Tips for Cooking Thai in an American Kitchen

Thai food is both nutritious and delicious. It is also low in saturated fat and carbohydrates, yet high in vitamins and minerals. The proportion of protein is just what the human diet needs, so with Thai food, you can fuel your body without all the extras we tend to have in our Western cuisine.

Typical Flavors

Thai food is comprised of a variety of diverse flavors that keep your taste buds stimulated. The combinations compliment one another so that the experience of eating Thai food is pleasing, not overwhelming or exhausting to the palette. Chilies and peppers provide a hot, spicy bite; herbs such as mint, basil, cilantro, and lemon grass offer a gentle flavor and a pleasant aroma. Sweetness comes from coconut milk and fruits while the sour twist is enjoyed from lemon, lime, and vinegar. Bitterness helps to balance the palette. Thai fish sauce, a common ingredient in all kinds of Thai dishes, is both bitter and salty.

Staple Ingredients

In Thailand there is an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables year round, so traditional Thai food is made with the freshest ingredients. Thai recipes offer ample opportunities for you to enjoy locally grown vegetables in season and organically grown fruits and vegetables all year long. Lime leaves, fresh coriander root and leaves, mint leaves, basil and cilantro are all flavor-filled aromatic staples in Thai food. Garlic, chilies, fresh ground pepper, onions, and shallots are also staples. Meat is another staple, but not like meat in Western cooking. Rather than a whole course of meat, Thai food incorporates small portions of chicken, pork, shrimp and fish.

Added Benefit of Creativity

The word “Thai” means “free” in English. This little piece of trivial goes a long way if you employ it into your philosophy of cooking Thai food. Start by carefully following recipe instructions until you are familiar with the flavors and what combinations work well together. Know what you and your family members like best. Then, when you are confident in your Thai food cooking skills, break loose from the recipes and improvise with the ingredients on your own. Incorporate the concept of “free” in your Thai cooking practice and you will discover that it offers you a wonderful creative outlet.


Chop ahead and freeze onions

Keep pots of fresh herbs growing in a garden or in your kitchen

Keep non-perishable items on hand such as fish and soy sauce, rice, noodles,

Plan ahead

Prep ahead by getting all the ingredients out on the counter. Do any copping and place the prepared food in small bowls before you actually put your skillet on the heat and begin to create the meal.

Make large amounts of sauces and curries ahead of time and freeze them in measured amounts for easy use later.

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