Samples of What You Can Cook
Below you will find list of dishes that I am currently teaching. These dishes will also rotate on our menu. Some of the dishes have links to recipes. There are many other dishes that I have not put in the list. If you know something or have had something at a restaurant and want to learn how to cook that, we can create the menu together. All is flexible.
a thai meal
A Thai meal is based on rice. Because rice is neutral, it can be combined with any dish. When cooking Thai dishes, make the flavors more intense than your taste. The dish will go well with rice. Thai dinner is usually a combination of a soup, a curry, and a stir-fried dish. The most important thing to remember is the balance between different dishes. They have to complement each other. For example, if there is a curry that is spicy, there is usually a stir-fried dish that is mild. All dishes are put in the middle of the table and each has their own rice plate. Everything is served at the same time including soup. There is no appetizer per se. There are foods that are eaten outside the meal, which are served before the food. But basically, everything arrives almost at the same time. That is why at some Thai restaurants, appetizers arrive at the same time as the food or sometimes after some food. Everyone serves himself or herself by putting different dishes over their rice, one at a time.
outside the meal
(some of these can be eaten as a meal with rice)
Chicken, Pork or Beef Satay (satay kai, moo or nuer): It is believed that Satay is of either Indonesian or Malaysian origin. Satay is a Chinese word, however, which means “three pieces”. The grilled meat on skewers is usually eaten with cucumber relish. Satay is usually found in a place where is open air. You usually see the cook make Satay right in front of their restaurant and the smoky charcoal grill is the sign to look for a restaurant with Satay. The meat (beef, chicken or pork) is cut into small strips, marinated in spices like cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, fish sauce, garlic and peanuts. We usually see Satay as one of the dish in a restaurant that serves one dish like Pad Thai, chicken rice, or noodle soup. Very often, satay is found in a Chinese breakfast restaurant.
Salad: We call salad “yum” in Thai. Yum means to throw in together different ingredients. Thai salads can be enjoyed at any time of the day. The main ingredients of the salad are cooked and then tossed in the fresh salad dressing which is usually salty, sour, hot, and sweet, and with fresh uncooked ingredients like shallots, coriander, green onions or cucumber.
Spicy glass noodle salad (Yum Wun Sen): This spicy glass noodle salad can either be an appetizer or a main course. The family recipe that I have cooked use the mix of ground pork and shrimp together. Pork gives the strong flavor while shrimp gives a little sweetness to the salad. The meat is first minced sautéed with fish sauce and soy sauce before mixing with boiled bean thread noodles and a squeeze of lime, shallots, fresh chilies and chopped coriander. This dish is quite light to be an appetizer and good enough to put over rice as a main dish along with other dishes or just eat it alone as a one dish meal. It is one of those dishes that accompany drinks well.
Beef salad: Yum Nuer can be enjoyed hot or cold. The grilled or broiled beef is mixed with fresh ingredients like garlic, chilies, onions, lime and fresh green salad. This salad is quite a treat. It can be eaten as a meal on its own or as a dish to accompany rice or sticky rice. It is one of the most flavorful Thai dish.
Egg rolls (Po Pia Tod): bean thread noodles, mushrooms, crab meat wrapped in egg rolls paper. This dish can be eaten all day long as snacks or appetizer. Sweet and sour sauce accompanies this dish well.
Spicy minced chicken/pork/beef salad (larp kai, nuer, moo): Larp is made with minced meat, then cooked in dressing. Ingredients include long-leaf coriander, mint, coriander leaves and ground roasted rice. This dish comes from the northeast of Thailand and now can be found mostly at food stalls on the streets. It is usally eaten together with a few raw vegetables like cucumber, long beans or iceberg lettuce (this is an American choice of vegetable- which goes real well with larp).
Papaya salad (som tam): This is a real street food. You will find it everywhere on the streets in Thailand. Green papaya is grated and then bruised with a mixture of garlic, chillies, peanuts, lime juice, palm sugar and fish sauce. This is a dish you shouldn’t miss if you go to Thailand.
Waterfall beef (nam tok): Nam Tok is another northern salad which is similar to larp. Nam Tok uses a piece of grilled meat then sliced. The most common meat to be used is beef. The meat is usually cooked to medium-rare.
Wonton soup (kiuw narm): a light soup with ground pork, ginger, onion and garlic wrapped in wonton sheets, then boiled to make the soup. Sprinkled with ground pepper.
Shrimp Cake (Tod Man Kung): shrimp cake is usually eaten with the meal like fish cake. The cakes are served with sweet or plum sauce.
Mom’s pork cake (Tod Man Moo Kap Kao Pode): this is my mom’s recipe. We used to make it on weekends. Minced pork mixed with sweet corn, egg, peppercorn, coriander, and then made into patty and deep-fried.
