The young shoots of the bamboo plant. They are pale yellow in colour and usually crispy and crunchy to the taste with a mild flavour. They are used for colour, texture, and flavour in many Thai dishes.
Basil (Hor Ra Pa)
Three different varieties are used. The most common is Bai Horapha, which has a slight aniseed flavour and a reddish purple colour. Others are Bai Kaphrao, which has hotter flavour, and Bai Maenglnk, a milder form often sprinkled over soups and salads. When these are not available western sweet basil may be used, though the taste will be somewhat different.
Bean Sprouts (Thau Ngauk)
These are the crunchy fresh sprouts of mung beans/green beans. They come with crisp texture when eaten fresh and are popular with Pad Thai and other noodle dishes. Bean sprouts are low in calories, high in minerals and Vitamin B.
As a general rule, the smaller the chili, the hotter it is. There are many types of chillies grown in Thailand such as Prick Khee Noo (which is the tiniest and hottest one), followed by the slightly larger Phrik Chi Fa. Dried chillies or Chili flakes and ground chili powder are also used. Chili is a wonderful herb that creates appetite, relieves gas, and aids digestion. It is also packed with various vitamins and minerals.
Coconut Milk (Ga Ti)
The milk of the coconut made by grating the white flesh, soaking it in boiling water, and then squeezing out the liquid through a fine sieve. The first pressing of the meat is pure coconut milk (hua ga-ti or nam katee “head of the coconut milk”) and may be used in recipes calling for either coconut milk or coconut cream. The second pressing of the meat produces a lighter coconut milk (hahng ga-ti “tail of the coconut milk”). Coconut milk is used in many soups and curries.
Dried Chilli (Prik Haeng)
Available as small or large, the size indicates the intensity of the heat. The larger dried whole chillies are used to make curry paste. Without the seeds, the chillies are pounded along with other spices to give a wonderful flavour and colour. The smaller ones are individually eaten or decorate the food more than incorporated into a mixture.
(Thai) Eggplant (Ma Khuea)
Thai eggplants are essential ingredients in curry dishes. In green curry, Thai eggplants are quartered and cooked in the curry sauce where they become softer and absorb the flavour of the sauce.
Pea Eggplant (Ma Kheua Phuang)
Pea Eggplant has crispy fresh flavour, not bitter. Used in curries for flavouring and colour. Helps digestion; high in iron and calcium.
Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)/Nuoc Mam
This salty, pale brown liquid is made from fermented small fish or shrimp. It is widely used in cooking to provide a salty flavour in Thai cooking much as soy sauce would be used and is also used as a dipping condiment for fish, shrimp, pork, and chicken. Fish sauces may be flavoured variously-such as with chiles or sugar- depending on the use.
Galangal has a soapy, earthy aroma and a pine-like flavour with a faint hint of citrus. Its refreshing fragrance is often used in many Thai dishes to balance the taste. The roots have many medicinal uses to improve digestion, relieve heartburn, improve blood circulation, and improve skin complexion. Young galangal is less spicy than older roots. The herb in powder form is also available in oriental grocery stores.
Garlic (Kra Tiem)
Garlic is good in relieving gas and aids digestion. Also reduces blood sugar and cholesterol; and is packed with vitamins and minerals.
A mildly spiced root, which yields a spicy, aromatic taste, ginger is used in Thai cooking. In addition to galanga, there are two varieties of ginger, one Khing and another Krachai which has a milder flavour.
Lime (Ma Now)
Lime is a green, round fruit with sour taste and bitter skin. Lime is used principally as a garnish for fish and as the main sour flavour in spicy salad and curry. It is also freshly squeezed and mixed with water and sugar syrup as a beverage.
Kaffir Lime (Ma Krood)
It has a dark, knobbly green skin with strong flavour. The skin is used in curries and the juice and leaves are used for flavouring. Good for relieving intestinal gas.
Palm Sugar (Nam Tarn Piip)
Known in Thai as Nam Tan Piip, this is derived from the fruit of the Palmyra palm and comes in the form of dry cubes or thick paste.
Pepper (Prik Thai)
The king of spice and an important export since the Ayudhya period. It is widely used in most Thai dishes. It has medical benefits, including relieving gas, helps digestion and stimulates digestive enzymes. Pepper is used in both fresh green (peppercorns), dried black and ground form.
Rice Crackers (Khao Tang)
In the past, it was made from old, bottom pot rice. Today, it is mass produced into flat round or square patties, ready for frying before eating.
