Flavor Profile: Thai Cuisine

On the Indochina peninsula of Southeast Asia is Thailand, a country of about 67 million people who all have one thing in common: they all get to eat delicious food every single day of their lives.


We all know the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I. Well, it turns out it’s historically accurate. King Monghut (Yul Brenner’s seminal role), who was the  monarch during the mid-nineteenth century,  chose to invite Westernization in a way that actually prevented colonization. As such, Thai cuisine not only draws from surrounding Asian ingredients and styles, chiles and peanuts came to Thailand from America.

There are four distinct culinary styles in Thai cuisine, northern, Isan (northeastern), central and southern. Over the years, the cuisines have traded with neighboring styles, so there are Burmese, Laotian, Malaysian and other influences that can be found.

As with Japanese cuisine, Thai food relies on visual presentation. Popular belief is that the art of food carving originated in Thailand.

Of all the Asian cuisines, I like Thai cuisine the most. I still have some trouble getting the flavors right, since I don’t really have a frame of reference to work in, nor am I likely to travel there and taste the cuisine in the near ever, but I tell myself I’m getting closer each time I make Thai noodles with Peanut sauce, or stir fry with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Luckily there is a tremendous overlap of Thai ingredients in Israel.

Tan hai arohyn na! (B’Teyavon!)

Herbs and Spices

  • Lemongrass
  • Kaffr Lime Leaves
  • Thai Basil
  • Garlic
  • Galangal
  • Coriander/cilantro
  • Shallots
  • Black Pepper
  • Chiles


  • Duck
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Buffalo


  • Tialpia (Pla Nin)
  • Short Mackerel (Pla Thu)
  • Red Snapper (Pla Krapong Daeng)
  • Sea Bass (Pla Krapong Khaw)
  • Pomfret (Pla Jaramed)


  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Domestic and imported cheeses

Vegetables & Fruits

  • Durian fruit
  • Guava
  • Dragonfruit
  • Jackfruit
  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Lime
  • Cherimoya
  • Passionfruit
  • Pineapple
  • Pomelo
  • Cabbage
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Asparagus
  • Thai Cucumber
  • Beans, sprouts
  • Soybeans

Other Ingredients

  • Fish sauce (nam pla, nam prik)
  • Thai (Jasmine) Rice
  • Green curry paste
  • Tamarind
  • Peanuts
  • Rice noodles
  • Tofu
  • Egg noodles
  • Glass noodles
  • Coconut Milk
  • Vinegar

Classic Dishes

  • Khao Phat (fried rice)
  • Sate (meat skewers)
  • Tom Yam (Hot and Sour Soup)
  • Kaeng Khiao Wan Kai (Green chicken curry with eggplant)
  • Pad Thai (Noodle Bowl)