Thai Cooking Philosophy – It’s About Balance

Thai Food For Thought – The Philosophy of Thai Cooking

You may be surprised to know there is actually a philosophy behind Thai cooking, one of the world’s truly magnificent cuisines. Perhaps you are saying to yourself “I enjoy eating great Thai food, but I don’t think about what makes Thai food so wonderful”. Well, just in case you might be wondering, let’s take a moment and talk about some of the principals and traditions behind great Thai cooking. Then let’s go out and enjoy a great Thai meal.

The underlying foundation of Thai cuisine derives from the early Chinese cooking influence that date backs as early as the 10th century. This cooking tradition establishes a relationship between five fundamental tastes: bitter, sweet, sour, salty and spicy. Achieving a satisfying and exciting taste experience is accomplished by combining flavors from these five basic taste categories.

Thai Red CurryFor example, the basic ingredients used to make Thai red curry, shown in the photo to the left, include red chili paste (spicy), coconut milk (sweet), fish sauce (salty) and lemongrass or lime leaves (sour), covering four of the five basic taste sensations.

More important, striking the optimum balance between these five basic taste categories is the true art and technique behind the preparation of great Thai food. Balance is the key!

Creative Commons License photo credit: inyucho

And of course there’s a some magic to achieving the right balance between the flavors. The accomplished Thai cook relies much more on taste and experience than on measure to arrive at the right levels and quantities of each ingredient. You won’t find many chefs relying on measuring cups in Thailand. Also keep in mind, the flavor intensity of fresh ingredients will vary from one preparation to the next, so the cook has to rely on taste to get it right.

OK, that’s enough “thinking” about Thai food. If you love Thai food like we do, I’m sure you’d rather be “eating” a Thai meal than “talking” about one.

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3 Comments

  1. […] Thai Cooking Philosophy – It’s About Balance […]

  2. […] keeping with the Thai cooking philosophy of balancing the five basic tastes of bitter, sweet, sour, salty and spicy, Thai curry goes well […]

  3. Very informative and straight to the point. Gave a good all round idea of the basic flavors of Thai food.

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