Salted / Sweet Turnip (Chai Po)
It is made from salted and pickled (daikon) turnips. It gives authentic Pad Thai noodles its distinct sweet and salty, tangy, savoury apricot-fruit flavour. There are two varieties; one is highly salty, the other less salty and slightly sweetened and commonly used in many Thai dishes. The sweet turnip usually has the words “sweet/sweeten” on the pack.
Shallot (Hom Daeng)
Resembling a small red onion it has a distinct sweet spicy taste more so than regular onions. It is usually added in Thai spicy salad (Yum). Choose large shallots with shiny reddish purple skin. Peel the skin and wash clean before use.
Small delicate brown mushrooms with a sweet and meaty taste, straw mushrooms range in colour from pale tan when young to dark charcoal grey when mature. It is low in calories and fat, no cholesterol, high in minerals. The more readily available in Australia are canned straw mushrooms.
Tamarind (Ma Kham)
The pulp of the pod of the tamarind tree adds a sour taste to numerous Thai dishes. It is commonly used in Thai curries, soups and stews. Tamarind is usually sold in a paste form, as a brick or in jars of concentrated pulp. When a recipe calls for tamarind, it usually refers to tamarind juice.
Thin White Noodles (Kuai Tiaw Sen Lek)
Flour made from rice grain. Thai noodles are known for their glutinous texture. The Sen Jan variety is best for making Pad Thai.
Tofu (Tao hu)
There are many different forms of tofu - puffs, sheets, sticks, and blocks. The most common are the white shaped blocks. Tofu blocks come in many different textures - soft, firm, hard, and spongy. They are rich in protein and a popular ingredient in vegetarian dishes.
Carambola (Ma Fueang)
Carambola is often called star fruit. Carambola has translucent, yellow- orange flesh, refreshing and slightly tart. It is often eaten in pickled form, squeezed for juice, or as a snack with crushed chili and salt.
Custard Apple (Noi Na)
Resembles a small green hand grenade, Custard Apple is filled with white, sweet-scented flesh. It can be eaten ripe, in coconut milk, made into candy or makes delicious ice-cream.
Durian (Thu Rian)
Refer by many as the King of Thai fruits. Durian has creamy yellow flesh encased in a large spiny shell and comes with distinctive smell. There are numerous different varieties of Durian. Those with smaller seeds are generally referred as the best, Golden Pillow (Mon Thong). Though Durian is sweet once it ripens, it can be eaten raw accompanied by sticky rice and coconut milk, or made into preserved chips and candy.
Greenish-yellow fruit with white aromatic flesh, Thai Guava is different from Australian ones. It is less bitter and much sweet when ripe. It is often eaten in its hard unripe form with a special spiced dip of salt and sugar.
Jackfruit (Kha Noon)
Jackfruit is largest of all cultivated fruits, with a spiny shell and yellow or yellow-orange flesh. Jackfruit is eaten raw as a snack, sweet with sticky rice, and cooked as an ingredient in vegetable curries.
It is a small fruit with a tough but thin skin. The flesh is translucent white or pinkish that is sweet and succulent. It has a distinctive musky flavour similar to lychee. It is usually eaten raw with sticky rice and coconut milk or over crushed ice.
Mango (Ma Muang)
Thai Mangos are different from Hawaiian and Tropical Americans`. It is oblong in shape with dark green or golden yellow skin with whitish or yellow flesh. Apart from eating it raw, it can be eaten ripe with sticky rice and coconut milk, pickled, made into preserves or juice. Thai also like slices of raw green sour mango kipped into Nam Pla Wan (sweet fish sauce).
Mangosteen (Mang Khut)
Sometimes refer as the Queen of tropical fruits. It comes with a dark purple skin and white, sweet scented flesh dived into segments. It can be eaten raw, poured into drinks, made into tarts or add to seafood curries.
Malako was founded in Thailand in 2 main varieties, red or yellowish-orange flesh. It is eaten ripe and sprinkled with lime juice, such as in a Som Tam salad, or cooked in a number of dishes.
It is the largest of citrus fruit kind, weighting up to 1 kg, similar to grapefruit but much sweeter. It can be eaten fresh as breakfast or dessert. IT can be used as an ingredient in numerous salads, or squeezed to make refreshing drinks.
Rambutan is covered with a bright red and green hairy skin, and sweet white flesh inside. It is usually eaten in a raw form but can be made into jams, chutneys, ice-cream or add to salads.
Sapodilla (La Mut)
Oval-shaped fruit with brown skin and sweet succulent reddish- brown flesh, it is eaten as a dessert with sprinkling of lime juice or boiled into syrup to make jams and sweetmeats.