is one of the most popular culinary exports of Thailand. As with pad Thai, the formal creation of Thai green curry didn’t happen until relatively recently. According to National Geographic, the first Thai cookbooks were written in the 1890s, and a recipe for green chili didn’t appear until a recipe book that was published in 1926. This is a much different story from massaman curry, which is known to be more than 300 years old.

The relative newness of Thai green curry isn’t surprising given the fact that the ingredients to make it weren’t available in Thailand until Western colonialism. Chiles were brought to Thailand from South America in the late 1600s by Portuguese traders. While coconuts were used to make desserts for hundreds of years, they weren’t used to make savory dishes until interactions with Malay, Persian, and Indian cuisines. Before this, Thai cooks used water to make curries. Furthermore, the use of white pepper, ground cumin, and ground coriander in green curry also suggests a strong Indian influence on green curry.

As with most curries, any recipe for green curry is easily modified, yet very forgiving. For example, many recipes call for fresh cilantro, but in Thailand, cilantro leaves are never used in green curry, according to National Geographic. Nevertheless, many Western versions of green chili paste include cilantro leaves.

8.Khao gee

In the Isan region, sticky rice is life. Most people from the region either grow up in a family of rice farmers or have worked in the fields. Understandably, this type of rice is a culinary staple. Not only is it prolific in the region, but it’s also very portable, easily reheated, filling, and contains more energy than plain white rice. It’s also an essential contrast to the spicy, sour, and funky flavors that are common in Thai cuisine.

One popular preparation called “khao gee” involves wrapping sticky rice around skewers in elliptical balls and grilling it. After an initial grilling, the rice balls are basted with a coating of egg. The result is a starchy treat with a range of different textures. In Isan, khao gee is commonly made as a winter comfort food, according to the Michelin Guide.

If you are going to make sticky rice at home, you should know that it takes time. After being rinsed, sticky rice should be soaked for at least two hours — but usually, it’s soaked overnight before being cooked. You should also consider making sticky rice in a steamer because it gives the perfect balance between chewy and sticky.

9.Massaman curry

While a lot of Thai dishes take inspiration from neighboring China and Laos, massaman curry is unusual in that its origins appear to be from South Asia and the Middle East. With a name derived from the word for Muslim, massaman curry includes many spices from curries found west of Thailand, like turmeric, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Massaman curry is also distinct for its lack of chiles. It’s spicy and fragrant, but fairly mild with respect to heat. When it doesn’t incorporate coconut milk, massaman curry is better suited to seafood than other Thai curries that have coconut milk as a defining ingredient. massaman curry is usually made with chicken and potatoes. Given its Islamic roots, this curry isn’t typically made with pork.

Massaman curry is often confused with Panang curry because both curries incorporate peanuts. Different curry pastes are the main difference Panang curry and massaman curry. Panang curry starts as a red curry, which is based on red chiles, while massaman uses a turmeric-based, yellow curry paste.

10.Mango sticky rice

Sticky rice — or glutinous rice — is a staple in Thai cooking and a very specific type of rice. The difference between white rice and sticky rice comes down to chemistry. White rice has two kinds of starch molecules: amylopectin and amylose. Sticky rice almost entirely contains amylopectin. This type of starch breaks apart when exposed to hot water, causing the rice grain to break open and become sticky.

One of the most popular uses of this type of rice is mango sticky rice. Similar to rice pudding, mango sticky rice is the ideal dessert in summer, when mangoes are in season. Other ingredients in a typical mango sticky rice recipe include coconut milk and cinnamon. This dessert goes great with all kinds of food, not just Thai food, and this should be a welcome addition to any backyard barbeque. Perhaps best of all, it takes less than 45 minutes to make.

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