What is Thai Food? (Thai Food For Beginners)

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What is Thai food? Thai food is the national food of Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia, and is one of the best cuisines in the world, if not the very best. Thai food is full of flavour, featuring aromatics like lemongrass, gingers, lime leaves and hot chillies alongside coconut milk, peanuts and basil. Thai food can be vegetarian or feature meats and seafood, tofu is common as are both rice and noodles. Thai food balances sweet, spicy, salt, and sour to perfection in curries, stir-fries, soups and salads.

Thai food soup
A delicious Thai soup, this is tom yum, tom yum goong, as it contains prawns (shrimp to our US friends), tom yum gai would contain chicken. This soup is “hot” or “spicy” as it contains chillies, but not all Thai food is hot. Learn more!

Most of us know what Thai food is these days. Many of us have eaten Thai cuisine in a restaurant at least once, so maybe a guide to Thai food for beginners is a little redundant.

Thai street food sauces
A Thai street food stall in Bangkok serving pad Thai (noodles) to hungry tourists. The pad Thai itself isn’t hot usually, diners can add flavour and heat with multiple condiments. In the photo, you can see additions such as peanuts, fried shallots, sugar, dried chillies and fish sauce and vinegar containing fresh chillies. You can make your food taste the way you want it to taste, usually. If a Thai restaurant doesn’t have these condiments and sauces, I don’t think I’d eat there!

All the same, Chef and I thought we’d put together a beginner’s guide to Thai food to help you if you are new to Travel in Thailand.

A simple Thai meal
A very simple Thai meal, omelette rice. You’ll notice the sauce or condiment using fresh birds’ eye chillies and fish sauce, this makes it delicious!

Maybe you’re taking kids to Thailand (great plan!) and wondering what they can eat, or maybe you want to try cooking Thai food at home and aren’t sure where to start.

Thai food sausage grill
Thai food is full of surprises! Yes, they do eat sausages in Thailand. These Thai sausages are regional speciality food inthe North of Thailand.

Maybe you’re just visiting a Thai restaurant for the first time and need to know what and how to order.

This guide to Thai food, dishes, flavours, and ingredients is for you.

Thai food frog
Yes, this is frog, at a market in the south of Thailand. Frog does appear in some Thai dishes but it’s not common. Much more common, are the Thai vegetables on the right of the photo, particularly Thai aubergines or eggplants.

There is a lot of bad Thai food around the world and some of the food served in Thailand is bad too if it’s churned out for tourists with no pride in the end product.

Thai food typical spices
Typical ingredients in Thai food, are lemongrass, lime leaf, ginger (or galangal, another member of the ginger family), garlic and chillies, but Thai food is often light and fresh tasting with a tang of lime and the saltiness of fish sauce, not heavy with spices as Indian food is.

But done right, Thai food is incredible, many people consider it the most delicious food in the world. It’s light, healthy, delicately fragrant and full of vegetables. It’s not necessarily fiery hot. What people (wrongly) call “spicy.”

Thai dish mango sticky rice
Mango sticky rice, is a Thai favourite desert. The rice is “sticky” because it’s a different type of rice grain, its glutinous rice. It can also be served with curries and it’s really delicious. The fresh mango here goes with a coconut sauce. I have to admit – I don’t like this Thai dish.

Chef and I want to give you Thai food for beginners,  for any Thai food novices out there stressing over what to eat in Thailand, Southeast Asia or in a Thai restaurant near you.

Thai Food a beginner's guide Cooking
What is Thai food? We explain Thai foods, dishes, ingredients and flavours in this post.

What is Thai Food?

Thai food ingredients
The ingredients in Thai food. Fresh vegetables, chillies and garlic at a market in Thailand. The freshness of the flavours in Thai food make it stand out as well as the unique balance of salt, sweet and sour.

We’ve slaved long and hard over this post, we ate at many restaurants in Thailand and tried everything on the menu.

We also took many Thai cooking classes and we cook Thai food at home often, it’s easy if you can buy or grow Thai ingredients, which in cold climates can be hard.

What is Thai Food Sausage
Do they eat sausages in Thailand? Yes, but Thai sausages aren’t the same as the sausages in the west. This is a fermented Isan sausage for sale on a BBQ street food stall in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

We’ll start with the basic Thai dishes. There is huge variation in how cooks prepare dishes, no two ever make an identical meal. Eat around, find the restaurant you like and watch out for MSG, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s nasty.

You will find the basic dishes below all over Thailand but there are also regional specialities to look out for.

