Thailand : A culinary tradition celebrated around the world
Thailand is a country with a well-established gastronomic reputation. Often said to have the finest cuisine in Southeast Asia, its subtle flavours and traditional dishes have charmed people from all over the world.
Koh hai cha-roen ar-harn! (Enjoy your meal)
Influenced by nearby Burma, Laos and China, the Land of Smiles has been able to incorporate the culinary traditions of its neighbours – and those from further afield – into its own heritage, including chilli peppers brought from Latin America by Portuguese sailors. This openness, combined with ancestral know-how, has helped the country forge an exceptional culinary tradition.
From street food to royal cuisine, an exceptional palette of flavours.
Thailand is a food paradise, where the focus is always on ultra-fresh produce and exquisite recipes with infinite variations.
Whether in a street stall or a top-end restaurant, aromatic herbs, like lemongrass, basil and coriander, reign supreme alongside spices and coconut milk, used to enhance soups, seafood, vegetable and meat dishes alike.
Thai food is a delight for vegetarians or those on a gluten-free diet: in the land of rice, it is rare to find side dishes containing wheat, and the country’s Buddhist culture means that tofu-based alternatives to meat are very common.
It’s a type of cuisine that should first and foremost be enjoyed street side: pick up some hot donuts and soy milk for breakfast, then for lunch choose some grilled chicken skewers and cold drinks like Nam Gek Huey, made from steeped chrysanthemum flowers and served in a plastic bag with a straw.
So what are some of Thailand’s most iconic dishes?
Tom Yam Kung, considered to be the country’s national dish, is a very spicy prawn-based soup. Invented in the 1950s, Pad Thai, a fried rice noodle dish with shrimp or chicken, vegetables, and peanuts, has become a firm favourite.
And who could forget the essential Thai curries? They come in a rainbow of colours: green, yellow, or red, depending on the blend of spices that are used, and are served with meat, fish or vegetables. Salads are everywhere, and Laab is the perfect choice for those with a more daring palate. This very spicy dish is made of minced meat, and is the polar opposite of the papaya salad.
To finish, those with a sweet tooth will love Khanom Tuay, a type of coconut milk pudding or Khao Niao Mamuang, a combination of rice, coconut milk and fresh mango.
Royal Thai Cuisine, or A-harn Chao Wang, is a step above the rest. These sought-after recipes are passed down from generation to generation, but despite their top-secret status, some fine dining restaurants give guests a chance to experience the royal treatment.