Typical food of thailand

Geographic setting and environment

Comprising an area of ​​514,000 square kilometers (198,456 square miles) in Southeast Asia, Thailand (formerly known as Siam) extends almost two-thirds down the Malay Peninsula. Comparatively, the area occupied by Thailand is just over twice the size of the state of Wyoming.

Thailand can be divided into five large physical regions: the central valley, facing the Gulf of Thailand; the northern and northwestern continental highlands, which contain Thailand’s highest point, Doi Inthanon (2,565 meters); the northeast, much of it often called the Khorat Plateau; the small coastal region in the southeast facing the Gulf of Thailand; and the Malay Peninsula, which stretches nearly 960 kilometers (600 miles) from the central valley in the north to the Malaysian border in the south.

Thailand has a tropical climate. In most of the country, the temperature rarely drops below 55°F (13°C) or rises above 95°F (35°C).

History and food

Until 1939, the country we call Thailand was known as Siam. It was the only country in Southeast Asia that was never colonized by the West. This helped Thailand maintain its own special cuisine (cooking style). However, that cuisine had already been influenced by Thailand’s Asian neighbors.

The Thai people migrated to their present homeland from southern China about 2,000 years ago. They brought with them the spicy cuisine of their native Yunan province, as well as their staple food, rice. Other Chinese influences in Thai cuisine included the use of noodles, dumplings, soy sauce, and other soy products. Like the Chinese, the Thais based their recipes on the mixture of five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and hot.

From nearby India came not only the Buddhist religion, but also spicy condiments such as cumin, cardamom and coriander, as well as curry dishes. The Malays, to the south, shared more condiments, as well as their love of coconuts and satay (a dish that is similar to shish kebabs). Since 1970, Thai cuisine has become very popular in both North America and Great Britain.

Thai food

Rice is the main staple of the Thai diet. Thai people eat two types of rice: standard white and glutinous or sticky rice. Sticky rice rolled into a ball is the main rice eaten in northeast Thailand. It is also used in desserts throughout the country. Rice is eaten at almost every meal and is also made into flour used in noodles, dumplings, and desserts. Most main dishes use beef, chicken, pork, or seafood, but Thais also eat vegetarian dishes.

Thai food is known for its unique combinations of seasonings. Although hot and spicy, Thai cuisine is carefully balanced to bring out all the different flavors in a dish. Curry (dishes made with a spicy powder called curry) is a mainstay of Thai cuisine. Hot chili peppers appear in many Thai dishes. Other common flavorings include fish sauce, dried shrimp paste, lemongrass, and the spices coriander, basil, garlic, ginger, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. Eaten with most meals, the soup helps balance the hot flavors of many Thai dishes, including steamed rice, soft noodle dishes, and sweet desserts. Many dishes are served with sauces, such as Nam Pla Prik, for dipping.

Coconuts play an important role in the Thai diet. Coconut milk and grated coconut are used in many dishes, especially desserts. Thais eat a variety of tropical fruits for dessert, including mangoes, papayas, custard apples with scaly green skin, and jackfruit, which is large and prickly with yellow flesh.

Thai food differs a bit from region to region. Seafood is popular in the southern coastal areas. Muslims in that part of the country prefer curry. The hottest food is found in the Northeast.

Nam Pla Prik (Dipping Sauce)

It is provided at the table at all Thai meals, in the same way that salt and pepper are provided at most tables in Europe and North America.


  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce (available at supermarkets and Asian food stores)
  • 2 tablespoons of water


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. If the sauce is too salty, add more water.
  4. Serve at room temperature in individual bowls.
  5. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, tightly covered.

Nam Pla Prik Thai Sauce

Thai Beef Curry 8portions


  • 10 ounces of beef with the fat trimmed.
  • 2 cups of coconut milk, without sugar.
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 cup of bamboo strips
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 20 fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons green peas, frozen
  • 2½ cups steamed rice


  1. Cut the steak into pieces ¼-inch thick, 2-inches long, and about 1-inch wide.
  2. Heat a cup of coconut milk in a wok or frying pan and add the red curry paste.
  3. Stir to dissolve and cook on high for 5-6 minutes, until the oil from the coconut milk rises to the top and the sauce thickens.
  4. Add the fish sauce and mix it.
  5. Add the second cup of coconut milk and the meat. Reduce heat to medium.
  6. Add the bamboo shoot strips and the sugar. Return the heat to high and add 3 tablespoons of water.
  7. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes until bubbly.
  8. Add ¾ of the basil leaves, red pepper strips, and green peas.
  9. Stir and cook for another 30 seconds, folding all the ingredients into the sauce.
  10. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving plate.
  11. Top with remaining basil leaves and additional red pepper flakes.
  12. Serve immediately, accompanied by steamed rice.

