Balance, detail and variety are of paramount significance to Thai chefs. Australian chef David Thompson, a prolific chef and expert on Thai food, observed that unlike many other cuisines: "Thai food ain't about simplicity. Some westerners think it's a jumble of flavours, but to a Thai that's important, it's the complexity they delight in". Common flavors in Thai food come from garlic, galangal, coriander/cilantro, lemon grass, shallots, pepper, kaffir lime leaves, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and chilies. They are tom yam goong (4th), pad thai (5th), som tam (6th), massaman curry (10th), green curry (19th), Thai fried rice (24th) and moo nam tok (36th).
Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. Many dishes that are now popular in Thailand were originally Chinese dishes. The most notable influence from the West must be the introduction of the chili pepper from the Americas in the 16th or 17th century. Many dishes that are now popular in Thailand were originally Chinese dishes. It is now one of the most important ingredients in Thai cuisine, together with rice. During the Columbian Exchange, Portuguese and Spanish ships brought new crops from the Americas including tomatoes, corn, papaya, pea eggplants, pineapple, pumpkins, culantro, cashews, and peanuts. In most Thai restaurants, diners will have access to a selection of Thai sauces (nam chim) and condiments, either brought to the table by wait staff or present at the table in small containers.
Some westerners think it's a jumble of flavours, but to a Thai that's important, it's the complexity they delight in". The fork and spoon were introduced by King Chulalongkorn after his return from a tour of Europe in 1897 CE. Traditionally, the majority of ethnic Thai people ate with their hands like the people of India. Sticky rice, not jasmine rice, is the staple food in the local cuisines of Northern Thailand and of Isan (Northeastern Thailand), both regions of Thailand directly adjacent to Laos with which they share many cultural traits. The food is pushed by the fork, held in the left hand, into the spoon held in the right hand, which is then brought to the mouth. A traditional ceramic spoon is sometimes used for soup, and knives are not generally used at the table. It is common practice for the both the Thais and the hill tribe peoples who live in north and northeast Thailand, to use sticky rice as an edible implement by shaping it into small, and sometimes flattened, balls by hand (and only the right hand by custom) which are then dipped into side dishes and eaten. We think of all parts of the meal as a whole - sum rap Thai (the way Thais eat), is the term we use for the unique components that make up a characteristically Thai meal. According to Thai food expert McDang, rice is the first and most important part of any meal, and the words for rice and food are the same: khao.
They were introduced to Thailand by the Hokkien people starting in the 15th century, and by the Teochew people who started settling in larger numbers from the late 18th century CE onward, mainly in the towns and cities, and now form the majority of the Thai Chinese. Such dishes include chok Thai: โจ๊ก (rice porridge), salapao (steamed buns), kuaitiao rat na (fried rice-noodles) and khao kha mu (stewed pork with rice). A Thai family meal would normally consist of rice with several dishes which should form a harmonious contrast of flavors and textures as well as preparation methods. These may include: phrik nam pla/nam pla phrik (fish sauce, lime juice, chopped chilies and garlic), dried chili flakes, sweet chili sauce, sliced chili peppers in rice vinegar, sriracha sauce, and even sugar. A Thai family meal would normally consist of rice with several dishes which should form a harmonious contrast of flavors and textures as well as preparation methods. The dishes are all served at the same time, including the soups, and it is also customary to provide more dishes than there are guests at a table. One type, which is indigenous to Thailand, is the highly prized, sweet-smelling jasmine rice (khao hom mali). They are similar to the Teochew mee pok. An alternative is to have one or smaller helpings of curry, stir-fries and other dishes served together on one plate with a portion of rice.