You may be unfamiliar with many of the common Thai cuisine staples and its ingredients, which include a variety of sauces, pastes, condiments, fruits and vegetables.
Sauces, Pastes and Condiments
Some common sauces, pastes and condiments you’ll find in Thai cooking include:
- Kapi (shrimp paste): an essential ingredient in a number of sauces and curries, Kapi is a concentrated product of ground, fermented shrimp and salt.
- Nam pla (fish sauce): a reddish-brown sauce made from the juices of fish undergoing salting and fermentation. It’s used as a cooking and dipping sauce. Prik nam pla, a common condiment, consists of sliced Thai chili peppers, fish sauce and lime juice.
- Nam man hoi (oyster sauce): this dark brown sauce is made from water, sugar, salt and oyster extract, thickened with cornstarch. It is used as a condiment and a seasoning in many stir fry, seafood and noodle dishes.
Fruits and Vegetables
A few fruits and vegetables you’ll frequently find in a Thai kitchen include:
- Turian (also known as durian): a large fruit with a thorn-covered husk, turian is extremely fragrant. Inside the husk is a savory yellow meat that is eaten plain or synthesized into a paste or ice cream product.
- Makua puong (Thai eggplant): a variety of Thai eggplants are common in Thai cooking, including a small, round variety no larger than a golf ball. Thai eggplant is present in a number of curry dishes, including red and green curry.
- Pomelo: a pale green or yellow citrus fruit that is commonly dipped in a variety of sauces and eaten raw.
- Banana, mango, papaya and pineapple are all also used in many Thai dishes.
Rice and Noodles
Rice is the most common ingredient in Thai cooking. Thai cuisine incorporates several different rice varieties, including black sticky rice, jasmine rice, white sticky rice and Thai long grain rice.
Noodles take the place of rice in several Thai dishes. Rice noodles (made from rice flour and water) come in thin and flat varieties and are a basic component of dishes like pad thai, mi krop, rad na and pad see ew. Thai noodles can also be made from starches like mung beans and potatoes.
If you’re interested in using some of these ingredients to create your own authentic Thai meals, learn about Thai cooking techniques and practices.