It seems that in every city, and perhaps even your neighborhood, there are local Thai restaurants offering up such delicious dishes as Satay, an appetizer of tender grilled chicken skewers served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad; Noodle dishes such as the well known Pad Thai which can be prepared with your choice of chicken, seafood or tofu and Boo Ja, a dish of crab cakes and pork served with a spicy sauce. While we may think of Thai food as one broad cuisine, it can include a variety of Southeast Asian dishes. In fact there are four different regions of Thailand from which there are differences in the spices used, the proteins and cooking methods, although most local Thai restaurants dont usually prepare strictly regional dishes, except of course in Thailand. All Thai food blends elements of salty, sweet, spicy and sour on the palate. In the northern region of Thailand the curry dishes will be milder than those found in northeastern and central Thailand. In the southern part of the country, the coconut is used in many recipes from the milk, the oil for cooking and the meat as a condiment. Seafood is abundant in dishes of the southern region where meat with thicker gravy like sauce is found in the northern region. And while in Central Thailand dishes tend to be milder with a propensity toward sweetness, the dishes from the northeastern region are typically spicier, the meat may be fried and the rice is stickier than in the other regions. In most local Thai restaurants youll find fresh and exotic ingredients such as Thai eggplant, smaller in size than the Western Globe varietal and green in color, it is used in many curry dishes and has a mild flavor. Lemon grass, a refreshing citrus herb, kaffir lime, a zesty varietal and tamarind, a fruit imparting a sweet and savory flavor to many dishes you'll find in local Thai restaurants. Garlic, ginger, shallots or onions, coriander and turmeric, fish sauce and fresh chilis are all staples of Thai cooking. Garnishes, sides and condiments in local Thai restaurants may include bean sprouts, cilantro, chopped peanuts and a variety of chili pastes.