Thai Cooking Vocabulary and Ingredients

Thai Recipe Ingredients: Red Curry Paste & Lime Juice

Bottled lime juice is easy to keep on hand
Bottled lime juice is easy to keep on hand | Source

Introducing Thai Food

There is a simple reason why I like Thai food-the marriage of the flavors of sweet and spicy. But, dining at a Thai restaurant is a whole different experience than attempting to cook, 'foreign food'.

It doesn't have to be if you understand a basic vocabulary of Thai culinary terms and ingredients. For many years I talked about the delectable dishes I enjoyed at Thai restaurants to my daughters. Christa finally surprised me one year with a Thai cookbook as a Christmas gift. Still, it has been a slow process for me to gain enough confidence to move forward with the foods I love.

In the course of understanding the basic ingredients to many Thai foods, I came up with a delicious Shrimp Thai Soup that I wrote about previously. More recently I experimented with two of my delights: crepes and mangos, and cooked up a batch of delicious Thai Mango Banana Crepes as a breakfast or dessert treat.

If you like Thai food you can conquer your fears of experimenting with Thai cooking and learn several recipes to serve your family and friends. Learning the basics is not difficult, and practicing what you learn can be fun!

Mangos are frequently used in Thai recipes.
Mangos are frequently used in Thai recipes. | Source

Ingredient Information

Not everyone is savvy to the ingredients that make up cuisine that is different from their own culture. American grocery stores do not always offer the common Thai recipe ingredients to the buyer, especially if they happen to be in a more conservative region of the country. Therefore, a trip to a larger city, or perhaps an Asian specialty shop, may be necessary. Although many of these food items are available only as a fresh product, other items, such as fish sauce or soy sauce, can be bought off the shelf and will not spoil if they are properly stored.

A Glossary of Thai Ingredients

Cilantro-an herb that enhances the flavoring of many dishes. In Thai cooking it is the root that is preferred. The whole cilantro plant, with root attached, can be found in many Asian markets. If this is not available to you, chopping the stems of cilantro can increase the flavor, while using the lacy tops for decorative purposes.

Coconut-coconuts can be easily found in most supermarkets. Although coconut water is now touted for its health benefits, the white coconut meat found inside the shell can be grated and added to dishes. Where coconut milk is used in a recipe a can of regular or light milk is located in the Asian aisle of the grocery store.

Curry Paste-Curry paste can be found in supermarket stores along with other Asian ingredients for creating Chinese or Thai recipes. It usually comes in a 'red' or 'green' form. Curry paste is actually a combination of various ingredients such as garlic, onion, galangal-part of the ginger family, coriander and lemongrass.

Fish Sauce-This is an extract of fermented fish and sea salt. The shorter the fermentation process, the more 'fishy' the smell and flavor. The longer the fermentation process, the more nutty and savory the flavor.

Ginger root-This is a plant that is used for flavorings in Thai dishes, for health benefits, such as an upset stomach, and for aesthetic purposes, due to its flowery blossoms in the spring. Fresh ginger is preferred over a powdered, shelf version, and can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks. You will find fresh ginger root in the produce department of your market.

Lemon Grass-Lemon Grass is indeed a grass that is grown in Southeast Asia. It's long stalks are cut up and added for flavoring in a wide variety of recipes, as well as teas. It has a lovely, citrusy fragrance and is much stronger in flavor than actual lemons. If you cannot find fresh lemon grass in your local grocery store, look in the spice section and select a bottled version.

Thai Chillies-Thai Chillies are small-only about an inch long, but are extremely effective in adding heat to dishes. The unripe chillies remain green, but turn red when ripened. It is important to note that the seeds and ribs are very hot, while the flesh is less spicy. Wear gloves when handling this vegetable.




