Thai cooking

Thai cooking blends the cooking of China, India and Indonesia to create new and exotic flavors. The goal of a Thai dish is to achieve balance between the four different taste elements, sweet, salty, sour and spicy.

Common Thai dishes

Tom kha gai:  Soup made with coconut milk, lemongrass, redchilies and chicken

Pad Thai: Rice vermicelli with vegetables, tofu, shrimp, and sweet/sour sauce from tamarind and palm sugar

Kao Niow Ma-muang: Sticky rice made sweet with coconut cream and topped with ripe mangoes

The elements of life : a contemporary guide to Thai recipes and traditions for healthier living
Su-Mei Yu ; photography by Alexandra Grablewski.
Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, c2009.
Discover the Thai approach to food and wellness-and use nature's elements to eat for optimum health, beauty, and spiritual well-beingThe traditional Thai philosophy of diet and health involves eating meals planned around your "home element"-earth, water, wind, or fire-as well as the weather, time of day, and other factors. In this book, award-winning author Su-Mei Yu explains this age-old philosophy and gives you information and recipes to help you prepare meals that will promote better physical, spiritual, and emotional health.She describes the personal characteristics related to the each of the four home elements, as well as the tastes, flavors, aromas, and natural ingredients best suited to them. She shows you how to identify your home element and eat foods that accommodate it through different times of the year and different times of the day. Beauty treatments geared to your home element will help you to relax, rejuvenate, and feel renewed.This beautifully designed book Includes an interactive wheel that helps you calculate your elemental sign Explains how to plan meals appropriate to your home element Offers tempting recipes for every home element, season, and time of day Shares dishes with a delicious variety of ingredients and flavors, from Cold Soba Noodles to Stir-Fried Chicken or Port with Watermelon Rind Contains beauty, mind, and spirit sections with recipes for face masks, hair treatments, and massage oils based on each home element Features more than 120 full-color photographs of finished dishes and life in ThailandWritten by the IACP Awardndash;winning author of Cracking the Coconut and Asian Grilling, the simple, inspiring recipes and straightforward, easy-to-follow advice found in The Elements of Life will inspire you to live according to the elements and follow a traditional path to health, beauty, longevity, and inner peace.
100 classic Chinese & Thai recipes : a tantalizing collection of low-fat dishes from China, Thailand and South-East Asia, all shown step-by-step in more than 360 photographs
Jane Bamforth.
London : Southwater, 2008.
Includes index.
Step-by-step easy-to-make Thai cooking : authentic dishes made easy, with 70 delicious recipes shown in 325 step-by-step photographs
Kit Chan.
London : Southwater, c2008.
Originally published: 1996.
The big book of Thai curries
Vatcharin Bhumichitr ; photography by Martin Brigdale and Somchai Phongphaisarnkit.
[London, England] : Kyle Books, 2007.
Includes index.
Gourmet Thai in minutes : over 120 inspirational recipes
Vatcharin Bhumichitr, photography by Martin Brigdale and Somchai Phongphaisarnkit.
[s.l.] : Kyle Books 2007.
  1. Originally published: 2004.
  2. Includes index.

Thai cooking differs from Western cooking in that flavor takes precedence over ritual. Recipes are very adaptable and can be adjusted depending on what ingredients are available, or on how spicy one likes their food.

When cooking Thai, one can make a full-course meal without spending hours in the kitchen. Thai recipes take a very short time to cook, often no more than 8-12 minutes. For this reason, it is important to have all of the ingredients prepared beforehand and to be familiar with the recipe.

Rice is an essentail part of any Thai meal. 

Instead of saying, 'let's eat' in Thailand, the phrase 'Kin Khao,' or 'eat rice' is heard.

These are some of the ingredients that give Thai cooking its unique flavor:

  • Fish sauce (nam pla): A salty light brown sauce made from fermented fish or seafood; an essential ingredient in most Thai dishes
  • Thai chilies: used in fresh or dried form, also in the form of chili powder (prik pon) and chili sauce (sod prik)
  • Kaffir lime leaves: the dark, glossy, lemon-lime flavored leaves of the Kaffir lime
  • Lemongrass: pale green lemon-scented stalks of the lemongrass plant
  • Coconut milk: made from the pulp of the coconut palm; can be bought in cans at most grocery stores
  • Tamarind: the pulp of the Tamarind pod has a lemony, zesty taste and is used to offset sweet flavors in Thai dishes
  • Galangal: A cousin of the ginger root, galangal has a lemony-ginger taste

From the fragrant smell of steamed Jasmine rice, to the eye-catching color of crisp fresh vegetables, Thai cooking has something to offer everyone. Look for ingredients at a local Asian or International grocery store, and start cooking!

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff