Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
16 May 2013 - 12:35 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2021 - 12:54 PM

Banana bell or blossom

Banana Bell or Blossom is the flower of the banana plant. The tough outer leaves are discarded and the inner part finely shredded. This is then soaked in water with lemon juice to prevent browning. It has a crunchy texture and nutty flavour and is used in salads. The fresh blossom is much better than the canned version in terms of taste and texture.


A variety of chillies are used in Thai cooking, both fresh and dried. These include dried red chillis and fresh chillies.

Thai eggplant (apple eggplant)

Thai eggplant (apple eggplant) is about the size of a golf ball and is either white or green. The white are used in curries and the green, which are more crunchy, are typically used in salads. There is also very small pea eggplant that is eaten whole.

Fish sauce

Fish Sauce (nam pla) is a clear pale salty sauce. The most popular is the Squid brand.


A member of the ginger family, also known as laos root. It has a woody texture and is used to give flavour to Thai and other South East Asian cuisines. The flavour is similar to ginger, though somewhat sharper and the root has a harder woodier texture.

Makrut lime

Makrut lime is a similar size to a normal lime but the skin is bumpy. Both the grated skin and leaves are used and the fruit yields very little juice. When grating the skin, make sure that you only use the coloured surface. The flesh of the fruit is not used at all. The leaves, which are easily recognised by their unique double leaf, are often shredded very finely and used in salads.


A main ingredient in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisines, lemon grass is a root that can be used fresh, dried or powdered to impart its lemon flavour to sweet or savoury dishes. The tough outer layers need to be removed to expose the more tender, white and purple edged centre.


The sour juice is frequently used to balance sweetness in Thai dishes.

Palm Sugar

Palm sugar is similar to brown sugar and is sometimes sold in hard round disks that need to be grated. It had a slightly coconut flavour and a rich dark caramel colour.

Rick stick noodle

Rice stick noodle is available in many thicknesses. It needs to be soaked in cold water before adding it to a stir-fry.

Shrimp paste

A shrimp paste that is pressed into a block. It has an unpleasant pungent smell unroasted but once roasted the flavour isn't as strong. For best results, wrap a small amount in foil and put into a hot oven or hold over flame using tongs. Then cool and crumble.

Sweet Thai basil

Sweet Thai Basil has a mild aniseed small and is similar to Italian Basil, which can be used as a substitute if necessary although the flavour is different. It has dark green leaves with purple stems.


Tamarind has a sweet and sour flavour. It is available in a liquid version in a jar, or in a block form that is first soaked in water to separate the pulp from the seeds and then strained.

Thai hot or holy basil

Thai Hot or Holy basil has a strong, hot minty peppery flavour.

Thai seasoning sauce

Thai seasoning sauce is a Thai style soya bean sauce that has a different flavour to Chinese soy sauce. Popular brands include Golden Mountain or Maggi.