Coconut soup (tom kha): an old-time favorite Thai food, tom kha. A creamy soup that is spicy, sour and sweet will go with anything on the table. Thais eat this dish as a main course but it is light enough to just be an appetizer. Usually, it will arrive at the same time as other food and each will have their own little bowl to share tom kha.
Spicy lemongrass soup (tom yam): a spicy and sour lemongrass soup has many different versions, from clear soup to creamy soup with milk or spicy and vibrant with roasted chili paste. Any version of this soup will clear your sinus and you will always beg for more.
Glass noodles soup (kaeng jued woon sen): a clear soup that has many different ingredients in it. Dried tofu, fungus mushrooms, ground pork, green onions, and a sprinkle of black pepper before served.
Prawn soup with slices of lime (kaeng jeud gung manao): I got this recipe from the Thai cookbook by David Thomson: Thai Food. The recipe is great and the soup is one of a kind.
Curry or “Kaeng” means a dish that is soupy. It does not have to have coconut milk, however, many do. I have grouped curries with coconut milk in this category and have grouped the ones without in the soup section.
Panang curry (panang): Panang is an all-time-favorite dish for everybody. The blend of sweetness, spices, Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves make this dish a one hard to resist. At many Thai restaurants, panang is sometimes called red curry. There is, however, an actual red curry.
Chuchee: Chuchee is a fancy curry. It is always made with seafood or fresh water shrimps or fish. After seasoning the curry, the soup should be simmered until a little drier than usual curry. This dish is usually served in a fine dining restaurant. The taste is smooth with a touch of sweetness. Finely chopped kaffir lime leaves and long chilies are added at the very end.
Green curry (kang keow warn): A long time favorite of Thai curries, green curry uses green chilies to make curry paste. The main character of green curry is the heat. It is usually made hotter than other kinds of curries. Any kind of meat can be used, beef, pork, chicken or even lamb. Seafood goes well with this curry too. I particularly like catfish green curry. Usually, eggplants, bamboo shoots are added to the curry after the meat is cooked. If seafood is used, vegetables are added first before the meat.
Yellow curry (kang kari): yellow curry has an influence from Indian curries. Curry powder is the main ingredient for this dish. Pickled vegetables like cucumber and red shallots usually accompany this type of curry. Potatoes and onions are used as vegetables for this dish. Sometimes, taro, white radish or sweet potato can also be used.
Masaman curry (kang masaman): the most common masaman uses chicken or beef with potatoes and onions. Fried red shallots are added at the end to the dish before served. This curry is sweet and a little spicy. The sweetness comes from peanuts that are in the paste and also added to the curry when cooking.
one dish - a real treat
Chicken rice (kao man kai): A dish with some influence of Chinese food. The whole chicken is boiled to make stock. The rice is first stir fried raw with garlic, ginger, coriander stem and then cooked in chicken stock. The key to this dish is the soy based sauce with garlic, ginger, chili, lime juice. You will find this dish everywhere in side street restaurants. A lot of places that served this dish usually serve some noodle soup and satay to go with it. I have never met anyone that did not fall in love with this dish. I have my Chicken Rice fans all over the place.
Pad Thai: although pad thai is not the most famous dish in Thailand, it seems to be a trademark of Thai food around the world. In Thailand, this dish is sold in small restaurants on the street or even at food stalls. It is much less common than other noodle dish and is found in specialty food stall. If you find pad thai, you will also find hoi tord or fried mussels. This flavorful dish can be enjoyed throughout the day. The key to pad thai is tamarind water that is added to give a real kick to this dish.
Pad See Ew: stir-fried vermicelli noodles or flat rice noodles with soy sauce, sugar, broccoli and egg. These are all the ingredients in this dish. This dish that is eaten as a meal or between meals.
Rice soup (kao tom moo or kai): this is the only official Thai breakfast. Thais eat the same food all day long. I often have curries for breakfast. When asked about Thai breakfast, this dish comes to mind. Chicken or pork sautéed with garlic and fish sauce is added to boiled rice. Many times left over rice is used to make this dish but I prefer to boil raw rice because the rice will release its aroma to the soup and rice soup will be more gluttonous. Fresh coriander, deep-fried garlic and ground pepper are added before serving.
Drunken noodles (Pad Kee Mao): this is a stir-fried noodles dish that can use spaghetti, linguini, fettuccini or flat rice noodles. Spicy paste made of chilies and garlic is stir-fried with noodles, your choice of meat and Thai basil. This is a dish that gives a real kick to the tongue.
