Rice is a staple in the Asian diet. It’s so central to the Thai cuisine, as well, that often people will feel out-of-sorts when they don’t consume rice for a few days! It’s not just tasty and a great companion to most Thai dishes, it’s comfort food! To see a bit about different types of rice you can check our blog post here written awhile back. Here, we’ll start to delve into HOW we eat that rice that is so central to cuisine and culture here in Thailand.
Eating with a spoon and fork: It’s very common in Thailand to eat rice with a spoon and fork along with your favorite stir-fry, curry or made-to-order dish. Most dishes can be ordered as a ‘one-dish’ serving, with the rice and menu item on the same plate, in a portion sized for one person, or you can order a series of dishes to share at the table and the rice can be ordered by plate per person. Then you are able to sample multiple dishes by scooping a portion onto your own plate and eating it alongside your rice. Jasmine rice is the rice of choice – it is flavorful, light and has a lovely aroma that makes most other types of rice seem boring in comparison! The food-delivery utensil is the spoon itself, while the fork is used to help scoop the food onto the spoon. A large majority of dishes (except for noodles or the occasional Chinese meal) are eaten this way in Thailand.
Eating with your hands: Some rice you will find both on the street and in restaurants can also be eaten with your hands! In most cases this is sticky-rice or Kao Neow. It is compact and easy to eat with your hands as it is easy to grab and eat on the go or without making a big mess. Sticky rice is most often eaten with grilled pork or chicken, spicy papaya salad and other Isan (Northeasten Thai) specialties. It is also quite common in Thai desserts and you will even find it wrapped in beautiful banana leaves, grilled and with tasty fillings such as beans or banana, out on the street. In these cases, it is quite alright to go ahead and dive in with your hands! Kao Jee is another popular Northeastern Thai (Isaan) style snack which is ideal for eating with your hands (when not hot off the grill!). Sticky rice is mixed with egg and grilled to create a lovely rice cake with a crispy exterior. This also gives it a touch of smoky flavor, and a soft inside.