In Thailand food does vary from north to south for instance Khao Soi, synonymous with Chiang Mai and the north.

The northeast of Thailand, on the Laos border, is Isan, Thailand’s largest region, and you’ll often see Isan food in Thailand.

Thai floating market food
Authentic Thai food at a floating market, aimed at locals, not tourists. You’ll find some of the best Thai food at street food stalls, in night markets and floating markets. There is even a Michelin-star street food stall in Bangkok along with several at good Thai restaurants.

The Thai people eat many tropical fruits and vegetables, usually finely chopped or shredded.

Common proteins consumed in Thailand include peanuts, tofu, chicken, fish, seafood, and pork.

You will, occasionally, see more exotic animals on menus, including frog, insects, bugs and spiders. You can buy packets of salted crispy crickets in supermarkets and street food stalls.

The “scorpion-on-a-stick” is there for the tourists and the vendors make a lot of money out of 10 Baht for a photo.

The main carbohydrate eaten in Thailand is rice, particularly Thai jasmine rice, but sticky rice is fairly common too on Thai menus.

Thai food has a special balance of acid, salt, and sweet. Key flavours include coconut, palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime. Heat comes from hot peppers, in the dish, or added as a condiment. It’s common to add sugar to savoury food as a condiment too.

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Thai Food (Video)

We made this video for you to start to explain. Food in Thailand is cheap, delicious, and available just about everywhere you can imagine. Much of the footage we filmed in markets and floating markets, along with cookery courses we’ve attended over the years.

You’ll see the bugs and scorpions, along with what Thai people really eat. Our website is special, we research, film, and photograph in person.

Many people writing guides to Thai food have never set foot in Thailand and that makes me incredibly sad. Such is blogging these days.

Thai Food: Is Thai Food “Hot” or “Spicy”?

Some Thai food is very hot or “spicy” but other dishes are nor. Soups can be creamy and fresh, some stir fries are not spicy at all, and often you can order Thai food spicy or mild.

Don’t fear the chillies! You do find chillies in a lot of Thai cuisine but they’re not always very hot. The bigger ones are just another vegetable, so mild my children will eat them without complaint. They’re full of vitamin C so eat up. It’s the little chillies that you’ve got to watch.

Often you add your own chilli to taste. The best places to eat have plenty of condiments to adapt your dish whichever way you like. You’ll see small devilish chillies in fish sauce (Prik Nam Pla) or vinegar and ground dried chillies, and pastes. You can easily make your own Thai condiments at home, they’re easy to mix.

condiments for Thai food

Thai Food – How and What to Order?

Restaurants that serve tourists quite often assume the farangs or foreigners aren’t up to the heat, you have to ask for your food spicy or with chilli (prik in Thai). If you don’t ask, they will assume you can’t cope and will serve you “Thai food for beginners.” This is why we originally names this post that way. Other have copied us since.

In very touristy restaurants the waiter may ask if you want your food served mild, medium, or spicy. If in doubt, start with mild. But tourist mild often means no chillies at all. A heavy Thai meal might consist of the four elements below:

  • Wet – curries and soups
  • Dry-fried dishes without a thick soup or sauce.
  • Spicy – could be a soup or dish with plenty of heat.
  • Yum – light and fresh, like a salad. Balancing lime, sugar, and salt while cleansing your palette.

If you order like this for one person it will be way too much food unless you have a gargantuan appetite.

One Thai curry, soup, stir-fry or salad is usually plenty in a restaurant. You can order rice with soups and curries or sometimes they will be “over rice” or stir-fried with rice, mixed with rice already.

Sticky rice is unusual, but it is a special treat, more common in Laos. You’ll also see sticky rice in desserts such as mango and sticky rice. Sticky rice is a different species of rice, the glutinous texture is not just down to cooking.

Thai Fish Sauce, Shrimp Paste, Dried Fish and Squid

Thai food fish cakes
Fish and fishy flavours are popular in Thailand. These are Thai fish cakes, a popular treat, here bought as street food at a floating market. They were delicious! The Thais eat salt-water and fresh-water fish and seafood creatures.

All of the above fish ingredients can be tricky for the Thai food beginner. I love fish sauce just as much as soy sauce, it’s basically salt, but made from fermented fish.

Thai food with fish sauce is an acquired taste. The other fishy ingredients can sometimes taste of death and decomposition, but they’re not heavily used in most Thai dishes. I’ve rarely found dried shrimp an issue for me in pad Thai and papaya salads.

