Thailand cuisine emphasizes lightly cooked dishes with strong aromatic ingredients. Thailand chef McDang describes Thailand cuisine as sophisticated and paying attention to detail.
Thailand cuisine is said to have a smooth texture, color, taste, and uses ingredients with healing properties and good taste. Thailand cuisine also cares about appearance, smell, and taste.
David Thompson an Australian chef who is an expert in Thailand cuisine noted that unlike other food, Thailand cuisine includes, juggling dissimilar elements to create a harmonious finish. Thailand cuisine is like a musical note, it has a nice finish.
Traditional Thailand cuisine is divided into four categories; tom (cooked dishes), yams (spicy salads), tam (crushed food) and gaeng (curry).
In 2017, seven Thailand dishes were included in the list of “50 Best Foods in the World”—an online survey of 35,000 people around the world by CNN Travel.
Thailand cuisine was traditionally eaten by hand when people were sitting on mats, floors or when food where kept on a coffee table in a middle-class family — customs are still found in more traditional households.
However, today most Thais eat with a fork and a spoon. Tables and chairs were introduced as part of a westernization campaign during the reign of King Mongkut Rama IV.
Essential to Thai cooking is the practice of Khluk, which is mixing the tastes and textures of various dishes with rice on a plate.
The food is pushed with a fork held in the left hand into a spoon held in the right hand, which is then brought to the mouth.
A traditional ceramic spoon is sometimes used for soup, and knives are not usually used on the table. Thais and hill tribes living in Lanna and Isan use sticky rice as food, forming it into small balls, sometimes smoothing them with their hand (and only with their right hand), which are then immersed in side dishes.
Thailand cuisine generally consists of rice with additional dishes. All dishes are served at the same time, including soups.
It is also customary to provide more dishes than guests at the table.
Thailand’s family meal generally consists of rice with several dishes, which form a harmonious contrast of tastes and textures, with unique cooking methods.
Traditionally, Thailand cuisine uses the quality of five elements. Sauce or seasoning for raw or cooked vegetables (Khryan Chim) is the most important element of any Thai cuisine.
Chrueang Chim, considered one of the staples of Thailand cuisine by chef McDang, is a form of hot chili sauce that has a seasoning called Nam Phrik, which is made from raw or boiled peppers and other ingredients. They are then mixed with other types of sauce, enriched with coconut milk.
Other Thailand cuisines include clear soup (possibly spicy tom yum or soft mashed potatoes), stew, curry (essentially any dish indicated by the Kaeng prefix), fried meat, fried fish, seafood, and vegetable dish.
The preparation of most Thailand cuisine involves the use of fresh herbs and spices. Typical Thailand flavors include garlic, galangal, cilantro, lemongrass, shallots, pepper, kaffir lime leaves, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and pepper.
Palm sugar obtained from the juice of some Borassus palm trees is used to sweeten dishes, while lime and tamarind, can be used to make sour dishes.
The meat used in Thailand cuisine usually consists of pork and chicken. Duck, beef and water buffalo can be used too. Goats and sheep are rarely eaten, except for Muslim Thais.
In the 1960s, the development of agricultural complexes such as Thailand Charoen Pokphand Foods caused a lot of wildlife loss affecting the availability of meat in Thailand.
Traditionally, fish and crustaceans play a vital role in the diet of Thais. In 2006, the average fish consumption per person was 33.6 kg.
Freshwater varieties come from many inland rivers, lakes, ponds, rice fields, as well as from seafood from the tropical seas of the southern part of the country.
Some species, such as giant river shrimp, need brackish water for their young but live their lives in freshwater when they mature.
Aquaculture species such as Nile tilapia, catfish, tiger shrimps, and bloody husks currently produce most of the seafood sold and exported from Thailand.