Thai Beef Curry

satay chicken 8portions


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 spoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Small amount of oil or coconut milk
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • Lettuce leaves


  1. Cut the chicken breasts into thin slices lengthwise. Each slice should be about 4 inches by 1 inch by ¼ inch. (Optional: Place chicken in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to make it easier to slice.) Put chicken strips in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, solids first, then liquids, to the bowl. Toss until well mixed.
  3. Let chicken marinate (absorb flavor) in refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  4. When you are ready to cook the satay, toss the chicken into the sauce and remove.
  5. Thread each slice onto a skewer, pushing the skewer in and out through the middle of the slice.
  6. Rub (rub) the chicken with oil or coconut milk and roughen it on a barbecue or under the grill.
  7. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, watching carefully and turning to prevent chicken from burning.
  8. Just once again with oil or coconut milk. The satay is done when it is golden brown and crisp around the edges. Serve with an optional garnish of fresh coriander leaves.

satay chicken

Cucumber salad 4-6portions


  • 1 long cucumber
  • ½ small red onion
  • ⅓ medium red pepper
  • 1 spoon of sugar
  • Vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • fresh coriander leaves


  1. Wash and dry the cucumber, and peel it if desired.
  2. Cut in half lengthwise and then into quarters.
  3. Cut the quarters into ¼-inch pieces and place them on a plate.
  4. Cut the red bell pepper and onion into thin strips. Scatter them over the cucumber.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, and salt.
  6. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and top with the coriander leaves.

cucumber salad

Food for religious and festive celebrations

Although most Thais are Buddhist, there are no food taboos in Thailand. Thais celebrate a number of seasonal festivals and Buddhist holidays with parties and banquets. Some of the foods eaten at these meals have symbolic meaning. Among them are “golden threads,” a thin layer of egg or noodles wrapped around small pieces of food. They are believed to bring good luck and wealth to the person who eats them. Like the Chinese, the Thais believe that long noodles symbolize long life. Grilled, baked, or fried chicken is a popular food for holiday feasts. While daily meals end with fruit, sweet desserts are served on special occasions. These fall into two categories: cakes (kanom) and liquid desserts, such as bananas and coconut milk.

One of the most important holidays is Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, which is celebrated in April. People throw buckets of water at each other so everyone can start fresh next year. Egg rolls are traditionally eaten at Songkran as well as other festivals. Custard is another traditional dish served at Songkran.

Poa Pee (Thai Egg Rolls)


  • 3½ ounces (half a package) rice noodles or cellophane noodles
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 cup shredded bean sprouts or kale
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ¼ tablespoon pepper
  • ½ clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 package of lumpia papers (rice paper wrappers can be substituted; both are sold in the gourmet or frozen section of the supermarket or Asian grocery store)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 black mushrooms (optional; sold in Asian grocery stores and some supermarkets and gourmet stores)
  • 1 egg


  1. If black mushrooms are used, soak them in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
  2. Discard mushroom stems and shredding caps.
  3. Soak noodles in hot water according to package directions. When soft, drain and cut into 2-inch pieces with a sharp knife or scissors.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs well. Add black mushrooms, noodles, pork, beef, carrots, bean sprouts, onion, fish sauce, pepper, garlic, and sugar. Mix well.
  5. Place a wrapper on a flat surface. Cover the remaining wrappers with a slightly damp kitchen towel so they don’t dry out.
  6. Put about 1½ tablespoons of filling just below the center of each wrapper and fold it into a roll. Press the edges to seal.
  7. In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium heat for 1 minute.
  8. Carefully place 3 rolls in oil and fry slowly for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and fry the other side for 10 minutes.
  9. Keep the fried rolls warm in the oven at 200°F.
  10. Serve hot with individual bowls of nam pla prig or with sweet and sour sauce.

Poa Pee (Thai Egg Rolls)

Sang Ka Ya (Thai Coconut Custard) 12portions


  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 cup finely chopped winter squash with seeds and rind removed


  1. In a deep bowl, beat the eggs well.
  2. Add the brown and white sugars and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add the coconut milk and pumpkin and stir well.
  4. Pour mixture into 9-by-9-inch baking pan or 9- or 10-inch cake pan.
  5. Put ½ cup of water in a steamer or dutch oven large enough to hold the flan.
  6. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, and place a saucepan with custard in it.
  7. Cover and steam over high heat for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve at room temperature.