Thai Mango Banana Crepes

Pure YUM!
Pure YUM! | Source

Ingredients for Thai Recipes

Fruit
Vegetables
Spices & Sauces
lime
ginger root
fish sauce
mango
garlic
red curry paste
banana
onion
cilantro
coconut
carrots
lemon grass
lemon
cucumber
basil
pineapple
red chilies
chicken stock
papaya
baby corn
soy sauce
passion fruit
mushrooms
mint
oranges
tomatoes
oyster sauce
 
 
 

Suggested Recipes using common Thai Ingredients:

Soups and Appetizers:

Corn and Crab Soup with Egg

Shrimp Thai Soup

Sweet and Sour Fish Cakes

Vegetarian Spring Rolls


Noodles and Rice:

Stir Fried Rice

Jasmine Rice with Lemon and Basil

Thai Coconut Rice

Drunken Noodles

Pad Thai


Fish and Shellfish

Shrimp and Pineapple Curry

Spicy Thai Seafood Stew

Steamed Yellow Fish Fillets

Salmon with Red Curry in Banana Leaves


Meat and Poultry:

Beef, Bell Peppers and Lemon Grass

Chicken and Mango Stir Fry

Tamarind Pork

Green Chicken Curry


Sides and Salads:

Cucumber Salad

Thai Noodle and Shrimp Salad

Thai Red Bean Curry

Crispy Tofu with Chili Soy Sauce


Desserts:

Coconut Cream Custard

Thai Mango Banana Crepes

Banana Fritters in Coconut Batter with Vanilla Ice Cream




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Comments 60 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

That was helpful, Denise. I love Thai food but have never tried to cook any of it. I think you just inspired me. :)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Bill, good to see you. I love Thai food and have just now started cooking a few recipes. One day I would like to take a Thai cooking class. Have a good week-it's pouring here in NC. :(


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Very helpful Denise. I have never attempted to cook Thai food, I already keep some of those ingredients in my pantry so maybe I'll give it a try


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

I love thai food and appreciate all the useful information in your hub. Thanks.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 3 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

this makes me hungry Denise! i want one of these recipe!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 3 years ago from Illinois

Dee, I hope you do get a chance to take a Thia cooking class one day. I know it's one of your favorite kinds of food. Not me though. Not sure what it is about Thai food but it just doesn't do anything for me. Good hub though with a thorough list of typical ingredients used in Thai dishes, some of which I like individually (like cilantro, which I love). Voted up


aykianink profile image

aykianink 3 years ago

"Thai Mango Banana Crepes" interesting. Never had that before. Will see if a local restaurant or two has that. (I...have no cooking ability. Heh.)


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

Thai cooking is very famous among world's culinary. I love the spicy taste and most of them use lot of spices. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

Prasetio


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

I love Thai food and have bottles of coconut milk, peanut sauce in my home. Just today I have mad tofu Thai style.

Great hub, Denise.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Rosemay-I sure hope that you give a Thai cooking a try.

Hi Pamela-Thanks for your feedback; glad you found it helpful.

Unknown Spy-I'm glad the hub made you hungry, lol. I think the shrimp soup is on my hub list currently. The other recipe I made will be there soon. :)

Thanks, Danette-I know I'll take one of those classes someday, even if I have to wait until retirement! Thanks for the vote up and feedback.

Hi aykianink-I doubt that you'll find any restaurant with that particular combination-it's just one I created. So, if you find a restaurant that makes crepes then ask for them to make you one with these two ingredients. I'm sure they'll do that for you. :) Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

Hi Prasetio-thanks for your feedback and vote up. :)

Hi Ruchira-It sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

Well, your helpful hub makes me want to do some Thia cooking, too . . . thanks for the inspriation Denise!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Kathi-how are you doing? I hear there's quite a bit of snow up there right now. Time to bunker down and do something different-like learning to cook Thai, lol. Get out a book from the local library or get a cheapie off of Amazon and have fun! :) Stay warm.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I like the sound of Thai cooking ingredients, Denise. Thanks for the lists of ingredients and recipes. I love the sound of "drunken" noodles!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Alicia-ha ha-I always loved that title as well. When I first heard of it I wondered if there was alcohol added to the dish, hence the title. lol Thanks for your comments. :)


mr-veg profile image

mr-veg 3 years ago from Colorado United States

WOW.. you got it all in a nutshell !! nicely done Denise...Keep going on and I am there to follow it up again and again :) .... I only had fried rice till now in Thai food... but sure this will be a new begining ...cheers !!


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 3 years ago from Chennai, India

A wonderfully-written & detailed hub! I am a fan of Thai food. Very recently, I had visited Bangkok and sampled a few of their tasty dishes. I and my mom visited a local Thai restaurant in my home-city and relished some trademark Thai recipes. Your Thai mango banana crepes looked delicious! Rated your article 5 stars! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up, pinned & shared


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Gosh, Mr. Veg-there is sooo much more to Thai cooking than fried rice! I hope you do venture out, lol. Thanks for reading.

