The secret to Thai food rely on two things, Thai Herbs and Thai Sauce. Herbs are all about the scent but the mouth watering taste comes from the sauce. Delicious Thai dishes come from perfect Thai sauce recipes. If you get the combination right, you are on your way to cooking perfect Thai Food.
The next time you find yourself in a Thai restaurant, look over to your neighbors’ table. Often time, you’ll find small extra Thai sauces in those dishes, unless your particular Thai restaurant caters specifically to non-Thais. I guess what I’m saying is, the more Thai sauces you find on the tables the more authentic Thai food you’ll get. It’s usually a good sign if those sauces in the small plates taste good. You can assume that other sauces probably come from a well made sauce recipes. Better yet, if you see condiments with Thai sauce and spices on the table, you know this restaurant is pretty authentic. Thai cooking is about blending herbs, spices, and sauces together. There’s no better way to deliver all the intense flavors than Thai sauce. Thai sauce is divided into two categories, cooking sauce and dipping sauce.
- Prik Naam Pla (fish sauce with sliced chili and lime juice) – a universal sauce that goes with almost every rice dishes. Some restaurants included it in the condiment.
- Prik Naam Som (chili & vinegar sauce) – condiment used to flavor noodles
- Naam Prik Pao (roasted chili paste) – condiment used in variety of dishes (soups, salads, stir fries). Some Thais use Nam Prik Pao as jam substitute to spread on toast.
- Aa-jaad (pickled cucumber Salad) – great dipping sauce for fried fish cakes, satay, and other fried appetizers
- Naam Jiem Saate (peanut sauce) – one of the most popular Thai sauces outside of Thailand. It tastes so good people do not only use it to dip Satay but use it as salad dressing, pizza sauce substitute, pad Thai sauce substitute, and much more. The American should call it “See Food” sauce, whatever food you see you dip in this sauce.
- Naam Jiem Talay (Seafood Sauce) – yes, you’ve guessed it. Naam Jiem Talay is a dipping sauce for all your seafood need. Move over melted butter! Get ready for a fiesta in your mouth. This bad boy is full of flavor and once you take a bite, the intense combination of spicy, sour, salty and sweet will knock your socks off (if made right).
- Naam Jiem Buoi (plum sauce) – popular among kid and people who cannot handle spicy food. Nam Jiem Buoi is great for any fried dishes.
- Jig Choe (vinaigrette soy sauce) – use for making hot and sour soup and dipping sauce for pot sticker and Dim Sum.
- Naam Jiem Gai (chicken dipping sauce) – sweet and spicy sauce. Great with BBQ chicken
- Naam Jiem Seir Rong Hai (crying tiger sauce) – Crying Tiger is one of the more popular dishes in the US. Seared medium rare beef served with dipping sauce, consists of fish sauce, ground roasted rice, chili pepper, soy sauce, and lime juice.
- Nam Pla (fish sauce) – for adding salty flavor. Use in soups, stir fry, and making sauces. You will find fish sauce in dishes like Tom Yum (hot and sour soup), Tom Kah (coconut soup), and pad krapow (stir fry basil).
- Nam Som Sai Choo (vinegar) – for adding sour flavor. Use in soups and sweet and sour stir fry.
- Pad Thai Sauce - use for cooking pad Thai. Pad Thai recipe will be given in our later article.
- Phu Khao Tong (Green lid soy sauce) – flavored soy sauce. one of the important sauce which included in many Thai stir fry sauce recipe
- See iew Dum (Sweet black soy sauce) – for making Pad See iew (Sweet sir fried noodle with chinese broccoli and meat). Ingredient in Khao Mun Khai (Broiled chicken meat over flavored rice) dipping sauce
- See iew khao (light soy sauce) – important sauce in many dipping sauce.
- Tammarin Juice – important ingredient in pad thai sauce. Included in some dipping sauce and Thai Khang Som soup (Sour soup with tammarin based)
- Oyster sauce – ingredient in many Thai stir fry sauce recipe including sweet and sour stir fry.
- Curry paste – All curry pastes have similar herbs and spices but different proportion.
- Green curry paste
- Yellow curry paste
- Red curry paste
- Mussamun curry paste
- Chu chee curry paste
- Panang curry paste
- Khua Kling curry paste (Southern Thai food)
- Khang Pa curry paste (Not popular in foreign country)
- Khang Som curry paste (Not popular in foreign country)
As you can see from the list above, Thai food rely mostly on Thai sauce. When you mix and match sauces, they become totally different dishes.
Even the same dishes, different proportion make a big difference in flavor. That’s why sauce recipe is the key to separate good Thai food from outstanding Thai delicac