Pad Thai for tourists generally doesn’t contain these. If you go to a market you’ll see just how many different types of fish pastes exist in Thailand, and smell them!

Eating Thai Food

I was told many years ago while trekking through the villages of northern Thailand, that Thai people didn’t put forks or knives in their mouths because it was dangerous.

In Thai food every item comes pre-cut, making it easy to eat with an Asian-style soup spoon or chopsticks. Chopsticks are usually presented wrapped in paper, quite clean, unlike in Vietnam, where you need to wipe your chopsticks with the paper provided.

In some Thai food outlets, particularly shopping malls, you’ll find that you can sterilise your eating utensils in vats of boiling water. Of course, if you can’t use chopsticks, somebody will usually be able to find you a western spoon or fork. Items like spoons and chopstick sets are popular souvenirs to take home after your culinary tour of Thailand.

Thai Soups

Thai soup is part of the main meal, not normally a starter. They’re filling enough in themselves, but sometimes people order rice on the side. With rice or without, either is OK, nobody will think you’re weird.

Your soup will contain sticks and leaves and you’re generally not supposed to eat them, although very young kaffir lime leaves are edible. Just take out the pieces of lemongrass, galangal (galangal is far more woody than ginger), lime leaves, tamarind pods etc. Or you can just leave them in the bowl.

The two main Thai soups you’ll find are Tom Ka (or Tom Kha) and Tom Yam (or Tom Yum). I can’t recall ever eating clear noodle soups in Thailand, unlike in neighbouring Vietnam or Laos where they have been common.

Khao Soi is another Thai noodle soup, but the broth is rich, thick creamy coconut curry, not a clear noodle soup at all. This is a regional dish, found in the north, but sometimes you can find it elsewhere.

Thai Tom Yum Soup

Thai food best soup
This Thai dish maybe wasn’t for beginners, fiery hot tom yum goong, but delicious!

This bowl on Tom Yum Goong (prawn) is the best I’ve ever eaten. Bought from a tiny backstreet restaurant in Hua Hin, I have never had another Tom Yum that could measure up. I dream of this soup!

Tom yum is hot with chillies and sour with lime. It doesn’t normally contain coconut, the stock is almost clear sometimes.

Tom Ka or Kha

Thai food soup, not spicy
My son eating delicious tom ka gai. Coconut chicken soup. You can use an Asian soup spoon as well as your chopsticks to pull out the pieces of chicken and straw mushroom.

Tom Ka is a highly fragrant thin coconut soup. It can be totally spice and chili free, my children love it that way. Sometimes it has chillies. The key ingredients are the galangal and lemongrass. Kaffir lime leaves and fresh Thai basil add more fragrance. Tom Ka often features delicious Asian mushrooms. Our current favourite restaurant uses celery leaf, they’re a great addition. Tom kha gai or khai is chicken tom ka, but you also should be able to find tofu, vegetable or prawn versions.

Fried Noodles and Thai Noodle Dishes

There are many different types of noodles in Thailand, from fine rice vermicelli to fat wide noodles in pad siew. You’ll also see sheets and clumps of noodle material if you find very authentic floating markets like Tha Kha floating market. Every noodle has its own ideal dish or use.

Pad Siew (or Pad See Ew)

Thai food noodles
Chef’s favourite, pad siew, fried fat noodles with soy sauce

I must have seen this Thai dish spelled a dozen different ways. Spelling for everything varies immensely in Thailand.

Pad Siew is one is Chef’s favourites. Fat, slippery rice noodles fried with soy sauce (the siew) and vegetables, with or without meat.

Good pad siew contains greens, kale, Chinese broccoli, or similar. This is my husband’s absolute favourite Thai dish in Thailand. If it’s done well. The trick is a blisteringly hot pan.

Pad Thai

what is pad thai- thai food noodles
Pad Thai should come with a squeeze of lemon or lime, ground peanuts and prik nam pla. The more traditional condiments the better. This is a tofu pad thai at a street restaurant in Bangkok.

Probably the Thai food most often consumed by tourists in Thailand and certainly a Thai food for beginners. Pad Thai can be delicious or dodgy.

The Pad Thai above, bought at a street-side restaurant in Bangkok was incredibly good. I’ve also had some that I just couldn’t eat, greasy with pig fat and some sort of toxic orange sauce.

A real Pad Thai has thin rice noodles stir-fried with eggs and small pieces of firm tofu.  Its flavour comes from tamarind, fish sauce, tiny dried shrimps, garlic or shallots, chillies, and sugar. It should be served with lime and peanuts.

