When we talk about global culture, food is an integral part of it among other aspects. Food forms an important part of culture and tradition for a lot of countries, especially Asian countries. However, like everything else when food travels from one place to another, the flavors are adjusted according to the appeal of that country. Recently, Thai food has become a fast-growing and popular cuisine that is loved globally. Food is an extremely important part of the culture of Thailand, and you cannot explore Thailand without understanding its beautiful connection with the flavors. But, how do you know what is the best Thai food to eat? How do you recognize which food is a must have when trying to explore this vast food culture? Here is a quick guide to help you with it!
Before getting into the best Thai varieties, let’s understand what is Thai food? Thailand has a diverse culture, which varies from north to south Thailand. However, there are some common things to look out for when exploring Thai food. First of all, chilies! If it is Thai food, it is hot, so don’t shy away from chilies when exploring Thai cuisine. However, they are not always hot either. The bigger chilies commonly found in Thai cuisine are just like any other vegetable, and filled with vitamin C. Watch out for the smaller chilies that are termed as the hottest!
The best Thai foods come with a lot of condiments to help adjust your dish, however you please. Another important part of the Thai food culture is the soups. It is a part of the main meal, and sometimes can be so filling that people order rice a side with it. Soups will generally contain sticks and leaves, which you are not supposed to usually eat. The two main soups found in Thailand are:
1) Tom Ka: which is a highly fragrant, coconut soup. Yes, you heard that right! The main ingredients in this are galangal and lemongrass. Sometimes Kaffir lime leaves and basil are added for flavor. What prominently may feature in this are Asian mushrooms.
2) Tom Tum: is a hot soup, with chilies and normally does not contain any coconut in it. Most times the stock of the soup is clear.
Next, Thailand has its famous Noodle dishes. These include Pad Siew, which is slippery rice noodles which are fried with soy sauce and contain a spectrum of other vegetables and meats. And then there is the Pad Thai, which is one of most common Thai dishes for people to try. A good Pad Thai has thin rice noodles, which are stir fried with eggs and small pieces of tofu. They come flavored with tamarind, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, chili and sugar. It is often served with lime and peanuts. You can order it alongside meat, tofu or prawns.
Thailand has its curries, which form an extremely significant part of their food culture. They are usually cooked in coconut milk, which is made from the flesh of coconut. They are wonderful aromatics that are used in these dishes and come with a choice of protein to choose from. Common curries in Thailand are:
a) Green Curry: which is green because of the green chili content in it. It usually has fresh coriander, basil and kaffir lime leaf to enhance the taste (and the greenness).
b) Red Curry: whose significant feature is the dried red chilies that its paste is made from.
c) Yellow Curry: Which is richer and creamier than both the other two, because it has a much higher coconut cream content in it. The yellow comes from using turmeric, which is a very Indian influenced flavoring.
d) The Massaman Curry: which is particular to the Muslims and is filled with potatoes, sugar and lots of peanuts!
e) Penang Curry: which a richer and sweeter version of the Red Curry
Along with this, a variety of Thai cuisine comes fried. However, they are not fried conventionally. They are usually fried in sauces which include soy, garlic and sugar. They are not very greasy, since they are meant as filler food while waiting for the main meals to come around.
Food becomes an important part of Thai culture, and there’s a lot to explore within it. If one does it right, then the potentials of exploring Thai food have a wide range of discovery.