Use of a variety of herbs and spices, and a balance of all the five flavors are the chief characteristics of Thai cuisine. Although the taste and aroma make them quite popular, not many of us are aware of the calories in Thai foods available in our favorite restaurants across the country. And if you are health-conscious, you already know the importance of knowing what you are eating. Before we take a look at Thai food calories, let's learn a little more about the basics of Thai cuisine.
History and Characteristics of Thai Food
Originally, Thai foods involved the use of aquatic animals, plants, and herbs as the main ingredients. Traditionally, stewing and baking were the main cooking methods. Influences from the Chinese introduced the techniques of frying, stir-frying and deep-frying, whereas, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch and French influences introduced ingredients such as chillies and coconut milk into this cuisine.
You will notice a balance of all the five flavors in Thai dishes. Spicy, salty, sweet, sour and bitter flavors are all blended harmoniously in Thai cuisine. Fish sauce is an essential ingredient and is used in almost all Thai dishes. Use of big chunks of meats is avoided and these are generally shredded and then blended with healthy herbs and spices to give that unique aroma and flavor which is typical of Thai foods. The food is often eaten with steamed rice or eaten as a single dish.
Now, that we know a little about Thai cuisine, let's have a look at the calories in Thai foods.
Tom Yum Soup or Thai Shrimp Soup
The famous spicy Thai shrimp soup available in restaurants across the country is known for its spiciness and sourness. Use of herbs such as lemon grass, shallot, tamarind and galangal gives this soup a fantastic fragrance and wonderful health benefits. The soup is cooked by adding coconut milk to thicken the stock and can be made with prawns, chicken, mushroom or a mix of seafood.
A cup of the original Thai shrimp soup will provide you with 205 gram calories, 9 gram fat, 11 gram carbohydrates and 24 gram proteins. On the other hand, the chicken soup will give you 75 calories/cup and a bowl of seafood soup (668 gram) provides 285 gram calories and 19 gram fat.
Pad Thai or Fried Noodles
This Thai food uses fresh ingredients and is a typical example of the five flavors perfectly blended together. The noodles are stir-fried and skinless chicken pieces, vegetables, eggs, shrimp and tofu are often added to it.
Although it may seem like a healthy alternative, you will be surprised to know that a serving of 790 grams of these stir-fried noodles provides you with 1382 calories, 40 grams of fat and 3160 mg of sodium. The high sodium content of this Thai dish which, is almost twice the recommended daily intake does not make this a dish a very healthy alternative. However, adding more vegetables and cutting down on the noodles can help you cut down on the calories and increase your dietary fiber intake.
Por Pia Tord or Fried Spring Rolls
One of the most popular Thai appetizers is fried spring rolls. These are crispy pastries filled with fried vegetables. It is not very spicy and is served with a sweet and sour dip. There are 267 calories in this Thai food and 7 gram fats in a serving size of 160 grams.
Panaeng or Meat in Spicy Coconut Cream
Pork, chicken or beef can be used in this popular Thai meat dish. It is usually served with warm steamed rice and has a mild spicy and sweet taste. A 320 gram serving of panaeng curry cooked with beef provides 490 calories and 18 grams fat.
Other Thai Foods
Let's have a look at the calories in a few other Thai foods. A serving of 100 gram Phad Ka Prao or stir-fried basil contains 153.36 calories. Fried rice with chicken breast and vegetables provides you with 405 calories in a 350 gram serving size. A serving size of 100 gram Sai Oua or northern sausage provides 360.20 calories, Pork Satay has 418 calories, chicken curry or Kaeng Kari Kai has 125 calories, and a serving size of 320 gram of Som Tam or Thai green papaya salad contains 200 calories and 5 gram fats.
Now, that you know a little about Thai food calories, ensure that the next time you visit your favorite Thai restaurant, you choose the right dishes for yourself and your family. Always keep in mind that the tastiest dishes are not always the one that are healthy for you. So, choose sensibly to control your calorie intake, limit your portion sizes, and if you are cooking at home, using more vegetables in the Thai dishes can ensure that your food is low on calories and fats and high on dietary fiber.
Thailand Travel Online: Tomi’s Top 10 Thai Food Dishes
Calorielab: Tasty Thai Calorie Counter
TGC Magazine: Top 10 Thai Dishes You Just Have to Eat
Steady Health: Thai food calories
Myfitnesspal: Food Search
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