Sometimes there are vegetables in Pad Thai. I think the best Pad Thai has plenty of bean sprouts. You can usually order it with meat, tofu or prawns. Done right, pad thai is a noodle dish you’ll want to eat every day.

Know Your Thai Curries.

What are Thai curries? Thai curries are usually coconut milk-based and don’t contain an abundance of spices in the same way that Indian curries do.

Coconut milk isn’t the clear liquid inside a drinking coconut, that’s coconut water. Coconut milk is made from the flesh of the coconut and can be thick or thin.

The eponymous colours of the Thai curry come from the curry paste, all contain chillies and aromatics. The curries all come with a choice of protein, which can be tofu, or straight vegetable. The main curries you will find are:

Thai Green Curry

Bowl of Thai Green Curry Thai Food
A bowl of Thai green curry tofu in Krabi. This wasn’t a particularly good one. This was a tourist restaurant and quality suffers. Green curry can be served like this, almost like a soup ( my favourite) or at street food kitchens you may find it served over rice, with rice or fried with rice.

Thai green curry paste is green because of the green chilli content. Green curry is normally sweeter than red curry, but I’ve not noticed much difference in practice.

Fresh coriander, basil and kaffir lime leaf can enhance the paste’s greenness. Thai green curry almost always features various mini green aubergines (eggplant), sometimes quartered, sometimes whole. I love them!

Red Curry

Thai red curry paste is made from fresh and dried red chillies.

Yellow Curry

Yellow curry is richer and creamier than red or green curries because of the coconut cream content. The yellow comes from fresh turmeric in the paste, making it slightly Indian-like.

Massaman Curry

Massaman refers to Muslims. This curry is filling with potatoes, lots of sugar and peanuts and is about the heaviest dish you’ll find, I think. Chef loves this one.

Panang or Penang Curry.

Penang curry is a Thai food similar to red curry but sweeter. Coconut cream makes it heavier and richer.

Various Thai Fried Dishes.

These usually come in chicken, vegetable, prawn or tofu varieties. They’re all good and this is the stuff that my children love to eat. The sauces contain a little garlic, soy, and sugar. Sometimes we order them with rice if we’re really hungry. They’re not greasy, or shouldn’t be.

Chicken with basil and chilli.

Don’t ask for this without heat, the chilli makes the dish. Delicious and a Thai classic. Thai basil is similar to European but the leaf is smaller and has a slight aniseed flavour.

Ground beef or pork can be served the same way with Thai basil and chilli. Order this with rice, it’s too hot to eat alone. Sometimes people order a fried egg served on the top of these dishes.

Chicken (or other) with cashew nuts.

I love vegetables with cashews, or tofu with cashews, I’m not much of a meat eater and non animal protein is hard to find sometimes. Pork with cashew is also quite common.

Chicken with vegetables.

It’s good, vegetables vary and are seasonal. They’re very fond of baby corn and cooked cucumber in Thailand.

Chicken with ginger

This is a family favourite with us and contains loads of shredded fresh ginger, as a vegetable, not a flavouring. You’ll also have a lot of onion and sometimes other vegetables

Other Thai Dishes.

Thai Omelette Rice

Thai food rice omelette
Thai style omelette rice.

Thai style omelettes are one of my favourite Thai foods! Omelettes stuffed with ground meat, veg or tofu are delicious but the basic version above is cheap and tasty.

Omelette rice is the budget traveller’s friend. It’s often the cheapest thing on the menu. It may not sound very exciting but it’s good when you hit it with the condiments (Prik Nam Pla especially)

Thai filled omelettes, stuffed with pork, sometimes oysters, and herbs are amazing!

Spring Rolls

spring rolls food thailand
Thai spring rolls at a beach restaurant on Ko Phangan Thailand. We order these as a starter to share between the four of us if we’re extra hungry. They can also be a meal for one.

Thai spring rolls generally contain fine clear noodles. These are glass noodles or cellophane noodles. The fried roll will also contain finely shredded vegetables such as carrot, bean sprouts and cabbage. Vegetable spring rolls are common but shrimp, chicken, pork or tofu versions exist. They taste best with prik nam pla but sometimes come with syrupy commercial sweet chilli sauce.

Fried Rice

A budget fall-back and an easy dish for kids, Thai fried rice is easy to find. Vegetable fried rice is common but meat or seafood versions exist. Sometimes fried rice contains egg, sometimes not.

