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Soy Beans and their Many Uses in Thai Cooking

Walking through a supermarket in Thailand, you will notice there will be a full aisle with soy products. They range from the dried soybeans to milk. They all use the same product but they are prepared and used in different ways.

Soybeans have been used in Asia for thousands of years and are actually an oil seed, not a pulse, which they are commonly mistaken for. The beans were once considered to be important in Asian countries such as China, Thailand, and Korea, as they were thought to be sacred by farmers, who, up until 1920, did not use the bean for food but rather for industrial purposes when growing other crops.

One form in which soybeans are used and commonly sold throughout Thailand is oil. Soy oil can be found across Thailand in large and small supermarkets. The soybeans naturally contain 19% oil, which is extracted by first cracking them, and rolling them flat so they become a flake-like substance. After being blended and refined, the oil is ready. Leftover flakes are then given to animals to eat, or sold to people with farm animals, due to them being a natural source of protein.

Another large section of the supermarket will be predominantly for dairy substitutes, which are also made with soybeans. Milk and drinks are the most common soy product you’ll find, and they are often sold in small bottles, with extra calcium supplements added. Yogurts are also available.

Possibly the most common use for the soybean in Thailand is soy sauce. The sauce usually comes in a dark or light variety. The light sauce is mainly used to flavour rice and noodles, whereas the darker sauce, which is thicker, is mainly used more sparsely in soups or sauces. Both are salty in taste, which is why conventional salt is not used as much in Asian countries.

Be sure to click through the links throughout this blog to discover the range of soy products available through Thai Food Online.

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