Thai cuisine is very diverse and involves many complex dimensions and flavors that might seem hard to replicate without the many ingredients that are involved in making a traditional Thai meal taste authentic. However, there are some basic ingredients that you can stock up in your pantry to lean towards making more Thai inspired dishes that are almost up close to the traditional Thai dishes. Here are a few common ingredients that will help elevate your meals.
This wonderful nutritious, vegan based plant milk is a carrier of unique sweet savory flavors. Easily available in supermarkets; found tinned, canned, in a carton, and available in powder forms or extracted fresh from the coconut itself if you have access. This is a staple to make Tom Ka Ghai which is a coconut milk-based broth. Many Thai inspired curries like the green and red curry also have coconut milk at its core.
Fish sauce is used as a replacement for salt in many Thai dishes and is truly a versatile flavoring ingredient. It adds depth and Umami flavor and an all-round finish to any dish. It is the backbone of any Thai dish and gives not just flavor but delicious complexity to a palate. Investing in a good brand of fish oil can add that yummy finger licking goodness and an explosion of flavor to any dish.
The quintessential chili
Bird’s eye chili is a huge part of Thai cuisine. In dressings, dips, and sauces it plays a vital role in enhancing flavor and giving a kick to the entire dish. A bird’s eye chili may be a specialized but replacing it with the common, serrano peppers, jalapenos or dried red chilies can also amp up the heat and cohesively pull your dish together.
This zesty versatile citrus is used in a variety of Thai dishes. The leaves are used in soups, stocks and broths. The zest is used in dressing, dips and sauces and the juice itself in a variety of ways, cooked or freshly juiced on top to add another dimension of flavor and refresh the palate.
Palm Sugar/ Brown sugar
Thai cuisine always has its sweet notes that are usually enhanced by Palm sugar. Brown sugar, a pantry staple, has similar earthy yet mildly sweet undertones, jaggery might also be a good substitute to use. It is usually used as a balancing agent to mellow down the heat in dishes and tone down the sour flavor that many Thai dishes naturally carry and endorse.
Traditional Thai food has a lot of ingredients that carry the goodness that it is, however, these common staples can definitely ‘Thai –up’ your meals! For more authentic Thai experience, visit Thai Phuket!