Thai fried rice is just a mix-up of cooked white rice, veg, and proteins. I would never order this if there was something better available. We quite often order fried rice for breakfast for the kids.

Morning Glory

Morning glory is a favourite vegetable in Thailand. It is very good stir-fried with garlic. Morning glory is a climbing plant from the sweet potato family and the leaves are delicious and nutritious.

You’ll often see morning glory with garlic on a menu, in which case we would order it to share or be eaten alongside a soup or curry. I really love this dish and we ate it often in the hill tribe villages north of Chiang Mai, the leaves picked fresh from the jungle.

Larp or Larb

Thai food larp

Larb is a Thai meat salad. Finely chopped meat (or tofu or mushrooms for a vegetarian version), usually cooked, mixed with herbs. This dish sometimes contains raw meat. I had raw minced pork this way years ago, which wasn’t clever.

Larb is really zingy with mint, lime juice, and fish sauce. If your larp is crunchy or grainy, it contains chopped toasted rice.  You normally have sticky rice and raw vegetables and chilies served on the side. They do great laarp in Laos if you can find a good restaurant.

Thai Salads

Thai Food Papaya Salad
Thai food can be incredibly bright and fresh. Thai green papaya salad is probably as fresh and flavourful as food in Thailand gets.

Thai salads are delicious and unusual, with flavours not normally found in a salad. I haven’t had one in years because I love the Thai soups and curries so much! We made a few on our cookery course and they were an absolute revelation.

Shredded green papaya is a major ingredient in a Thai salad, along with fish sauce, lime, and sometimes fearsome little dried shrimps. People will often call these dishes green papaya salads. Look for som tam on menus.

Thai Food for Vegans and Vegetarians

On the face of it, it may seem that Thailand is a paradise for vegans and vegetarians with every meat dish having a tofu-based alternative, but think again.

Thai food, although often tofu-based, wasn’t created with vegans in mind and dried shrimp, fish sauce and oyster sauce are fairly ubiquitous. You will need to ask specifically for your dish to not contain these animal products.

There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian cafés and restaurants in Thailand now. However, they tend to be for tourists so prices are higher. There are exceptions, of course, there are some vegan and vegetarian food outlets aimed at local Thai people. More and more are opening as locals embrace veganism.

There are a few near the Hindu temple in Silom Bangkok, and one near the north wall in Chiang Mai that we know well, but you’ll need to hunt for them. Look out for yellow signs for vegetarian food restaurants. The Thai expressions for “no fish sauce please” and more, can be found here.

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Thai Food Beginners Guide

What Country is Thai Food From?

Thai food is from the country of Thailand, which is situated in Southeast Asia. Thai food is famous for its fantastic flavours utilising lemongrass, lime leaf, Asian herbs and vegetables, coconut milk, sugar, and fish sauce. Thai food can be vegetarian or contain meat, poultry, or fish and seafood.

Is Thai Food Healthy?

It’s impossible to say if Thai food is healthy or not because this depends on which Thai food you eat, how often, and what your definition of healthy is. Thai food does tend to contain a lot of vegetables, seafood, and moderate amounts of meat. However, Thai food also contains sugar, not many people would consider sugar healthy. If you order deep-fried spring rolls, fried rice, and desserts, then no, Thai food would not be healthy. However, stick to the curries and stir-fried dishes, go easy on the plain steamed rice and noodles, and yes, it can be very healthy. You really can’t generalise.

Personally, I lose weight in Thailand every time, which in my case is probably healthy, I do slip into the overweight category from time to time and a few weeks in Thailand puts me back into “normal” weight, which pleases my doctor. As in any country, you have to watch what you eat.


Back in 1999, when I went to Thailand for the first time, I had never tried Thai cuisine other than dishes I had cooked myself. I’d religiously watched Keith Floyd and his Far Flung Floyd TV series bought his book and tried a few recipes. I thought I was doing something wrong. I knew my Indian curries so the thin, soupy Thai curries just didn’t seem right to me. They were delicious, but maybe they needed thickening?

I got used to them on that trip to Thailand and I tried just about every new dish I found. A couple of years later Chef (my husband) and I took a 3 day Thai cookery course in Chiang Mai. I’ve got a certificate to prove I can smash my own curry pastes, not that I ever do.

We’d never eaten so well as on that course, if you get the chance, take one. You’ll find cookery courses all over Thailand, starting at just half a day. We’ve since taken several more cookery classes, along with our kids.