Hi iswaryaa, thanks for all of your accolades! I appreciate them, especially since you are from Thailand. I must be doing something right, lol


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

Hi Denise,

thanks for the organized and overall very nice

hub that you have presented here. I've learned

alot that I didn't know before. thanks again.

Voted up


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi torrilynn, thanks for your feedback. I hope you have a chance to try some. Thanks for the vote.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

Oh my, if I could only have one of those crepes! YUM! Thanks for the information and the Thai recipe chart ideas.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Dianne-oh my goodness, they are 'melt in your mouth'. I'll write that hub another time...

Thanks for your comments about the hub. :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

dont know how I miss this Thia delight five stars all the way girl :)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Frank, thanks for your 'star' opinion, :) I've been hard at work this past few weeks and have been away from my computer for awhile. Have a joyful week.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

I love Thai food! Right on the button with the things we need. Thanks for sharing!!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK

Denise, great hub; I love the crepes, they do look 'yum'. I made my first Thai meal from scratch last night - glass noodles with prawns and crabmeat - it was delicious! I would definitely make it again, so simple and everything (except the fish sauce and noodles) was fresh. Packed full of flavour and nice and spicy.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

I've always said I would try to cook Thai, but I just have not. Your Hub has inspired me. I love to eat this food when I go out, but I do want to learn to cook it myself.

Voted Up, etc. and will share.


wabash annie profile image

wabash annie 3 years ago from Colorado Front Range

The information in your hub will be very helpful to me since I want to begin experimenting with Thai foods. Thanks much for sharing it!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Michelle-it's great knowing I'm on the right track with the ingredients. Thanks!

Julie-YUM is right with the crepes. Lucky me if have the right ingredients tonight and may make a batch. Glad you gave the scratch Thai food a try and it sounds delicious.

Hi Mary-Thanks for the votes and share. I was always reluctant to give Thai cooking a try and finally decided to jump in. I've not been disappointed. Good luck.

Hi wabash annie-Thanks for reading and commenting. Good luck with your kitchen experiments. :)


pinto2011 profile image

pinto2011 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

I disliked the first time I ate thai fish, but this time I like reading your hub.


Que Scout profile image

Que Scout 3 years ago from Sydney Australia

Hi Denise

Great hub.

Some readers may not know of culantro. One of it's other names is coriander. Readers may want to check the other names too. See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Pinto-I'm glad to know that you enjoyed reading this hub, despite your first experience with Thai food. I hope you give it another try. :) Thanks, nice to meet you.

Hi Que Scout-thanks for your input about the spice: coriander. I'm just learning about this particular spice in depth myself. I didn't know that its other name was Culantro. It almost sounds like cilantro, which is a herb that is used in many Mexican and Spanish dishes. Thanks for reading. :) Nice to meet you.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

I so enjoyed this hub! Thai is a cuisine that I have not tried making at home but would like to--I just bought my first curry paste and coconut milk--we'll see what comes out!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Ah, enjoy! I'm in the mood for some mango banana crepes. I had a Curry chicken stir fry yesterday with coconut milk which was quite easy and delicious. I simmered the coconut milk in a nonstick pan for about 1 minute and added the curry paste. I let that blend together and added the veggies, chicken cut in thin strips and cooked the chicken within the sauce. I turned it to simmer and let it steam the veggies for about 5 min stirring occasionally.

Hope you find something you enjoy. Let me know.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

O yum! I was wondering about how to blend the two--the paste and the milk--


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Audrey-there are actually numerous ways, however, that is the most recent recipe I've tried. It worked so simply. The curry paste has a bite to it, but as in most spicy foods, dairy products will temper that, so the coconut milk works beautifully.

If you're ever in a situation in which the food you are eating is very hot, ask for milk or yogurt. I've actually eaten yogurt with hot buffalo wings.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

I love Thai food but agree it can be intimidating for the novice cook. I learned how to cook it out of necessity when I moved from Chicago to Iowa 19 years ago and could no longer find my favorite food!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

That's exactly why I learned, Deb. When I first moved to NC the only Thai restaurants were in Raleigh, a two hour drive. In my tiny town there are no ethnic restaurants except a Mexican and Italian. I do get my fill of Thai in Greenville, where I work, but it's fun making the dishes from scratch.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Wonderful and voted up for sure. I now wish you a wonderful weekend.

