Kitchen Tips

Thai cooking essentials

Thai cuisine is all about balance – the perfect blend of sour, sweet, bitter and salt. Once you round up these essential ingredients, you’re good to floor your guests with some authentic Thai cooking.

thai spices

Photo courtesy of D B Piquero II used under the Creative Commons Licence

Thai cooking essentials:

Thai fish sauce

Nam pla (as it’s called in Thai) is a pungent seasoning made by fermenting fish with salt. Use it with care, similar to how you would use salt or soy sauce as too much may render your dish might be inedible.

Curry pastes

Although yellow, red and green curry pastes are fairly easy to make, they are readily available in many supermarkets and Asian grocery stores. Yellow curry pastes have plenty of turmeric, red curry pastes are made with red chillies, while the green curry paste uses fresh green chillies. Yellow curry is the mildest of the three, where as green curry is the spiciest. Red curry pastes are typically only moderately spicy as they contain less chillies than green curry pastes.


Use rice vinegar in a salad dressing and watch your dish transform. When added with lime, the dish explodes with zing and sour flavours.

Coconut milk

No Thai kitchen is complete without coconut milk. Although readily available in cans, here’s how you can make homemade coconut milk in your own kitchen. How to make coconut milk?


Choose from a range of rice depending on the type of your dish. Sticky rice or also known as glutinous rice is great for desserts, while Jasmine rice is a perfect accompaniment to Thai curries.


There are many spices that have become part of Thai cooking. From fiery chillies to citrusy lemongrass, from fragrant gallangal to zesty kaffir lime leaves. If these fresh spices are not readily available to you, the pastes and dried spices work brilliantly as well. Be sure to test them before adding them to dishes so you can adjust the flavour to suit your taste.


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