Thai food is composed of herbs as the main compositions which refer to plants and vegetables including seasonings and spices.
These represent the identity of the Thai food.
Spices are used to season the odors, tastes and colors of the foods and as well to prevent thus Thai food is appropriate to good health.
Coriander (Pak Chee)
Coriander or Pak Chee can be used by every part; plant, root, leaves and fruits. Normally, the coriander leaves are sprinkled to season the food, while the coriander fruits are mixed in the soup and curry for good smell and its root is used together with garlic in soup and some kind of snacks and desserts.
The rhizome of krachai is used in some specific mixture, almost are for fish soup; Nam Ya Pla and Kaeng Som due to the spicy and bitter taste of krachai that are good to reduce the fishes’ savory and as well to other fish dishes; Phad Phed Pla Dook (spicy fried catfish) and Kaeng Khiao Wan Pla Graay, etc.
Lemon grass (Ta Kai)
Lemon or Ta Kai is spicy and bitter and used for seasoning the Thai food and as the main ingredient in every recipe of Kaeng Phed, spicy salads and Tom Yam.
Thai people use ginger to reduce the fishes smell in many dishes; Tom Som, steam fish with lime or fry with meat and as well ingredients in Miang (tidbits), such as Miang Kum, Miang Pla Tou, Miang Som. It is also mixed with pickling, mussels, Tai Pla, Saeng Wha, etc.
Chopped ginger is tasty to fry with meat and as well Yam Pla Tu, Yam Khing, Yam Pla Kra-pong and Yam Hoy Kraeng. Pickled ginger is a good supplement to boiled rice and many types of paste. Ginger juice and ginger boiled in syrup and mixed with mung bean or sweet potatoes are tasty desserts.
Galangal or Kha is used both its flowers as vegetables and fresh and hard rhizomes. The hard rhizome is very spicy and good to season many recipes of chilli pastes, the fresh rhizome is found good in Tom Kha Kai.
Holy basil (Kra Prao)
Holy basil or Kra prao or sacred basil is used in Kaeng Pha, Keang Kae and some spicy fried meat dishes to reduce the savory of the fish meat. Fresh leaves are sprinkled on food before removing from heat.
Turmeric or Kamin is used in curry dishes, normally in Kaeng Phed, Kaeng Tai Pla and Kaeng Luang and as well other dishes of southern food. It is also good as a coloring agent.
The popular species of chilli used for cooking are hot chilli, red, green and yellow chilli, sweet peper, etc. which are different in the levels of its spicy tastes.
Chilli can be used both fresh and dried or pickling in vinegar and to every dish that requires hot and spicy tastes.
Thai cooking makes extensive use of both fresh Green Peppercorns (prik thai awn) and ground Dried Peppercorns (prik thai pohn).
Onion (horm yai) is a popular Thai Folk Remedy. It is applied to tumors, made into a syrup for relieving coughs and prepared (using gin) into a tincture to relieve "Dropsy". Many herbal practitioners consider it a weaker version of Garlic. Like Garlic, Onion has a longstanding but unsubstantiated reputation as an aphrodisiac.
The Kiffir Lime (ma-krut) is unusual, in that its skin is often very lumpy, unlike other citrus fruits. Some Thais wash their hair with an herbal shampoo made from the juice because it is supposed to prevent dandruff. Some people even believe that the Kaffir Lime wards off evil spirits (like Garlic for vampires), and hang it outside their houses.
Thai Sweet Basil
Thai Sweet Basil (ho-ra-pa) is similar to the variery used in Italian cooking. Sweet Basil oil can be used to make a curative drink to treat indigestion caused by eating too much meat. The oil helps to kill germs, induce sweating and clear phlegm. Fresh Sweet Basil makes a great natural breath freshener - just pop a few leaves in your mouth and give them a chew. Sweet basil also contains the known cancer-fighting substance beta carotene.
This well known plant herb used the world over is also used extensively in Thai cuisine, where it is called "gra-thiem". Garlic has been medically proven to contain allicin, which can reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.