top of page
  • Writer's pictureMolly

More Tips to Make Better Thai Food at Home!

Updated: May 31, 2022

Cooking a new cuisine at home can be really tricky, especially when you're doing it on your own! Below are some tips to help you get the best possible final product!

1. Scrutinize the author of your recipe! This one is probably the most important in the list and is something I feel very strongly about. Without going into too much of a rant, there are a lot of low quality recipes online for Thai food. Unfortunately, the large American food magazines and websites have done a poor job over the years of collaborating with experts in Thai cuisine to write and test their Thai recipes. For those of us who have studied Thai cuisine or know it well, it is quite clear with a quick view of the ingredients list that the people writing these recipes know virtually nothing about the cuisine. This is why I wrote my posts on The Best Thai Food Blogs & Youtube Channels to Follow and the Best Thai Cookbooks to Buy. There is a lot of really great content available, but it can be outweighed by the bigger food websites. Just take a few minutes to look into the relationship the recipe developer has to Thai cuisine. How did they cultivate enough knowledge to actually write a recipe worth sharing...? Are they Thai, or did they study in Thailand or apprentice at a Thai restaurant? If not, maybe move along to someone who really knows what they're talking about to advise you in your culinary journey!

2. Don't make a lot of substitutions in a recipe. This sounds obvious, but it's very common that as home cooks, we will naturally substitute ingredients when we can't find everything we need at one store. I've received photos from readers showing me their shopping hauls for my recipes, and I quickly realize that over 50% of the ingredients they've bought are substitutes from what my recipe calls for. When you're making a lot of substitutes for the ingredients in a recipe, you're actually creating your own recipe. If you want your end product to match what you're seeing online or in a cookbook, you have to stick to the recipe and only substitute ingredients when the recipe developer suggests them. Otherwise, the recipe developer isn't responsible for your results.

3. Get the proper Thai herbs and sauces. There are many types of soy sauce and each have their intended purpose. Thai recipes call for Thai soy sauce and a Chinese soy sauce will not work for a Thai preparation. My advice here is to take your time to collect your ingredients. Get the correct Thai soy sauce and the good coconut milk, find fresh galangal, get real sticky rice and really fresh beautiful cilantro. A lot of things in Thai cuisine can be hard to track down, so when you find the fresh galangal, makrut lime leaves and lemongrass in an Asian market, buy them when they look fresh and freeze them. That way they will be ready when you've collected everything you need for your recipe! For more info in Thai ingredients, including links to Thai sauces on Amazon, see this post!

4. If in doubt, leave it out! This is in reference to the above section on substitutions. Often it's better to just leave out an ingredient rather than substituting, especially when there isn't a good substitute available. Ingredients like galangal, lemongrass, makrut lime leaves are all very unique herbs without good substitutions. Leave them out of the dish if you can't find them. If it's just one ingredient in a small quantity, your end product might still be ok when you omit something. If the ingredient is the star of the show, or called for in a substantial amount, then you should wait to make the dish until you can find that ingredient. In this case, look for another dish with the ingredients you do have, so you and make something really beautiful that you will enjoy!

5. Get familiar with the ingredients, with how they look and smell. Oftentimes the really hard to find herbs will have traveled a long time to get to us in the West and they can arrive old, sad and oxidized. I find this to of