Glutinous Rice Steamer Basket (“ri ku phi miphi” หวดไม้ไผ่):
These traditional glutinous rice steamers were essential tools in Thai kitchens (especially in north and north-east Thailand) for steaming glutinous rice (known as “khawniao” ข้าวเหนียว in Thai) which were consumed almost daily. The steamed glutinous rice would be formed into chunks using hands which would be dipped in curries and sauces and eaten. This traditional utensil tends to be more common in rural Thailand as city kitchens opt for modern equipment which are generally easier to maintain. However, for those seeking the most authentic Thai glutinous rice flavor, this eco-friendly, 100% natural bamboo steamer is probably a better option.
Pre-soaked glutinous rice would be placed in the basket and then the rice would be covered with 100% cotton cheesecloth. Next, the basket would be set over a pot of water (ensuring the basket does not touch the water) which is brought to a boil. As the water boils, the steam rises, which in turn steams the rice encased within the bamboo basket.
These traditional glutinous rice steamer baskets are made of 100% natural, environmentally-friendly bamboo reeds painstakingly woven by hand by skilled Thai artisans who are mostly located in rural areas in Thailand.
Thai dishes such as “jim jum” จิ้มจุ่ม traditionally cooked in clay pots over a charcoal fire, and this combination of clay and charcoal adds a flavor and aroma that metal vessels and electric cookers or gas stoves cannot replicate.
Although glazed clay pots are available, Thai clay pots were traditionally unglazed. These unglazed clay pots are 100% natural and therefore healthy and environmentally friendly. Clay pot production is a cottage industry and pots are works of art painstakingly crafted by skilled artisans in Thailand. Although modern Thai kitchens feature cooking vessels of materials such as aluminum and stainless steel, it is generally accepted that clay pots produce considerably more flavorful and nutritious food than these modern cooking utensils.
Clay pots are first seasoned before use by soaking the pot in water for a few hours.
Skillet (“khrathah leklohg” กระทะเหล็กหล่อ):
Although it is available in a wide variety of materials nowadays such as aluminum, stainless steel and the increasingly popular carbon steel, traditionally, Thai cooks used cast-iron woks or skillets.
Coconut Shell Spoon:
For generations, coconut played a vital role in Thai cuisine (particularly in south Thailand) and empty coconut shells were also put to good use for instance by crafting coconut shell spoons. These come in a variety of sizes, are made with 100% natural materials and are thereby healthy to use and eco-friendly.
Tamarind Wood Chopping Board (“khien mai makham” เขียงไม้มะขาม):
Chopping boards (“khien mai” เขียงไม้) in Thailand were traditionally made of tamarind wood (“makham” มะขาม means “tamarind” in Thai). These eco-friendly tamarind wood chopping boards are still used today.
Mortar and Pestle (“khruk sak” ครก สาก):
A traditional Thai kitchen tool, the mortar (known as “khruk” ครก in Thai) and pestle (known as “sak” สาก), has been used for generations in Thailand and even today, it is an essential tool for authentic Thai cuisine.
They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and materials which serve different purposes. For instance, natural clay (terracotta), wood or granite are the three main types of materials used to make pestle and mortars in Thailand and depending on the material, the pestle and mortar is used for different purposes; pestle and mortars made with wood (where both the pestle and mortar are crafted with wood) and clay (where the mortar is clay but the pestle is usually wood, not clay) are used for light kitchen work (such as in the preparation of salads such as Thai green papaya salad, known as “som tam” ส้มตำ) while the granite pestle and mortar is reserved for heavy duty kitchen work such as for the preparation of spice and curry pastes which require heavy pounding.
These specifically allocated functions to different types of Thai pestle and mortars are still followed upon, so for instance, curry pastes which are supposed to be prepared in a granite pestle and mortar would not be prepared in the terracotta version. Conversely, in the preparation of a Thai salad where the ingredients need to be lightly mashed, using the granite pestle and mortar to pound the ingredients would be considered inappropriate.
Although modern day food processors could be used in place of the time-consuming pestle and mortar, Thai cuisine connoisseurs generally agree that the food processor is no match to the traditional “khruk sak” in bringing out the food’s flavor while retaining its nutrition.