What to CookThai

Let Thai Inspired Meals Carry You Through the Week

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Eating Thai food excited my palate in a way few other cuisines can. Something about that contradictory, yet harmonious, blend of disparate flavors makes my my mouth alight. Thai cuisine, in general, orbits around a cast of ingredients: garlic, galangal, cilantro, and lemon grass provide depth and brightness; chilies sharpen; palm sugar sweetens while lime sours; and fish sauce adds an unexpected but oh so welcome umami.

The Thai pantry may have the potential for limitlessness— read Leela Punyaratabandhu’s parodic anecdote about a never ending list of condiments:

“Take the late M.R. Kukrit Pramoj’s in One Thousand and One Nights. In this version, our Scheherazade was a young consort of an imaginary Thai king who lived in ancient times. Just as Scheherazade in the original story intentionally delayed her demise by telling one story to the king each night, the Thai Scheherazade also did the same—except instead of telling stories, she shared Thai recipes. The smart girl began with the condiment and relish category. I guess you can see now how the story ends: After years of sharing one relish recipe with the king nightly, the consort had now become a very old woman. And when she finally died of old age, wrote Pramoj, she hadn’t even gotten to the coconut-based relishes yet.”

But don't let this tall tale discourage. Our site is chock full of recipes to get you started and tips to ease you along. Leela Punyaratabandhu, the author of Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen, knows her way around the Thai kitchen and she's shared her expertise on our site. Consult her primer on prepping Thai-style sticky rice. Learn what to buy, how to make it (no fancy basket required!), and the best ways to eat it. Then, peek through what Leela says are the essential Thai cooking tools and what alternatives you can use in their place.

The Best Way to Make Thai Sticky Rice (No Fancy Basket Required)

The Best Way to Make Thai Sticky Rice (No Fancy Basket Re... by Leela Punyaratabandhu

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8 Tools Essential to Thai Cooking

8 Tools Essential to Thai Cooking by Leela Punyaratabandhu

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With a little knowledge under your belt, try your hand at these Thai-inspired dishes. Some skew more true to form than others. (Take, for example, a recipe for tom kha gai, which community member thaifoodie describes as "distinctly Thai," and compare it to Gena Hamshaw's vegan pad thai, an interpretation on a classic.) Sometimes people cull recipes directly from a country's cuisine, other times they use the flavors and ingredients to inform something novel. This list includes a little bit of both—each as tasty as the next and worthy of a shot. Why not give some a whirl?


Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)
Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)
Spicy Thai Basil Noodle Cake

Spicy Thai Basil Noodle Cake by Sippity Sup (Greg Henry)

Vegan Pad Thai

Vegan Pad Thai by Gena Hamshaw

Spicy Thai Steak Salad
Spicy Thai Steak Salad
Salmon with a Thai Curry Sauce
Salmon with a Thai Curry Sauce
Spicy Thai PB&J

Spicy Thai PB&J by Natalie

Thai Curry Noodles with Shrimp

Thai Curry Noodles with Shrimp by thirschfeld

Plaa Phao Kleua (Grilled Salt-Crusted Fish with Chile Dipping Sauce)

Plaa Phao Kleua (Grilled Salt-Crusted Fish with Chile Dip... by JJ Goode

Khao Niaw Mamuang (Sticky Rice with Mango and Salty-Sweet Coconut Cream)

Khao Niaw Mamuang (Sticky Rice with Mango and Salty-Sweet... by JJ Goode

Larb Gai (Thai Chicken Salad)
Larb Gai (Thai Chicken Salad)

Do you enjoy cooking Thai food? Share your favorite recipes in the comments.

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Weeknight Cooking, Quick and Easy, Dinner, Faster