Banana with coconut milk 10portions


  • 12 semi-ripe bananas
  • 4 cups fresh or canned coconut milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt


  1. Peel the bananas and cut them into quarters. Place it in a steamer over boiling water. Steam for 20 minutes; lay aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the coconut milk, sugar, and salt over high heat. As soon as it boils, add the plantains.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.
  4. Serve hot.

Banana with coconut milk

Mealtime customs

Thai people are famous for their love of snacks. There are food stalls near every public place due to the Thai custom of eating all day. These stalls sell hundreds of different snacks. Among the most popular are fish cakes, egg rolls, fried rice and noodles served with a selection of condiments.

Thais eat three meals a day, plus lots of snacks. Dinner is the main meal. Breakfast usually consists of fried rice, boiled eggs, and leftovers from the previous day’s dinner. Lunch is usually a one-dish meal of rice or noodles. The main meal, eaten at dinner time, consists of several different dishes chosen to balance the different flavors and cooking methods. Soups are served with most main meals and are eaten throughout the meal. A typical dinner is steamed rice, a curry dish, a vegetable dish, a cold salad, and soup. Rice is the only food that is placed on each person’s plate. All other dishes are brought to the table in serving bowls, and people serve themselves.

Unlike their Asian neighbors, Thais don’t use chopsticks unless they’re eating noodles. Most of the time they use a flat-bottomed fork and spoon. The fork is only used to push the food onto the spoon, not to bring it to the mouth. The food is already cut into bite-sized pieces, so no knife is needed.

Holiday menu

  • Poa Pee (egg roll)
  • Spicy meat salad with lemongrass sauce
  • spicy mint noodles
  • chicken with basil
  • Sang Ka Ya (custard)

Thais like their food to be pleasing to the eye and taste buds . They carve fresh fruits and vegetables into elegant shapes and serve prepared foods in pretty containers.

Ka Nom Jeen Sour Nam (Pineapple Fish Noodles)


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds fish fillets, cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained completely
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Fresh mint and coriander for topping (optional)


  1. In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over high heat for 1 minute.
  2. Add the fish, garlic and ginger.
  3. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until fish turns white.
  4. Add the pineapple, coconut milk, fish sauce, pepper, sugar, and cayenne pepper and stir well.
  5. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
  6. Serve over hot rice noodles, topped with fresh mint and coriander.

Pad Thai

This is the most famous noodle dish in Thailand.



  • 12 ounces Pad Thai noodles
  • 8 cups of cold water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 16 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (veins removed)
  • 2 ounces firm brown tofu, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup crushed unsalted peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2½ tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar or 1½ tablespoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper or crushed cayenne pepper
  • 3 ounces fresh bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup leeks, cut into 1½ to 2-inch-long shreds


  1. In a large bowl, soak the noodles in cold water for 45 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander (special container with holes for draining) and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  4. Add the garlic and sauté until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the shrimp and tofu and sauté for a minute.
  6. Add the eggs and stir 30 seconds.
  7. Add the noodles, peanuts, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, paprika and red pepper and stir constantly for 3 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with bean sprouts and leeks and serve.

pad thai typical dish of thailand

Chicken and coconut soup 6portions


  • 14 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 lemongrass stick
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 fresh hot chili peppers
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • fresh coriander leaves


  1. Cut the chicken into thin strips.
  2. Once he crushed lemongrass with a rolling pin. Cut it into one-inch slices.
  3. Cut the ginger into thin slices and cut the chilies in half.
  4. Heat the coconut milk and water in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. (Don’t let it boil.)
  5. Add the lemongrass, ginger and chilies and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring continuously and not allowing the liquid to boil.
  6. Add the chicken strips and cook for 5 minutes, stirring over medium heat, until the chicken is cooked through. Lower the heat if the mixture begins to boil.
  7. Add the lemon juice, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar.
  8. Stir and continue cooking for another minute or two.
  9. Pour the soup into a pot and serve immediately, topped with fresh coriander leaves.

thai chicken coconut soup

Politics, economics and nutrition

About 24% of Thailand’s population is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means that they are not getting adequate nutrition in their diet. Almost the entire population (94%) has adequate access to health services. Of children under five, about a quarter are underweight and nearly 22 percent are stunted (short for their age).

Despite malnutrition, Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice, accounting for more than 22% of the value of all agricultural exports in 1997. It also provides about 95% of world exports of cassava (tapioca). However, the government has initiated large-scale irrigation projects, introduced higher-yielding rice varieties, and encouraged mountain villagers to grow coffee, apples, strawberries, and other crops in an effort to increase exports and compete in the world market.

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