Is That Authentic Thai Food ?

Thai Stir Fry Meal – Authentic or NOT?



What tells us if we are getting authentic Thai food at our favourite Thai restaurant?

What are the essential things that make something authentic Thai food ?

It may be helpful to ask some of the following questions:

  • Who is the chef responsible for the restaurants food ?
  • Are they using traditional Thai cooking techniques?
  • Are they only using the exact ingredients that would naturally be used in a traditional Thai kitchen?
  • Does the food taste like it is authentic Thai food or has there been adjustments made to the original recipes/cooking techniques to accommodate the tastes of westerners?

Let’s also not forget that when travelling around Thailand you will find that the flavour of some of the most well known Thai dishes will differ from region to region.

Many of the dishes that are well known in specific areas of Thailand may not have a pleasing  taste or smell to non Thai people.

Most westerners have not grown up eating food that has lots of chilli added in the cooking process and Thai people generally  don’t like to eat anything that is not prepared with chilli. People from an Anglo Saxon background have probably grown up adding salt and pepper as a seasoning to almost every savoury meal they cook or eat. Some add salt and/or pepper to a meal even before their first mouthful, just out of habit.

Therefore can Thai food prepared with very little or NO chilli at all, really be considered  an authentic Thai dish?

A common reason to claim that a Thai meal cooked outside of Thailand may not actually be authentic, is that some ingredients may not be available locally and substitutes may be needed. If you can’t get one of these items fresh, what effect will it have on the final taste if you are forced to use a substitute? Some of the traditional ingredients such as fresh lemon grass, galangal, coriander or even kaffir lime leaves, may need to be grown in your own garden if they are not be available from local suppliers.


In a traditional Thai kitchen the sauce base for a stir fry dish or the curry paste for a traditional Thai curry, would normally be made by blending fresh ingredients in a mortar and pestle, rather than using a packaged sauce or curry paste. However items such as fish sauce and the various soya sauces are probably the mass produced popular brand products that have become common place in the modern Thai home kitchen.

In a Thai restaurant, packaged sauces and curry pastes may be used simply to speed up the cooking process. For example coconut milk or cream added to a Thai dish will usually come from a packet or tin and will probably be a popular brand imported direct from Thailand.

Some may therefore argue that a Thai meal cooked with coconut milk that  is not prepared in the traditional way of adding freshly prepared coconut milk, can not strictly speaking be authentic Thai. Traditionally just enough coconut milk is extracting from freshly squeezed coconut pulp for the meal being prepared.

If you are cooking Thai food at home, try to follow a recipe that is as close to authentic as possible, but some compromises may need to be made if you can’t source the ingredients or if you find it takes to long to prepare and become disheartened.

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