Thai Food - Basic Ingredients For Everyday Thai


What You Need To Make Thai Food At Home

Thai food has become very popular in the United States.  This cuisine focuses on a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry and fish.  Many of these ingredients can be found in your local grocery store but there are several pantry basics you'll want to have on hand that give your Thai recipes that distinctive flavor.  This page describes each along with a suggested reliable brand.

Thai Condiments And Flavorings

Black Soy Sauce
black soy sauce

Fish Sauce

fish sauce

Black Soy Sauce (Siew Dam) A dark almost black syrupy sauce. The sweet sauce is used in stews or to flavor vegetables, beef or chicken. This is the most common ingredient in Thai cooking. It is also used in many other types of Asian cuisine. This sauce is called Nam Pla in Thai and Nuoc Mam in Vietnamese
Roasted Chile Paste
thai chile paste

Shrimp Paste
shrimp paste

Roasted Chilli Paste (Nahm Prik Pao) another Thai pantry staple, this paste is made from a ground combination of roasted and fried hot chiles, dried shrimp/fish, shrimp paste, garlic and shallots and seasoned with fish sauce, tamarind and palm sugar. The mixture is cooked together in oil until it turns to a thick, dark, burnt reddish color. Use to flavor soups like hot-and-sour prawn soup or add to stir-fries with seafood, meats or vegetables; noodle dishes. It is also made into a dipping sauce and a dressings for salads. In Thailand it is used on rice or crackers as a snack Shrimp Paste – Gkabi. A thick paste made of shrimp, salt and water. Shrimp paste is a key ingredient used for making Thai curry and it is also used in many spicy soups, salads, sauces and stir-fries

Thai Pantry Staples

Palm Sugar

palm sugar

Roasted Rice Powder

roasted rice powder

Palm sugar, nahm dtahn bpeep. In Thailand this rich flavored sugar is used in sweets, desserts and even sauces and curries Roasted (or toasted) rice powder (kao kua) is made from white rice that has been dry-roasted until the grains turn a rich brown color. The browned rice is then ground into a fine powder. Toss rice powder into salads to add a rich toasty flavor. It also serves to absorb juices to keep the salads dry. Roasted rice powder is used in spicy northeastern-style Thai salads
Rice Flour
rice flour

Coconut Milk
coconut milk

Rice flour is a typical Thai pantry item made from regular rice and used primarily used for making cakes and desserts. It is also used to thicken coconut milk. Coconut Milk/Cream (Gkati) - Coconut milk is not the watery juice found inside a coconut but it is actually the diluted cream pressed from the flesh of mature coconuts. Store up to one week refrigerated once it is opened. Use this rich flavored milk for Thai curries and for many desserts

Where To Buy Online

Find Ingredients Locally

Some Thai products may be found in the "ethnic" section of your local grocery store. Some of the less common items can be found in most Asian markets.  In the San Francisco Bay Area try Lion Markets for a large selection of Thai and other Asian ingredients.

Buy Thai Food Online

There are several good online companies that specialize in Thai Foods.  Here are a couple of our favorites:

ImportFood - Very good source for Thai ingredients. This company ships from Washington State.

TempleOfThai -  Temple of Thai ships foods and kitchenware from North Hollywood, California.

Both of these companies offer an excellent selection of high quality products.


Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.