A Complex Cuisine
Though there are a handful of essential ingredients for Thai food, the essence of the cuisine is complex. There are dozens of recipes containing dozens of sub-recipes, most being regional and seasonally inspired. These ingredients are paired to create contrasts in texture, flavor, and temperature just to name a few. An array of proteins, vegetables, and sauces compliment the plate, however the foundation of most Thai dishes is rice.
Rice: The Foundation of Most Thai Dishes
There are many varieties of rice found in Thailand the two most prominent being “Khao hom mali” (Jasmine rice) and “Khao niaow” (Sticky/Glutinous Rice). Jasmine rice is more popular in central and southern Thailand while sticky rice is the staple of Isaan, in the north. There is a relatively substantial difference in taste, texture, and preparation of these two varieties.
An Extensive Array of Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs
In walking through any Thai market the array of products is overwhelming. In fact, even the Thais often see things they don’t recognize as so many of the products are sourced from many different regions.
Use of Nearly the Whole Animal
Regarding proteins, the Thais use nearly every part of the animal. The myriad of fruits, vegetables and herbs is extensive to say the least (there are 20 varieties of bananas alone). The real talent here is in deeply understanding how to balance these ingredients to create delicious dishes.