When visiting Thailand you might find yourself in one of the biggest open-air kitchen in the world. Everywhere you look people prepare food and create delicious meals with fresh vegetables, exotic fruits and tasty spices.

The Thai cuisine is a mixture of the Chinese, Indian and Malaysian cuisine. Since Thais are very flexible they have adopted various dishes of these cuisines and added some new ingredients to create a typical Thai cuisine.

For a Thai menu put everything on the table at once and get everyone to help themselves. The dishes should be balanced between spicy, sweet, sour and salty. The most important dish is the rice which is placed in the middle of the table. The dishes are not mixed at the plates, you take one or two dishes at a time. Eat with fork and spoon. Take the spoon in the right hand and push food onto the spoon with the fork in the left hand.

Bamboo shoots
Bamboo shoots are available in cans.
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Beancurd is made out of soy bean sprouts. Do not use a very soft beancurd for stir-fried dishes.

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Chillis are available in various sizes and colors. The smaller they are, the hotter they taste. If you like to lessen the hotness you can remove the seeds. Be careful when preparing chillis. Do not touch your face and eyes and wash your hands and nails after handling them.
Chilli paste This paste is sold in jars and made out of chillis, salt, sugar and vinegar.
Coconut milk
Coconut milk is one of the most important ingredients for the Thai cuisine. It is used for curries, soups, desserts and many other dishes. Coconut milk is available in cans.
(Pak Chii)

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Fresh coriander looks like parsley and is therefore sometimes called Chinese parsley. Coriander is an important ingredient in Thai cuisine. You can use the roots, the stem and the leaves. Coriander with roots can be frozen. Just wrap the stems in plastic and freeze.
Curry paste
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Curry pastes are available at Asian grocers. These pastes make the preparation of curry dishes easier.

Here are some different types of curry pastes:

  •  Red curry paste (Gang Ped Bang)
  •  Green curry paste (Gang Kiau Wan)
  •  Panang curry paste (Gang Panang)
  •  Massaman curry paste (Gang Massaman)
  •  Roasted curry paste (Noam Prik Pao)
Egg noodles
Egg and wheat flour noodles come from China. They are often used for stir-fried dishes and soups.
Eggplants They are many sizes and varieties of eggplant available in Thailand. They are purple, white and green eggplants as well as eggplants that look like peas.
Fish sauce
(Naam Plaah)
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Fish sauce is one of the most important ingredients in the Thai cuisine. Fish sauce is used instead of salt. It is made out of fermented fish.  
Galangal (Khaa) Galangal look similar to ginger but tastes completly different. It is sold fresh or dried. You can freeze galangal in a plastic bag.
Glass noodles
Made from mung bean flour, also called cellophane noodles. Soak in warm water for 10-15 minutes before using.
Ginger (Khing)
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Ginger has to be peeled and sliced before using. Ginger is sold fresh or dried.
Kaffir lime leaves
(Bei Magrud)
The leaves can be stored in a freezer for a long time. As a substitue you can use strips of lemon peel.
Lemon grass
(Ta Krai)
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Lemon grass looks like a stick. It is only used for seasoning food. It is taken out of the food before serving, since you cannot eat it. Lemon grass tastes similar to lemon. Fresh lemon grass can be stored in the refrigerator. As a substitute you can use strips of lemon peel.
Oyster sauce
(Naam Manhoy)
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Oyster sauce is a thick, brown sauce and made out of oysters.
Palm sugar This sugar is brown and sticky. As a substitute you can use brown sugar.
Rice vinegar As a substitute you can use mild white vinegar.
Rice noodles
(Guai Thiau)
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Rice noodles are made out of rice flour. To prepare rice noodles they have to be cooked for 10 minutes, drained and washed with cold water. After cooking they can be cut with a pair of scissors into smaller pieces.

Shrimp paste
Shrimp paste is used for seasoning. It is made from dried prawns and salt.
Soy bean sprouts
(Too Gnooh)
They are available at Asian grocers. They are sold fresh or canned though fresh soy bean sprouts taste better.

Soy Sauce
(Naam Sii Luh)
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There are light and dark soy sauce available. Dark soy sauce tastes stronger.
Light: Naam Sii Luh Khao
Dark: Naam Sii Luh Damm

Sweet soy sauce Sweet soy sauce tastes sweeter than regular soy sauce.  
Tamarind is made out of tamarind fruits. You can buy tamarind pulp at Asian grocers. The pulp needs to be soaked in warm water and strained to get tamarind juice. You can use lemon or lime as a subsitute.

Thai basil
(Bai Horapah, Bai Graprau, Bai Mangluk)

There are three types of Thai basil:
"Bai Horapah"
"Bai Mangluk"
"Bai Graprau" .
As a subsitute you can use European basil.