The majority of Thai cooking is done in one piece of cooking equipment, the wok, by either of two very straightforward cooking methods, steaming or stir frying. Stir frying is a very rapid process as the ingredients are cut into small, even pieces. For successful stir frying, heat the wok before adding the oil to help prevent food from sticking, then heat the oil until it is almost smoking before adding the ingredients. Toss the food during cooking, and keep it moving from the centre of the wok to the sides. Because of its curved shape, the wok allows the food to be quickly tossed without spilling. As the food is kept moving during stir frying, very little oil is needed.
Wok: used for frying, stir frying, deep frying and steaming. A useful size to buy is about 30-35 cm in diameter across the top. Choose one that has good deep sides and some weight. Carbon steel is preferable to light stainless steel or aluminum as these tend to develop hot spots which cause sticking and do not withstand intense heat so well. Non stick woks and electrical ones do not reach sufficiently high temperatures. A frying pan could be used for frying and stir frying, a deep – fat frying pan for deep frying and a saucepan for steaming.
Wok stand: metal ring or stand to hold wok steady over the heat.
Rack: for using in a wok when steaming to support the steaming basket or container of food above the level of the water.
Steamer: Chinese style bamboo steamers are used in Thailand, but Western metal ones will do just as well.
Rice cooker: because of the amount of rice Thais eat and the number of people cooked for, many households now use an electric rice cooker. A heavy sauce pan with a tight – fitting lid will be adequate for Western needs.
Pestle and mortar: used during the preparation of the majority of savoury dishes. A small blender or a coffee grinder kept specifically for the purpose will take away the effort but will not produce quite the same results. When used for fibrous ingredients such as galangal and lemon grass, the pestle and mortar crushes the fibre rather than cuts them and so releases the flavouring juices and oils more successfully.
Spatula: a long handled spatula that is curved and shaped like a shovel for scooping and tossing food in the wok.
Knives: Thais use cleavers, but a selection of sizes of good quality sharp knives will suffice.
Almost without exceptions, Thai kitchens have a set of bamboo – handled wire baskets so theycan quickly and easily plunge noodles into boiling water for the requisite short cooking time, and then speedily lift them out; different baskets are used for different types of noodles.