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Thai Spices and Seasoning Blends

Thai food is very unique in the way that every meal is made to appeal to four of the five senses. It is important that the food presented is aesthetically pleasing. Attention to detail and complexity of a dish are both emphasized. The texture or feel of foods is important to each aspect and ingredients are chosen to ensure this texture is correct. The diverse array of spices used in Thai food ensure both a tasty and deliciously aromatic meal every time.

Thai food is built around five essential flavors: salty, sour, spicy, bitter, and sweet. Between three and five of these flavors will be present in each dish of a Thai meal. The base of most Thai dishes is a paste that is usually made up of a menagerie of spices and seasonings. The most popular pastes are made with chiles, and most of the pastes are made by hand with a mortar and pestle.


Herbs and Spices

Many of the spices used in Thai cuisine are found regionally. This allows for the freshest spices and the freshest flavors available to be used in the cooking process. Thai food is famous for being flavorful and the use of these fresh spices and seasonings are a testament to the dedication that goes into making the best, most flavorful food possible.

  • Dried Spearmint Leaves give sweet flavors to Thai dishes.
  • Lemongrass is used for its citrusy flavor.
  • Turmeric is used for its earthier flavor and as a color enhancer in Thai dishes. Foods with turmeric are quite beautifully colored, which helps out with the overall aesthetic of the dish.
  • Ginger is used interchangeably with galangal since they have similar flavors and galangal is harder to find.
  • Coriander Seed Powder gives a subtle spice to dishes without being overpowering to the dish.
  • Peppercorns are used for a punch of real spiciness without the intensity of heat that you would get from chiles, which are also another popular aspect of Thai food.
  • Birdseye Chiles are the small, thin chiles with a big bite. They are one of the hottest chiles, with a Scoville Heat Unit rating ranging from 100,000-225,000. These chiles are very popular in Thai cooking and for those unfamiliar with their flavor and heat, they will leave you sweating.
  • Galangal is very similar to ginger, albeit slightly more intense. The flavor of galangal is sometimes compared to cinnamon, but you may find that it is tarter than cinnamon could be.
  • Kaffir Lime Leaf is used in nearly every curry or soup in Thai cuisine.
  • Basil is popular in Thai cooking because of its slightly sweet flavor.

Seasoning Blends

  • Spicy Thai Seasoning is excellent with meat, seafood, and vegetables. This versatile blend is made of garlic, onion, tomato, lemon, coriander, paprika, lemongrass, basil, cilantro, and white pepper which cover the four essential flavors.
  • Satay is a popular blend on street carts and in upscale restaurants alike. This blend is classically Thai.
  • Chinese Five Spice is a spice blend that hits not just four, but all five of the essential flavors. This blend is used on seafood and meat, especially chicken. Light colored meats and vegetables are great partners for this blend.

With all this colorful knowledge about the spices and seasonings that go into making Thai food as delicious as it is, you too can learn to master the flavors of Thai cooking. Maybe you will catch yourself adding some new flavors to familiar foods to give it more of a Thai flair. Maybe you will be inspired to throw a party and cook exclusively Thai food. Either way, expanding your food horizons with these Thai spices and seasonings is a good way to start on your journey with Thai food.


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