Kitchen Tips

Northern Thailand Essential Ingredients

As we explore the vibrant flavours of Northern Thai cuisine, it’s time to take a peek inside the typical Northern Thailand kitchen, packed with fragrant herbs, fruits and vegetables; pork in various guises; and rice-based carbohydrates.

Vibrant vegetables, fruits and herbs

Betel leaf – aromatic leaves ¬used to wrap bite-sized bundles known as mieng kam

Mieng Kam

Bird’s eye chillies – these fiery little chillies aren’t for the faint-hearted
Cabbage – crunchy cabbage leaves are served with the classic Northern Thai dish of nam phrik ong, a rustic chilli dip with vegetables for dipping.

6 Incredibly Delicious Northern Thai Dishes

Galangal – this aromatic rhizome adds a gentle warmth to soups, curries and salads
Jackfruit – durian’s more mild-mannered cousin, this firm yellow fruit smells and tastes like a tropical holiday. When ripe, it’s used in desserts or eaten as a snack; when green, its meaty texture is ideal in curries
Kaffir lime – these perfumed leaves are essential for larb and other salads.
Lemongrass – another essential herb, lemongrass imparts a gentle citrus note to salads, soups and curries
Turmeric – adds its mellow spice and bold yellow hue to one of Northern Thailand’s signature dishes, khao soi noodle soup

Northern Curry Noodle with Chicken - Khao Soi

Tamarind – Northern Thais love a sour tang in their food, which is why tamarind is a must-have in recipes like this Northern Thai curry called hang lay

Thai northern curry - Hung Lay

Flavour-packed proteins

Sai oua – fermented pork sausage flavoured with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime and chilli
Naem – fermented over two days, this tangy pork sausage can be eaten raw or chargrilled
Deep-fried pork skin – this crunchy crackling is used to garnish curries, soups and salads
Moo ping – chargrilled pork skewers
Mince – minced pork and chicken are popular choices for the tangy salad Thai known as larb. In Northern Thailand, larb is often served raw, gently cured by the citrus

For more creative mince recipes, try 10 wallet-friendly ways to cook with mince

Essential carbohydrates

Sticky rice – made from glutinous rice, sticky rice is preferred over steamed in the north, where it’s used to scoop up sauces and curries, or served with mango for dessert
Khanom Jeen noodles – these slippery white noodles are made from fermented rice, served with sour broth or curry sauce

Khanom Jeen Nam Ya

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