A Brief History of Thai Food

Approximately 4,000 years ago, the Thai people migrated from southern China to Siam (modern-day Thailand). Thai food is therefore influenced by Chinese cuisine; for example, the form of stir-frying (Pad). Thai uses its own spices, herbs, vegetables, sauces and cooking techniques to incorporate its own taste, which is different and unique. Indian cuisine has also influenced Thai food in the form of curry (Gang). Not all Thai food is spicy. In some dishes, such as fried noodle (Pad Thai), spiciness is optional. However, the majority of Thais love spicy dishes, such as curry, (Gang), Thai style soup (Tom Yum), and Thai style salad (Yum).

Thai food is unique and delicious. Most Thai dishes are a combination of sweet and salty, and sour and spicy. Each dish has its balance; for example, Pad Thai noodle has a sour and sweet taste; a trace of salty and spicy is optional. Curry is spicy, but you will find sweetness and a trace of salty as well. Thai food is healthy because it contains fresh vegetables, herbs, and relatively small portions of bite-sized meat. (Thais do not use a knife at the table).

Key Ingredients

Thai culinary is an art. A Thai dish contains at least a dozen ingredients. Thai cuisine uses a variety of sauces, such as fish, soy, chili, and oyster. Other ingredients include lime and lemon juices, tamarind juice, coconut milk, garlic, lemon grass, galangal, basil, cilantro, cayenne, and black peppers, bean sprouts, etc. Traditionally, Thais use only fresh ingredients, such as fresh-made coconut milk (Ga Ti) and curry paste (Krung gang) for use in curry dishes. It takes almost a day to make a curry dish. Thai cooking is labor and time consuming.

The heart of a Thai meal is rice (Kaow). Thais eat rice as Westerners eat bread (Ka Nhom Phun). There are several varieties of rice grown in Thailand. The most famous is Jasmine, or fragrant rice. To add flavor and more nutrition to a Thai meal, a stir-fry dish, soup and/or curry are added, which is then known as Gup Kaow.
Thais eat rice for every meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Normally, a person eats rice with one dish of Gup Kaow. At the Thai table, everybody eats rice and shares dishes of Gup Kaow, which is served at once.