Garlic and Onion allergies in Thailand

Old Oct 11th, 2022, 10:11 AM
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Garlic and Onion allergies in Thailand

Hi all,
Would love thoughts on traveling to Thailand with garlic/onion allergies. I am bringing a group of women to Thailand in February and one of them has a severe allergy to both garlic and any kind of onions. I have brought women before with allergies to common Thai ingredients (fish sauce/soy/seafood) but never these. I realize they are highly prevalent in many dishes, but are there enough dishes made without them that she could feel comfortable? I usually have people with allergies bring a laminated card that explains what they can't eat and that has worked so far, but would rather be safe than sorry. Can dishes be made without them? Are most meats pre-marinated in sauces before cooking like in many US restaurants?
Thanks in advance!
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 10:20 AM
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OMG - I hate it when people come to stay and proudly announce they have some special dietary needs - at least yours have told you before hand (they're not Californians, are they?)

Re -eating out - You can see meats etc before they're cooked in most places and marinades are not the rule.
However you need to learn the Thai for garlic and Onion and do the laminated card this - I can't imagine how they will avoid these 2 ingredients in stocks etc. Are onions etc in stock still a threat? In a wok you can see what good in.
Onion is "HwawHaawm" Garlic is "khratiem".
During the festival of "Kin Jeh" in October, apart from being ;largely vegan, the eating of strong flavours is noy meant to happen - so garlic and onion strictly speaking should not be used.

Look out for the "Jeh" (เจ) sign - it's based on Jain cuisine for India.

but you'll need the laminated sign.

Last edited by khunwilko; Oct 11th, 2022 at 10:24 AM.
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 11:33 AM
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Include scallions, green onions, chives, Chinese chives, and shallots in your list. A bilingual Thai chef may be needed for variant names not in civilian usage.
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by AJPeabody View Post
Include scallions, green onions, chives, Chinese chives, and shallots in your list. A bilingual Thai chef may be needed for variant names not in civilian usage.
you've missed out leeks. Although I'm sure these people know which plants they are allergic too
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 11:30 PM
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Hi Emily , I don't envy you your task or the responsibility! My wife and I spent a week at a cooking school in Chiang Mai and I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of dishes will include those ingredients in one for or another. It is not just the list of actual ingredients used that is the issue. When one of those ingredients is say some form of curry paste, Red, Green, yellow, Massaman etc. they too will be made using significant quantities of those ingredients.

Asking the chef or showing a card is unlikely to yield reliable responses, mot Thais will just tell you what that think you want to hear! Indeed , I speak Thai to a reasonable level and would expect to get much more reliable responses asking direct.

To answer the question are meats marinaded? No, Thai is very much based (usually) on freshly prepared ingredients. I suppose your friend could just eat grilled meats and fish from street stall and ask them to hold the sauce or stick to McD and KFC (hold the onions!) but the would not be a whole lot of fun. Alternatively, high end hotel restaurants may be ok.

It maybe worth double checking how "severe" this allergy actually is. These days some people do tend to exaggerate their allergies. it could be that the alliums referred to just cause extra gas? In which case it could be a bigger problem for those around rather than the person themselves!
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 12:10 AM
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High end restaurants would be one of my main worries ... getting the message from waiter to kitchen to chef and back to table is just too much of a chain IMO.
Street food - you can see what they are doing.
You also need to find out if these people are really allergic and precisely what to, or do they have an intolerance. If they are severely allergic, they will need full medical insurance and hospitals in Thailand however flashy they look, may not have he expertise to deal with a serious case of allergic reaction.
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 09:34 AM
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"High end restaurants would be one of my main worries ... getting the message from waiter to kitchen to chef and back to table is just too much of a chain IMO." Perhaps we have different ideas of what constitutes a high end restaurant. A decent maitre d' at a good restaurant would be able to list the ingredients in any dish at the drop of a hat.
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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
"High end restaurants would be one of my main worries ... getting the message from waiter to kitchen to chef and back to table is just too much of a chain IMO." Perhaps we have different ideas of what constitutes a high end restaurant. A decent maitre d' at a good restaurant would be able to list the ingredients in any dish at the drop of a hat.

I used to train people to work in 5 star hotels in Thailand - and I'm well aware of te communication problems that occur. An MD might be able to list ingredients but that' no guarantee that the chef and his staff will do that - including using "contaminated pans etc.....
think restricting your stay to places only with and English-speaking MD is going to make the holiday a bit of a drag too.

Last edited by khunwilko; Oct 13th, 2022 at 04:04 AM.
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