Thai herbs

Basic Thai Herbs – All you need to know

Basic Thai Herbs

Hi guys! In this post I want to tell you all about the basic Thai herbs.

In Thai food traditionally, most of the dishes have herbs as part of the ingredients. This is because Thailand is a tropical country, and, therefore a lot of green plants and herbs are easily grown in this kind of tropical area.

we put herbs in many food because the herbs isn’t only add the aroma to the dish, it also balanced out the flavour. Moreover, they have a lot of heath benefits. We say, eat food like eat natural medicine.

In this post I will be talking about:

  1. 2 types of herbs that we use in Thai cuisine
  2. How to store herbs
  3. How to incorporate Thai herbs in to a dish

Types of herbs that we use in Thai cuisine

There are mainly 2 types that we use. First, Green leaf herbs. Second, root herbs.

The leaf herbs and their names

The name from top left, top row:

  1. Thai sweet basil. It’s very popular internationally. It’s an ingredient in Green curry that you can’t missed. Thai weet basil really make a big different in flavour. If you don’t have it, you can substitute with Italian basil but put 3 times as much because Italian basil is a lighter.
  2. Secondly, Thai Mint. It’s similar to the European mint but the leaves is a lot thinner and smaller. Although the fragrance is equally strong. We use Thai mint in salad dish called “Lab”, salad roll and we also eat it raw as a side vegetable.
  3. Holy Basil is known in Thai famous dish which is stir-fry holy basil or Pad -Kra-Pao. Its flavour is on the hot side which makes it different from the sweet basil.

Second row from bottom left:

  1. Kaffir lime leaves is another famous herb. In Thai dish we use kaffir lime leaves in big peaces to add aroma to curry dishes and we slice it very fine and thin to add as a gardish on top of many dish. Its citric aroma really add another dimension of flavour to a dish. You can substitute fresh lime leaves with the dry one. However it would work for about 30% when compare to the fresh one.
  2. Sae blade coriander is a local herb. It isn’t easy to find and it isn’t commonly use in intermational dish. In Thailand we use it a lot as a side vegetable and also add to a lot of spicy soup such as Tom-Yum wild chicken.
  3. Dill is one of my favourite herbs. It fragrance is exceptionally unique. It isn’t use in very many dish but you can’t skip it if it’s part of a dish ingredient. We use dill in many local dishes from North West of Thailand. It’s also edible raw.
  4. The last but not least. It’s everyone favourite! Coriander yay! You probably already know lots about coriander. It’s an amazing herb that really lift-up the flavour of so many dishes and it tastes amazing! I wrote a content about coriander here if you want to check it out! It’s worth writing a content about it individually. Here is the link
Thai herbs
Thai leaves herbs

The root herbs and their names

Thai herbs
Thai root herbs

Here are mainly 4 different kinds of root herbs that we use in Thai food.

  1. Ginger – again, ginger is famous worldwide. It’s used in many dishes from many different countries especially China. Thai cuisine also adopted ginger from the Chinese. We use ginger in some chinese orieanted stir-fry dish, usually with chicken.
  2. Galangal – This root is very unique and it’s use in Tom-Yum dish. It isn’t as hot as ginger. It’s rather hot and fresh. I would compare ginger and galangal to Black pepper and fresh green pepper corn. You can read the article here Galangal has 2 types. The old and the young. The old has more scent but it’s chewy. It’s only use to add flavour to a dish. Where as the young one is less fragrance but edible.
  3. Next up is Turmeric – It has very nice orange colour and in thaifood we add turmeric to curry pastes, to add flavour, colour and also it’s good for stomach. You can you both powder and fresh. There aren’t much different in Thai food.
  4. Last one is Kra-Chai – Kra-Chai is unknown internationally but it’s so popular in Thailand. The flavour is in between Galangal and lemongrass. Kra-chai is very nice to put in stir-fry dish especially with seafood and baby pepper corn combo… hmmm… I already feel the flavour. It’s my favourite combo actually. If you have a chance to visit Thailand you have got to try! I’m 99.9% sure that you will enjoy the flavour!


Now, lemongrass, sorry I totally forgot the take picture of the mightly lemongrass! Lemongrass is a step herbs. I would say it’s in between roots and leaf. It has lemony fragrance. It goes great in most of the dishes including salad and soup. In Thai cuisine we use a lot of lemongrass across all dishes.

How to store herbs

Storing herbs properly will really extend their life time. The method is simple so I will make it short.

  1. You want to clean them well and take out all of the parts that aren’t fresh or looks that it’s going to be rotten soon.
  2. Dry the herbs very well. Yes, VERY WELL. Because moisture is what causing the herbs to turn brown and goes off easily.
  3. Put the herbs in a dry container with a lit. You want to put paper towel underneath first. Don’t stack the herbs on top of each other too much, try to layer them thinly in between paper towel and layer them up.
  4. Keep the lid close and store in the fridge, preferably in the vegetable section.

    This method will help extend the life time of your herbs. You can freeze all of the root herbs. Leaf herbs isn’t as great once you freeze them but they works also.

How to incorporate Thai herbs in to a dish

I love to get creative with Thai ingredients especially herbs. I just love herbs so much. When you was working as a private chef in Europe, I try all the new European recipes and incorporating Thai herbs in to each dish to give it a touch of Thai. I was working as a Thai chef by the way. So, it was very exciting and it works out very well! That’s why I would like to share some technique and knowledge with you.

Root herbs + Lemongrass

These guys works very well with a dish that requires time to cook because they need a bit of time to infuse. For example, they goes well with baked fish and roasted chicken. Any kind of meat that needs sometime to cook is great to experiment with root herbs. One dish I want to highlight using lemongrass is Vanilla Lemongrass Ice-cream. It’s too good to describe! If you like to make ice-cream or have an ice-cream maker at home, it’s definitely worth trying.

Leaf herbs + Lemograss

Leaf herbs is suitable to put as a garnish. It’s very light and fragile therefore it doesn’t like too much heat. You want to sprinkle the herbs over a salad or add to a dish that is just about to be ready. It’s very aromatic when it’s used fresh. Try not to over cook it.

That is it guys for today! I hope you enjoy reading my content 🙂 I try my best with my English but if there is too many mistakes and gramma error, please excuse me 🙂 I hope you all have a great day!

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