Because so many Thai food dishes feature a lot of specific ingredients and rare spices (some of which aren’t the easiest to get), Thai food is rarely the first choice for a primary course when serving a large group of people.
Still, if you’re catering an event or hosting a party and want to introduce your Western friends and acquaintances to a menu they haven’t seen or tasted before, don’t be afraid to give Thai food a shot. You’ll have to be selective, though – unless you’re working with a team of experienced cooks, serving spiced-up Pad Thai is probably going to be off-limits.
How to feed a group of people with Thai food
You probably saw this one coming: rice is going to be your best friend when serving food at a party or event. It’s inexpensive, provides a great feeling of fullness, and many Thai dishes are based around it. Getting a large amount of rice is easy – the problem is what to serve with it.
Grilled rice with some type of seafood is commonly served in Thai restaurants. Depending on the seafood in question, it can either be inexpensive or costly. For example, while lots of grilled rice-based dishes involve shrimp, getting enough shrimp to produce complete meals for dozens of people is beyond the means of many. Instead, turn to bass as an affordable and healthy option to go along with that spicy rice.
Noodle soup is yet another easy-to-make and cheap dish that can be served in large quantities. Rice is often added to make the stomach even fuller, as are various spices based on the preferences of your guests (or your own). In general, noodle soup is either served with prawns or chicken – the latter will probably come as the cheaper option, depending on how much meat is involved. Prawns are a bit larger than shrimp, but are still scarce enough to require a larger budget if you aim to feed many people.
Some things to keep in mind
When serving many people, especially at a wedding, one can easily forget that Thai food is meant to arrive in a specific sequence. Even Thai restaurants will sometimes mix up the serving order – while every dish will be just as delicious, you won’t get that complementary feeling with each additional dish.
To best serve a large group of people, you might want to split everyone up in smaller groups and assign a specific menu for each group. This will let you keep track of what everyone should be eating and will help you avoid serving appetizers after the main course.
Depending on the size of the group you’re serving, you should also give some thought to food intolerances or allergies. With groups of smaller or moderate size, you might be able to ask each individual about no-go ingredients before preparing the food. For larger groups, however, you’ll have to contend with putting the full recipe on display next to each dish so that every person can examine the makeup of a particular dish and avoid it if necessary.