Origins of Thai Cuisine
The art of Thai cooking evolved according to the cultural influences from other countries, mainly China and Western Europe. Thai people much welcome a Chinese quick-frying method as the Thais have created a large choice of stir-frying entries in their menu. Another influence from the mainland reflects in an extensive use of noodles in Thai recipes. While the Chinese deep-fry noodle and create savory sauces to mix, Thais apply it in many characteristically Thai styles.
When Chinese people, mainly the Fukianese, migrated to Thailand, they brought with them their eating culture and through generations develop their owner food which later became a part of Thai cuisine.
Western cuisine had the greatest influence on Thai cuisine from the reigns of King Rama V onwards. Thailand’s monarchs were educated in Europe and brought back with them western culture and western taste in food. From time to time we see this influence on the menu of some old style restaurants that serve Thai food but there are also stews available on their menu. Thais especially love beef tongue stew and this is definitely a left over influence from the western cuisine in the last 100 years.
Characteristics of Thai Food Based on Region
In the central region of Thailand food is hot, salty, sweet and sour. Rice is served with different types of nam phrik and soups e.g. tom yam kung (prawn soup with lemon grass). Dishes usually contain a lot of condiments and spices.
In the North, food is mild or hot, salty and sour, but never sweet. Sticky rice is served with boiled vegetables, nam phrik oong and soups or curries. The North is also well-known for its sausage called “naem” which consists of fermented minced pork. It has a sour flavour and is sold wrapped in cellophane and banana leaf.
Food in the Northeast is hot, salty and sour. Their favorite foods include papaya salad (som tam), sour chopped meat salad “koi” , sour minced meat salad (larp). People use a lot of condiments but no many spices. Their meals generally consist of sticky rice and nam phrik pla raa accompanied by a lot of vegetables including those found growing wild.
On the other hand, food in the South is renowned for being very hot, salty, and sour tasting. Curries are popular and made with a lot of spices and condiments. Khao yam (a mixture of rice) raw vegetables and fermented fish sauce or boo doo is also a common dish. Generally southern people eat little meat and other varieties of nam phrik are not so popular, the most common one is nam phrik kapi.
Though the major portion of Thai food is described as being spiced and chili hot, it currently enjoys worldwide popularity especially the exotic Tom Yam Kung, a uniquely piquant prawn soup that is renowned for its simplicity, creativity, artistic flair, and delicious taste. Above all, the tastes of Thai cuisines can be amended to suit individual desire, for example, by reducing the amounts of lime juice to increase sourness. Visitors who have tried the exotic Thai food will never forget to order them again whenever their favorite dishes are available.