Rice is the staple food for Thais, eaten with most meals, from breakfast to dessert. In fact, in Thai language, if you say you are hungry or you want to eat you literally say “I want to eat rice.” Its should be unsurprising to learn then that Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice and that Thai rice includes more than one strain, each of which has its own characteristic and flavor. The most esteemed Thai rice is Jasmine Rice, sweet-smelling long-grain rice that is indigenous to Thailand. Served steamed, jasmine rice is the finest rice to accompany most dishes, including Thai curries. While Jasmine rice is the most coveted, it is also the most expensive. Consequently, most restaurants serve Khao Suoy, “beautiful rice”, a plain white variety that grows in abundance and is consumed with all style of entrée. Khao pad or “fried rice” is made with fried with pork or chicken, chilies and fish sauce, typically with leftover Khao Suoy, so as not to waste leftover rice that is a bit “stale”. Khao Tom is a popular breakfast dish, a salty porridge-like soup that is cooked with pork and garlic. Khao Niaw, “sticky rice” is eaten by hand when served with dishes of northeastern influence, such as grilled chicken (gai yang) and spicy papaya salad (som tam); however, sticky rice is a crucial ingredient in a favorite Thai dessert, sticky rice and mango.
While noodle dishes are quite common in Thailand (an influence brought by Chinese migrants) most Thai dishes are stir fried or grilled and served with rice. Fish (blah), pork (moo), beef (neua), and chicken (gai) are all prepared in a variety of ways, though typically cut into bite sized pieces and stir fried with various spices, such as garlic, chili, and/or basil. Fish and chicken are frequently grilled or fried, fish typically cooked and served whole.