Variety is the spice of life. So, with four main regional cuisines, plus Thai Royal Cuisine, each producing dishes that use different ingredients and preparation styles and often incorporating varying influences from neighbouring countries, Thailand has variety and spice, in spades.
Despite this diversity, the universal genius of Thai dishes is that although they can be quite hot and spicy, they also tend to be well balanced, thereby ensuring that none of the flavours are lost. So, while southern curries will include coconut milk and tumeric, and in the northeast, where there are no palm trees, lime is used, the same principle of balance applies.
Thai cusine embraces unique combinations of seasonings and light preparation techniques, to ensure that either the dish or the meal touch all four taste senses - sour, sweet, salty and bitter. Common ingredients include several varities of chillies while nearly all dishes use nam pla, an aromatic fish sauce. Other flavour enhancers include kapi, a fish paste, and nam phrik, regional chillie pastes.
Herbs commonly used include fresh coriander, lemon grass, Thai basil and mint, along with ginger, galangal, tamarind, garlic, soy beans, peppercorns and kaffir lime.
Rice is a meal staple, and while jasmine rice is indigenous to Thailand, in the north they prefer sticky rice. Popular Thai dishes include Tom Yam Goon, a spicy aromatic soup, Pad Thai, a noodle dish, Gai Med Ma Moung, green curry chicken, and Massam Curry.
One important thing to remember when eating Thai is that it’s all about sharing. Meals are made for everyone to enjoy, so … enjoy!