Why Thai? Discover This Versatile, Healthy Cuisine


Tried Thai cuisine in restaurants and now want to experiment at home? We can’t blame you. Thai dishes are a bit of an art form, with attention paid to creating harmonious meals that please both the palate and the eye.

The cuisine boasts fresh flavors, vibrant colors, and interesting textures that appeal to all of the senses. Sweet, sour, salty, hot, and oftentimes bitter tastes are all balanced so that no one flavor overwhelms.

Thai food is also extremely adaptable. The heat of a dish can be modified by reducing or omitting chilies or curry pastes. Cilantro can be replaced by parsley; peanuts can be left out. Vegetarians can substitute soy sauce for fish sauce and tofu for meat.

One thing to keep in mind before you start: Thai dishes require chopping, mincing, and slicing, so allow time or prepare ingredients ahead of time. Try a few of our favorite Thai recipes.

Crispy Cucumber Salad

From Complete Book of Thai Cooking by Linda Stephen
10 minutes prep time | serves 4

What You Need

  • 3 Tbsp lime juice or rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh red chilies, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

What You Do

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, 2 tablespoons of water, fish sauce, and sugar until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add cucumber, shallots, and chilies. Toss together and let stand 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with peanuts, mint, and cilantro.

Per serving: 55 Calories, 2 g Protein, 8 g Carbohydrates, 1 g Fiber, 2 g Total fat (1 g mono, 1 g poly), 350 mg Sodium

Spicy Tofu with Vegetables

From Complete Book of Thai Cooking by Linda Stephen
25 minutes prep time |  serves 4

What You Need

  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 12 oz firm tofu, patted dry, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, cut in matchstick pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in thin strips
  • 1 c sliced asparagus or green beans, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 1/2 tsp fresh red chilies, chopped
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

What You Do

  1. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Add tofu and stir-fry for 4 minutes, turning carefully, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  2. Add remaining oil to wok. Add shallots and garlic. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add carrot, red pepper, and asparagus or green beans. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add soy sauce, lime juice, chilies, sugar, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  5. Return tofu to wok. Cook for 1 minute, or until combined and heated through.

Per serving: 260 Calories, 16 g Protein, 14 g Carbohydrates, 4 g Fiber, 18 g Total fat (3 g sat, 9 g mono, 6 g poly), 295 mg Sodium, Good source of Vitamin C, Calcium, Manganese.

Red Lentil Curry with Coconut and Cilantro 

From Complete Curry Cookbook by Byron Ayanoglu and Jennifer MacKenzie
35 minutes prep time | serves 4

What You Need

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp gingerroot, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 c red lentils (masoor dal), rinsed
  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
  • 1/4 c torn cilantro leaves
  • Garam masala

What You Do

  1. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, salt, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in lentils until coated with spices. Stir in coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, scraping up bits stuck to pan and stirring to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer, stirring often, until lentils are very soft and mixture is thick, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Stir in all but a few leaves of cilantro. Serve sprinkled with remaining cilantro and garam masala.

Per serving: 314 Calories, 6 g Protein, 12 g Carbohydrates, 4 g Fiber, 28 g Total fat (20 g sat, 6 g mono, 1 g poly), 412 mg Sodium