thai ingredient substitutions

Common Substitutions for Peculiar Thai Ingredients


As I was researching and gathering information for the Thai Flavor Profile, I began asking myself, “How come Thai dishes rarely make an appearance on my table?”. There are so many reasons why I should be attempting it more often. The ingredient list is usually minimal. Cook time is speedy. It is reasonably fresh and healthy dining. Not to mention, we could all use a little more variety in our meal schedule. So yes, more Thai food! Lets do it! It can be my belated New Year’s Resolution {one worth keeping}.

To answer my internal question, unfamiliar ingredients are what usually keep me from preparing a Thai dish at home. Even though these meals have a short ingredient list, often times they are items that I have trouble finding at the supermarket down the street. Furthermore, I am kind of lazy {cough}…I mean resourceful. I prefer not to search the world over to find special ingredients unless it is a special occasion. I just want to use what I have. Many of the flavoring agents in Thai cuisine I consider to be “special” ingredients.

So I decided to post a list of substitutions for those items that I don’t always have at my fingertips. If you decide to do a little reading on the topic, you will find that there are some purists that sneer at substitutions. My opinion is that at the heart of Thai cuisine is a spirit of simplicity and frugality. This splendid habitude gives us the creative license to use comparable ingredients when needed. To that I say, press on and cook!


chili paste substitutions

Srichicha sauce

 4 tablespoons hot sauce + 1 clove minced garlic

lime leaf substitutions

1 tablespoon lime zest = 6 leaves

lemon grass substitutions

1 tablespoon dried lemon grass = 1 stalk fresh lemon grass

1 tablespoon lemon zest = 2 stalks fresh lemon grass

rice noodle substitutions

fettucini

linguini

ramen

spaghetti

thai chili substitutions

cayenne peppers (fresh or dried)

jalapeno peppers (fresh)

serrano peppers (fresh)

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