The great thing about Thai cooking is that there really isn’t much in the form of special equipment. Most of what you already have in your kitchen will work well in making Thai food. That being said, there are definitely some staple items that are used in the Thai kitchen that will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to Thai cooking. Here’s a list of a few of the basics.
Wok – A good wok is the foundation of great Thai cooking. A steel/iron wok is used for most cooking including sauteing veggies, cooking up soups, etc. Thanks to a great follow on Twitter (@wokstar – check her out!), I received some more info on woks and proper pans. Because Thai food is often cooked at higher temperature settings, non-stick is not the best option. Using a steel/iron wok and relying on the oils used in cooking is much better and safer. See this link for the reasoning. Thanks @wokstar!
Spatula – There is a special kind of spatula made for use with woks. It will make your life easier. It’s the right shape to get down into the bottom of the wok and scoop up all the liquids and goodies. If you’re buying online, it might be called a wok shovel.
Mortar and Pestle – This is used to make all the different pastes and herb mixtures used in Thai cooking. Usually Thais use a stone set for these purposes. You’ll find wooden sets out there as well but these are usually used for making certain salads like Som Tam that require mashing up veggies and other larger ingredients. You can use a big bowl instead but the stone really allows you get get into the grind so to speak 🙂
Rice Cooker – This is a fantastic invention and makes cooking rice so much easier. Every family in Thailand has one. If you’re interested in spending a little more money, you can look for one that cooks both normal rice and sticky rice. That will cut out the need for the next piece of equipment.
Sticky Rice Steamer Kit – This kit contains a bamboo basket and usually a tin pot. I won’t explain exactly how it works here but it allows you to cook sticky rice to be eaten with things like Som Tam, grilled chicken, and the every popular Mangoes with Sticky Rice 🙂
Cleaver – This is really the only knife that you need for Thai cooking. If you have a good one it can be used to cut up meats, vegetables, herbs, and anything else you might need.
Shredder and Peeler – These two are used just as they are in the states – for prepping veggies and other ingredients. They are used at just about every cooking session. There is a specific Thai shredder that is used for the papaya salad. I’ll try and get more info on that but until then, a normal cheese grater would probably do just fine.
Cutting Board – You definitely need a decent cutting board. A wood board is usually used in Thailand, often a circular flat section of a tree trunk (very authentic!) but any wood board in the states would work too. You can use a plastic one as well but you want something a bit more grounded so it doesn’t move around a bunch.
Plating Equipment – If you’re going for the full Thai affect at your meal, there are tons of different plating dishes that you can look into as well. There are specific metal warming bowls used for soups, special trays for fish, sticky rice bamboo containers, etc. They are all pretty cook but are definitely unnecessary unless you’re trying to look professional or open up your own restaurant 🙂 I can provide more info if you want it.