Pad Spaghetti Salted Fish (pad spaghetti pla kem): this is another version of spaghetti or fettuccini noodles stir-fried with salted fish. You can use anchovies instead of salted fish. It works well too. Dry long chilies are added to the dish to add great aroma and flavor.
Fried rice in pineapple with curry powder (kao pad sapparod): this fried-rice is elegantly served in a halved pineapple after using the meat to cook the dish. A touch of curry powder that is added to the rice makes this dish a specialty.
stir fried rice
(pad): in Thai, pad means to stir-fry. So, all the dishes that are stir-fried have pad in their names.
Spicy basil (pad ka prao): Ground meat or seafood stir-fried in garlic and chili paste, then Thai basil is thrown in. Holy basil is used for this dish, however, it is difficult to find that in local market. Unless you grow it, the paste has to be bought and then add Thai sweet basil for freshness. A deep fried egg goes well with this hot and sizzling dish.
Stir-fried vegetables with shrimp, chicken or pork (pad pak): Broccoli, asparagus, Chinese bocchoy, spinach, and many other vegetables can be used. The dish is simple and will take only less than 10 minutes to make. One or mixed vegetables can be used with or without meat or shrimp. The dish is mild in nature and would complement anything on the table.
Ginger with pork, beef or chicken (pad king): this dish has a little touch of sweetness that harmonize spiciness of ginger. Soybean paste and thick soy sauce is added to enhance flavor. Meat can be ground or sliced to make this dish. If pork or beef is used in this dish, I prefer to mince them.
Chicken and cashew nut (kai pad med ma muang himmaparn): with dried big chilies, onions and roasted cashew nut, this dish is a great combination of all taste. The dish is a little sweet, salty and spicy (very little spice). It has become the most ordered dish when foreigners visit Thailand.
Eggplant with basil (pad makeau yao): Eggplants are sweet after being cooked in the heat. The touch of Thai basil makes this stir-fried dish a mellow yet flavorful. My mom often adds ground pork to the dish. It is also good without the pork.
Chicken or pork garlic and pepper (kai or moo pad gratium prik thai): a stir-fried/deep-fried marinated chicken or pork with garlic and black pepper. The smell of garlic and pepper when being cooked will surely make your mouth water.
Thai Omelet (kai jeaw): simple yet embellished. This dish is a way to cook eggs that all Thai boys and girls learn to do as their first dish and for some, the only dish they know how to make. Eggs beaten and seasoned with ground pork, onion, cilantro (optional), fish sauce and then fried in a flat pan with some vegetable oil. It is something that will please every taste.
Thai Beef Jerky (neur dade deaw): a real simple dish that can be enjoyed with other food, alone with rice, with drinks or by itself. The beef is sliced and marinated in fish sauce and a little sugar. Then, it is dried in an oven with lowest heat with the door opened. When completely dried, the meat can be kept for weeks in the fridge. Deep fried beef jerky goes well with sticky rice and salads like beef salad or spicy mince chicken salad.
Three flavored Fish (pla sarm rod) click for recipe: the fish is deep fried either in pieces or in whole. The sauce is a combination of palm sugar, tamarind water, fish sauce and chilies. The three flavors are sour, sweet and spicy.
Pad prik king: this is a dry curry stir fried with any choice of meat or even seafood. The paste is stir-fried with oil instead of coconut cream. It is a spicy and sweet dry curry. The paste is made with dried red chilies. An addition of green beans makes this dish irrisistable.
Steam fish with ginger (pla nueng king): a dish with an influence of Chinese cooking. Any kind of white fish can be used: snapper, cod or sea bream. The whole fish is used to steam with ginger, soy sauce, a pinch of sugar and sprinkled with green onions and cilantro to serve.
Steam fish curry (hormok pla): fish is steamed with curry and egg, the result is a smooth and delicate texture. The mixture is put in banana leaf made into little cups and steamed over medium heat.
Sticky rice and mango (kao neuw mamuang): the combination of ripe mango and sweet sticky rice is good all year round although mangoes are much better in summer. Cooked sticky rice is marinated in sweet coconut milk overnight and topped with the sweet coconut cream before serving.
Coconut Egg Custard (sangkaya): the custard can be cooked in a bowl in a steamer or you can hollow a pumpkin and pour the mixture in the pumpkin and steam it. If cooked by itself, it is usually served with sweet sticky rice that is served with ripe mango.
Banana in Coconut Milk (kluey buad chee): banana cooked in coconut milk, a little salt and sugar, an easy dessert that is will take minutes to prepare.
Grilled banana with grated coconut and salt (gluay pao): babana always make good Thai desserts. This easy recipe is another one from David Thomson in his book. Easy yet refreshing.