Eddy.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Eddy-thanks for the vote up and well wishes. Today (Sunday, June 16) is our celebration of Father's Day. Although my own father is deceased, I send out greetings to my brothers and son-in-laws. For us, it's usually a BBQ time. :)


Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK

Thank you Denise, for taking me on a nostalgic culinary trip. I visited thailand earlier this year and fell in love with thai food and its wonderful taste notes- I was lucky enough to taste a lot of street food guided by a thai friend and plenty of home cooking. It was a-may-zing! what a great hub! shared.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

I love, love, love Thai food!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Docmo-one of my 'bucket list' travel spots is Thailand. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub and it brought you on a 'trip' down Memory Lane. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Michelle-I do, too! It's one of my favorite, if not THE favorite, ethnic type food that I enjoy. I've just now begun to be brave enough to try cooking the recipes myself.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

Wow, you really know your thai food! I have marked this...what a useful reference for thai food terms, ingredients and dishes. I also enjoy the delicious balance of flavors and look forward to trying thai mango banana crepes. Sounds absolutely yum! : ) Voted up and shared. And 5 stars!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Vespa-Thanks for your encouraging comments and votes/shares. I was just thinking of making this recipe for breakfast tomorrow! It is so delicious. It's fun having those ingredients ready at hand to use. Still coming to the states in September?


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Awesome about Thai Cooking Vocabulary and Ingredients so interesting and useful to many readers. A lesson for me thanks for sharing this informative hub.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Oh, I'm glad you enjoyed this one, DDE. I love to cook and share what I have learned with other people too.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Thai Cooking Vocabulary and Ingredients great recipe for thought. Food is such a wonder to ones mind and to experiment with new ideas sounds good too.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

I love to experiment with food, and am getting quite good in identifying herbs and seasonings in food. I appreciate your comment. :)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

I hate to have to admit this, but I have never eaten Thai food or even gone to a Thai restaurant. So, this type of cuisine is really foreign to me. Your article is so helpful and thank you for identifying and explaining the different types of food and sauces. For the first time, I feel I know a little about their food. The chart was helpful also. Thank you also for giving us examples of what to eat together and when. I really enjoyed reading this.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hello Suzanne, I'm happy to know that this hub has broadened your understanding of Thai cuisine. I hope you will give yourself a 'field trip' to a nice Thai restaurant. You'll enjoy the service and I'm sure you will be able to find something you'd enjoy-perhaps a sampling of dishes.

Thanks for your comment. :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

I have never eaten any I don't think, but I do like trying new foods, so this is great! and really useful because now I know which ones to try and what they go with, wonderful! voted up and shared! nell


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Nell-I'm not sure exactly where you live or how often you are able to get to a larger city, but I would recommend the adventure of dining at a Thai restaurant at some point. Thanks for your comment, share and votes here. :)


dearabbysmom profile image

dearabbysmom 2 years ago from Indiana

I love Thai food and appreciate your identifying the ingredients. I see some of them on the grocery shelf and have not known what to do with them! Voted up and useful.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi dearabbysmom I'm glad you found this hub helpful...now, onto the adventures of Thai cooking, lol


joedolphin88 profile image

joedolphin88 2 years ago from north miami FL

Not a fan of Thai but I am going to try this out and see if I can change my mind.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Well, thank you for being a good sport and keeping an open mind about a food you don't really care for. Hope this changes your mind. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 2 years ago from Dubai

Great hub on Thai food, useful and informative. Never have tried Thai food but after reading your hub will try.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Oh gosh, Vellur, you are going to enjoy the flavors, I'm sure. Try visiting a Thai restaurant first and experiment with things that seem familiar. If you like spicy-go for it, but otherwise find less spicy foods or request that there not be spice added. They are usually very accommodating. I wish you the best in your food adventure. Thanks for stopping by.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 19 months ago from Nashville Tn.

Thai food is a big favorite of mine. And now with the help of your fantastic hub I'll try my hand at making it myself. It's such a help to have your ingredient list. Big thanks Denise. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and will share.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 18 months ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you very much, Audrey. I'm glad you found it useful. I also love Thai and am in the mood for Shrimp Thai soup right now, lol. Take care.

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