You can find whatever food you like in Thailand, pizzas, fries, sandwiches it’s all here. If you’re coming to Thailand and don’t fancy Thai food, you’re not going to starve. But do yourself a favour, and give it a go. Thai food is heaven. What is Thai food? Delicious! Head back to our main Thailand Travel page of the blog.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

24 thoughts on “What is Thai Food? (Thai Food For Beginners)”

  1. Love your post! who don’t love food? it is actually a question but every picture in this post making me more hungry. Because its looks so delicious. Now definitely gonna order something in Thai.

  2. Thank you for sharing this!! I recently moved to a city that has a very large Thai population and Thai restaurants are everywhere, but I’ve been too scare to know what to order other than Pad Thai! This helps me a lot. Thank you thank you! =)

  3. I have learned the hard way that not all chilies are the same. I had one that was mild, later I had one that looked similar, so I thought I could stomach it. Nope, I was wrong. It was pretty intense. I’ve never actually had Thai food before, but it looks really good!

  4. Where in Hua Hin? It’s my favorite place in Thailand and we have been a few times. Cant’ wait to go back. There’s a little place called U-Saw-Mas near Monkey Mountain in Khao Takiab (outskirts of HH). The old lady who owns it used to cook for the King and has traveled a lot. Her food is the BEST and she has wonderful stories too. Love it.

  5. Great post!! My favorites were the Penang curries and Tom Kha. We took a cooking class too (just a day), and it was great to learn what goes into a lot of the dishes – particularly the curries.

  6. Mmm, these dishes look good. But like you said you can get some dodgy meals and you don’t know what it may be like until it’s sat in front of you. I’ve had some really good Pad Thai and some really bad ones, so when we find a good restaurant I’ll go back again. The night markets are great places to try out new foods too, very cheap and not massive portions so you can have lots of variety.

    • This isn’t street food Dorian, this is Thai restaurant food. You will see pad thai on the street, but not much else mentioned here. Street food is good in Thailand, but I like my meals to be an event, I like to be sitting down, so we don’t often indulge in street food.

  7. What an amazingly detailed post.
    I’m more of a Chinese Yum Cha chick myself but my partner loves his Thai food too.

  8. Great write up! Thai food really is amazing, so healthy and always fresh. Thanks for sharing!

    Best wishes, Kate

  9. Great post as always. Our 8 year old son has a tree nut allergy so we were wondering how common tree nuts are in Thai cooking. Also, are the restaurants and vendors used to “nut free” requests. Thanks.

    • Wow Dave, no idea really! They use peanut oil a lot for frying and ground peanuts all over the place, if he’s OK with that I wouldn’t be too worried. But if he’s severely allergic to any traces of cashew contamination you may have a problem. They use almonds occasionally. They very rarely clean pans between dishes. Chef says ( he’s used to dealing with this stuff)…..the problem is the food products that may contain a trace of something tree nut based, a curry paste for instance. In a country where language is an issue you’re going to struggle. The big 5 star places will be all over it, but outside of there…it’ll be vague!

      • Thanks Alyson, that certainly helps. We are seeing an allergist soon and we hope our son will not test strongly for cashew allergies this time but we have to be prepared. By the way, we are one year away from our RTW trip and we absolutely love getting your blog every few days. Thank you for your inspiring stories and helpful lessons.

        • I was going to ask the same thing, as my daughter is allergic to peanuts. Traces of nuts aren’t bad but seems like Thailand may be a challenge for her. 🙁 That really bums me out! :). Food looks gorgeous though, I may have to go without her!!!

          • If she’s OK with traces of peanuts you should be OK. Not many foods have peanuts as a major constituent, except satay, obviously! I really feel for people with food allergies and I’m incredibly grateful that nobody in our family has any severe ones. I think visiting Thailand with a severe peanut allergy would be incredibly hard. Asians tend not to have peanut allergies, so places that don’t cater to tourists a lot maybe wouldn’t understand a nut allergy at all. Peanuts and peanut oil are so ubiquitous in Thai food. Buying food from a shop is difficult too, the 7-11 are full of highly processed packaged foods, we mostly won’t touch them, the best we can do from them is yoghurts. You’d probably find yourself in very expensive restaurants to cater for your allergy, or maybe the Western food outlets, Starbucks and Mc Donalds. I don’t know if they are safe, are they?

  10. Oh you’ve made me hungry!! We make laarb all the time and tom ton is one of our favs! Phó too even though that’s vietnamese. And green Papaya salad (but we ways mix in carrots and tomatoes when we make ours). Holy yum!!!


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