Best Thai food to prepare for an event

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.

How To Eat Healthy Thai Food

If you’re concerned about your health, any venture into a new type of Thai food cuisine will make you curious whether the food in question is really good for you. Fortunately, Thai food in its original form has a clear focus on using healthy ingredients that do the body good. My buddy Steve who moved to Florida, loves the Thai options he has there.

Thai food is all about balance – balance in taste, balance in smell, balance in appearance, but also a balance in your body. Thai cuisine is notably absent of many infamous Western practices that produce unhealthy food, but can still be bad for you depending on how it’s prepared.

Knowing what makes Thai food unhealthy

You’d be hard-pressed to find Eastern cuisine whose trademark dishes are unhealthy. Often absent of heavy meat and processed additives, eating Eastern and especially Thai food should be a good way to stay healthy.

Problems arise, however, when people try to make ‘fast’ Thai food. Like with any food, fast food will be prepared in a fraction of the time, will use less fresh and pricey ingredients, and will be geared predominantly towards tasting well(or even being addictive) rather than being nutritious and beneficial.

As such, some vendors of Thai food might throw out a lot of the important ingredients and replace them with unhealthy versions in order to reduce costs and increase the food’s appeal to the masses. Contrary to what a proper Thai chef would do, these cooks might add bread crumbs, processed spices, sugar, too much salt and so on.

Like with any fast food or food of a lesser quality, the end result might taste well, but won’t do much for your health. Almost as bad, it will be a distortion of what real Thai food is meant to taste like – similar to eating fishsticks, you’ll be getting a fraction of what the real deal would offer.

Making the healthy Thai food choice

There’s no doubt about it – the only way to ensure you’re eating healthy Thai food is preparing it yourself. Only when you make the dishes on your own can you truly know every ingredient that goes out. There’s no substitute for making your own food – you can use the best-quality ingredients and avoid any processed additions. Unlike virtually any business(which is what restaurants and food joints ultimately are), you’ll prioritize your health, and can therefore avoid various ‘junky’ extras that are often added to takeout and even restaurant food.

That being said, you can still find Thai restaurants and food vendors making healthy food with a bit of looking around. It’s not going to be easy, and it takes quite a bit of practice until you are able to look at two healthy dishes and know which one was prepared with health in mind.

For best reference, try to replicate every Thai dish you commonly eat and see how differently they taste. If the ‘taken out’ version tastes conspicuously better for no clear reason and leaves you with a feeling of wanting more, there’s a good chance it has additives that aren’t good for you. Of course, you can also inquire about the cooking process in any given restaurant, but the only way to know for sure is to make a replica of the dish using ingredients adhering to the highest standards.

How to cook Thai food

To Westerners, cooking Thai food can seem a bit intimidating at first. Whereas some cuisines focus on making things simple and sticking to the basics, Thai cuisine goes the opposite way: every Thai chef will delight in making any given dish as complex and multi-faceted as possible while keeping it pleasant to the palate.

Because of this, first attempts at cooking Thai food can end in disaster. Aspiring cooks will often add too many spices, too much salt, an overabundance of ingredients and so forth, resulting in dishes that are best served to the family dog. Still, if you persist and don’t get discouraged, you’ll eventually gain a new skill and will impress friends and family with your knowledge of how to make exotic dishes they’ve never seen before.

Getting through the bumpy beginnings

The first mistake most cooks new to Thai cuisine make is trying to do too much, too soon. Yes, Thai cuisine is all about many tastes bunched together in one attractive dish, but that doesn’t mean every dish has to come out looking like a piece of art.

It’s always better to make a simple rice-and-spice combo with some fish than to combine spices and ‘wilder’ types of food you’re not that familiar with. Remember: the most important part of whatever you cook will always be its edibility.

There’s also a high probability that you’ll mess up more when making Thai dishes than most others types of food. Even for Eastern food standards, Thai cuisine has an amazing amount of diversity and ingredients that are unfamiliar to Western cooks. Every time you overcook or serve something that hardly tastes like food, remember that your efforts will pay off in the end.

The visual aspect is still important

No Thai chef is going to make a dish that doesn’t look good. In fact, a good part of being a master Thai chef is knowing how to make dishes that both look and taste good.

A good practice is to first learn how to make a dish taste well and then look to improve its appearance with each subsequent serving. Following this simple one-two will ensure that every Thai dish you make eventually ends up being a complete experience.

To help yourself out in this regard, try to limit the amount of dishes you initially prepare to only a couple. Pick out a few dishes and make a rule: only when you can make each of them tasty and visually-appealing will you expand the menu.

Keep in mind: you have everything you need

You don’t need dozens of fancy plates in various sizes to serve Thai food, nor do you need expensive and highly-specific appliances to prepare it(contrary to what commercials might have you believe).

A working stove will serve you just fine when you start, and will let you cook multiple dishes that can look as if they were made in Thailand itself. After all, the carts of street food vendors in Bangkok are probably far less equipped than your kitchen and the vendors serve food in simple plastic plates, yet you won’t hear their customers complaining.