Kitchen Tips

Thai Cooking Oils

An integral part of cooking Thai food requires using the right types of oils. The most commonly used oils are coconut and palm oil because of their low smoke rate. These oils have a high smoke point and do not break down easily. Other oils such as sunflower, corn and peanut oil are also considered as suitable alternatives. Olive oil, on the other hand, is not considered a part of the Thai cooking because of its low smoke point. Since olive oil breaks down quickly upon heating, it is considered not as suitable for stir fries.

Some of the benefits of these Thai cooking oils are as follows:

Coconut Oil

Contrary to popular belief, recent studies have proven that use of coconut oil on a regular basis can help improve energy expenditure and aid in burning body fat. The general good health of the Thai is the direct reflection of their use of coconut oil for cooking. Most of the saturated fats in coconuts are considered to be harmless and are helpful in maintaining good health. Coconut oil is also said to reduce the risk of heart disease; moderating the level of level of blood cholesterol by increasing HDL cholesterol (the good kind). If you love the aroma of coconut, as much as the Thais do, why not try frying our crispy Prawn Rolls in coconut oil.

coconut oil

Photo courtesy of Phu Thinh Co used under the Creative Commons Licence

Palm Oil


Image Courtesy: Lou Gold used under the Creative Commons Licence

Palm oil is extracted from the palm fruit and is both physically and chemically different from coconut oil and contains less saturated fatty acids. Research indicates that it does not contain any trans-fats which not only produces LDL (bad) cholesterol, but also reduce the HDL (good) cholesterol. Red palm oil, used for cooking in many parts of the world, contains anti-oxidants which prevent ageing and wrinkles. In Thai cuisine, palm oil is used for frying and to add flavour to soups. However it can be easily replaced with other oils that have high smoking points such as peanut oil or canola oil.


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