Herbs and Spices in Thai Cuisine
More than 10 types of chilies are used in Thai cooking. They vary in size and color, but all are used for spicy flavoring and decoration. It is the main ingredient of chili paste.
Shallot (hom daeng)
Small red onions which are used in nearly every Thai dish. A special flavor, to be sure, and so special that even some Thais prefer to do without these in their food.
Its roots are picked for adding to foods and for making drinks. Young ginger is used as a condiment with fowl and beef dishes and in Tom Yom.
A sweet basil different from horapa in that the aroma and flavor is released only in cooking. Used in hot and spicy fried dishes.
Lemon grass (takrai)
This plant looks like coarse grass. The lower part of the stalk is used for flavoring mainly, but also used as an ingredient in curry paste and certain dishes–the most famous is Tom Yom.
The common lime is native to China and Southeast Asia. The lime juice is used in Thai food, mainly for soup and desserts. The peel is used as a flavoring.
Spring onions (ton hom)
Your standard long-stemmed, small onion, green and white and used in Thai food as a garnish for fried rice, salads and vegetables.
Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
Once again, while not a spice, a bottle of the ubiquitous nam pla is found on every table. Made from fermented fish, nam pla is used instead of salt.
Used in Thai cooking as a vegetable and a flavoring in hot salad and Essan food.
Thailand is literally overflowing with garlic plants. Whole cloves, smashed garlic, chopped garlic, and garlic oil are used in almost every Thai dish and used in making curry paste.
Seeds that look like caraway and fennel, but taste quite different. Only cumin is used in Thai cooking. Also used in making curry paste.
Cloves (kaan phloo)
Dried flowerbuds of an evergreen tree, cloves are common to western dishes, but in Thai cooking are used only for the musaman curry paste. The leaves are also used with betelnut.
Pepper (prick thai)
Black, white and green peppercorn types. Black is milder and more aromatic than white. Green peppercorns have a special taste all their own. Used in flavoring.
Bright orange roots which are used for the coloring in yellow curries. White turmeric is used as a raw vegetable and resembles ginger.
Kaffir lime (makroot)
A knobby dark green fruit the size of a large lime. The juice and peel are used in curry paste and cooking as flavoring. Similar to lemon, lemon peel and lemon verbena.
Siamese ginger (khaa)
These roots are larger than the common ginger, and Siamese ginger is always used to make curry pastes used in Thai food.