Why is Thai garlic better than Chinese?
Much of the garlic sold in Thailand is from China. It’s cheaper and is stocked by more supermarkets than is Thai garlic, due to the price and easy availability. But, if you’re more particular about the garlic you use in your cooking, and want the best money can buy, Thai garlic is the only one you should choose
A true Thai cook will scour the neighborhood to buy Thai garlic. It’s more pungent, a much stronger taste and, for most Thai dishes, gives the correct ‘Thai’ taste.
Even for me, who thought I couldn’t tell the difference between Chinese and Thai garlic, when I’ve used both for stir-fried garlic kale, believe me, the dish simply doesn’t taste right with the Chinese version.
Samak Sundaravej, one of Thailand’s recent short-lived prime ministers, even launched a national campaign to persuade people to buy Thai garlic, as he pointed out it was “the best”. (It was actually a political move, as Thai garlic growers were threatening a strike, but he was still correct about buying it).
The best, and cheapest, place to buy Thai garlic is at the side of one of Thailand’s many roads, direct from the growers, or at one of Thailand’s thousands of markets, where it’s often piled high on tables for sale.
I buy my Thai garlic at Aw Taw Kaw, (see photograph above), a farmers’ market near my house. Because, even if slightly more expensive than the Chinese variety, Thai garlic is simply better. Plus, I’d rather support Thai growers as well as get a bigger kick to my taste buds.