Thai cuisine has a rich history of flavors, with neighboring cultures and countries in Southeast Asia influencing its culinary traditions over the centuries. There are four distinct types of Thai cooking, mostly due to climate and geographic divide:
- Northeast (Isaan): Known for its sticky rice and spicy flavorings, the cuisine here is more likely to incorporate wildlife compared to the other three.
- North: It has evolved into a culinary melting pot due to influences from its neighbors, including China, Laos, Myanmar and the Muslim culture.
- South: Close to the coast and a large producer of coconuts, here seafood and coconut milk are often incorporated into dishes.
- Central plains: A large Portuguese presence in the past still influences the use of egg yolk 300-400 years later.
Though different flavors and ingredients are used across Thailand, there are similarities in how the food is cooked – with a wok. When Thai food is prepared properly, it’s built from the flavor up, placing emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong, aromatic components and a spicy edge. Balance, detail and variety are significant to Thai chefs.
Americans are becoming more comfortable and open to global flavors and different ethnic cuisines like Thai food, and unlike other ethnic cuisines, there has been minimal “Americanization” of Thai dishes. For example, Pad Thai is a common street food, and drunken noodles are a regional dish found in Central Thailand. As more Americans enjoy and seek Thai food flavors, we expect to see even more of the traditional dishes from the various regions in the coming years.
Thai Flavor Profiles
Below are a few of our favorite flavor profiles that you may see on a Thai menu:
Coconut Curry: This traditional Thai curry seasoning features Asian chili, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, coconut and ginger profiles.
Sweet Thai Chili: Chili peppers, garlic, coriander, citrus, and cumin create a balance of sweet, spicy and savory in true Thai fashion.
Ginger Lime: Lime, ginger, sesame, green onion, and sugar are the major flavor contributors to this spicy seasoning.
Green Curry: This well-balanced sweet, savory and heat seasoning blend has notes of onion, garlic, herbs, lime and traditional Thai spices with a touch of coconut.
Red Rooster Sriracha: The classic Thai hot sauce in a seasoning blend is spicy and tangy with heavy garlic notes.
In addition to its traditional dishes, Thailand has influenced the U.S. with its craving for spice. Learn more about the origins of Sriracha and America’s love story with international hot sauces in Asenzya’s latest Trending Flavors white paper.