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Picture of Thai foods. Thai cuisine is quickly becoming one of the most popular of world cuisines. The distinctive spiciness and unique blend of flavors make them a true standout.

While some of these characteristics have made their way over to the U.S., there are a few that have stayed in Thailand.

Read on to find out what makes Thai cuisine, well… Thai cuisine.

7. Thai Cuisine Prides Itself on the Perfect Balance of Flavors

Perhaps the most distinctive part of Thai cuisine is their impeccable blending of flavors.

While many Western dishes focus on one or two flavors at a time, Thai dishes aim to balance:

  • Sour.
  • Sweet.
  • Bitter.
  • Salty.
  • Spicy (which, of course, is the most important Thai flavor).

6. Thai Cuisine has Strong Outside Influences

China and Indian are the biggest influences on Thai cuisine.

The steel wok – famously associated with Thai food – was introduced by the Chinese.

While Thai curries are unique and distinctive from Indian curries, their origin is clear. The Thai people have made curry their own by adding their own spices and herbs, including holy basil, lemongrass, and galangal.

Other influences on Thai cuisine include:

  • Vietnam.
  • Cambodia.
  • Indonesia.
  • Laos.
  • Burma.
  • Malaysia.

5. Herbs, Herbs, and Herbs

Did you know that the Thai use at least three different types of basil? I didn’t even know there was more than one type of basil.

Curious what they are?

  • Lemon basil.
  • Sweet basil.
  • Holy basil.

Curious which kind of basil we’re most familiar with in the U.S.? Sweet basil.

4. Rice

Like many Asian countries, rice is a staple. No meal is complete without it.

There are two main types of rice used in Thai cuisine:

  • Khao Suey.
    White and non-sticky. Preferred in central and south Thailand.
  • Khao Niao.
    Yellow and sticky. Preferred in north Thailand.

In Thai culture, rice should be respected. It’s can be considered bad manners to waste it.

3. Thai Cuisine Sometimes Includes Insects

Okay, this is one you’re not likely to find in Thai restaurants around the U.S.

For Thai people, insects are a tasty snack. To be honest, they might be onto something. Insects are a good source of protein. They might also be the most sustainable source of protein.

If we could only make ourselves like insects the way the Thai do, we might do a lot more good for the environment.

2. Salting Fruit Juices

And here I thought Americans were unusually into their salt. I bet none of you have even considered putting it in your juice.

1. Impeccable Presentation

The look of a dish is very important. Thai chefs are trained not just in making a meal taste great, but also in making it look great. In particular, Thai chefs carve their foods to make them more decorative.

Unlike American foods which can be cheap and mass produced, meals in Thailand are important. Care is taken to make it great.