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Essential Thai Cooking Tools and Tableware

Whether you’re a new to Thai cooking or a well seasoned Thai cuisine enthusiast looking to level-up their recipes with the best tools, we’re sure that our list of top 5 Thai cooking tools and tableware will make preparing Thai food so much easier and more enjoyable. The great thing about Thai cooking utensils is that they’re also great for preparing other Asian cuisine and recipes too, so you will get plenty of use out of these cooking tools. Keep reading to discover the ultimate checklist of must-have tools and tableware for Thai cuisine…

 

thai pestle and mortar

Pestle and Mortar

One of the most essential Thai cooking tools to have ready in your kitchen is a pestle and mortar. Whether blending herbs and spices, these are perfect for crushing, grinding and muddling a range of fresh or dried ingredients to release their flavours, aroma and improve their texture for use in recipes. 

In Thailand, chilli and curry pastes are typically prepared in a pestle and mortar; and while technically the curry paste texture can be achieved using a blender or food processor, these methods aren’t as effective in drawing out the deep flavours of ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves or even seeds for example. 

 

thai sticky rice steamer baskets

Sticky Rice Steamer Baskets

 We know what you’re thinking. With all the various types of steamer pots in the west, why is a Thai bamboo steamer essential? Well these steamers are actually specifically designed for preparing Thai and Lao style sticky or glutinous rice.

In the west, we’re very familiar with Thai jasmine rice but in Thailand, the more popular form of rice is Thai sticky rice.This is the mildly flavoured rice, not the rich sweet coconut flavoured rice used for the traditional Thai dessert with mango. Sticky rice can be found across many street food vendors, restaurants, and is cooked regularly in family homes. Its flavour can be adjusted to suit the meal from mildly savoury to more sweet, accompanying foods like chicken, pork, in snacks or desserts. Sticky rice is an integral part of Thai cuisine and as such, a utensil specifically for cooking it is much required. 

Bamboo sticky rice steamer baskets are traditionally made from handwoven bamboo into an invert triangular shape with extended ends. This feature makes the baskets great for turning over when serving rice, although in Thailand, these baskets can be served communal-style at the dinner table for diners to take a handful portion to eat from their plates. 

An alternative to these larger bamboo sticky rice steamers would be smaller, cylindrical sticky rice containers which serve the same purpose in the preparation of Thai sticky rice, however, are more suitable for serving smaller portions; for example, if you’re only looking to make sticky rice for yourself. 

 

Thai wok pan

Wok Pan

If you’re familiar with Thai recipes, then you will know that woks are the go-to pan for cooking a lot of dishes, from salad recipes like Laab Namtok to curry recipes and of course, stir-fry classics like Thai Fried Rice, Pad Thai and much more.


Woks make the perfect cooking tool for preparing Thai cuisine because of their design and their ability to reach optimum heat levels within the centre of the pan to achieve the quick-fire style cooking method of many Thai and Asian recipes. This essentially means quick, thorough cooking without affecting the quality of the ingredients used. Wok pans aren’t only great for stir frying, their depth also makes them great for boiling when making soup and broth based recipes and they’re also good for steaming. 


Woks come in various sizes and materials but the most authentic wok for Thai cooking is a round-bottom carbon steel wok. These woks have a round bottom which is usually placed over a pit style hob which maximises the heat distribution across the pan. Round bottom woks are more commonly used in restaurants in the west but in Thailand can be seen used at home, by street food vendors or in restaurants. 


Obviously, round bottom woks aren’t suitable for most british stove tops and so regular flat bottom carbon woks would be the best option. However, it should also be noted that carbon steel woks are ideal for cooking with gas hobs and unfortunately aren’t compatible with electric or induction hobs. If you have an electric or induction cooker, the best option would be to use a good quality non-stick wok instead, these will also improve the cooking process and heat food evenly when cooking.

Chopsticks noodle pull

Chopsticks

When it comes to chopsticks, the truth is we’d be cheating to say they are 100% essential in this list because traditionally, chopsticks are not an essential tableware tool in Thai cuisine and culture. However, Thai people have adopted them for Chinese cuisine and sometimes choose to use them when eating noodle based dishes.. It should be noted that this is completely by personal choice and that Thai food is typically consumed using a combination of a fork and spoon, especially rice based dishes. 


Despite this, with the number of Thai noodle recipes such as Pad Thai, Drunken Noodles, Khanom Jeen and Yum Woon Sen, we thought it only made sense to include these as a hand tableware tool for ease when eating such recipes. 

Pad Thai served on banana leaf

Banana leaf 

    Banana leaves are the most unique item on this list of essential Thai cooking tools because  in Thai cuisine, they can be considered both an ingredient and cooking utensil. Banana leaf is often used to wrap ingredients such as fish, sticky rice, fruits and even banana leaf wrapped desserts before they are cooked on the barbecue, steamed or baked. You could think of banana leaves as the Thai version of western aluminium foil but with added flavour and aroma benefits.

    Alternatively, banana leaves can also be used in a more simple way to serve spreads of Thai food, be it at an event or family get-together. Their lush green colour makes for a great palate to serve Thai dishes which are vibrant in appearance just as much as taste. Thai appetisers or finger foods such as Tod Man Khao Pod, Gai Satae and Kung Sarong are most popular when it comes to presenting Thai food on banana leaves.

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