Mouthwatering, phenomenal cuisine can be easily found in Southeast Asia, but there is a reason why Thailand is known across the world for its delicacies. From the metropolitan hustle of Bangkok to the sun-soaked islands and beaches, the freshness of the dishes will keep you hungry all through the day. Whether you are a lover of roadside food or a seeker of fabulous dinners, Thailand offers you all you need.
Here’s a list of the various flavors the Land of Smile has to offer.
1.Guey Teow (Noodle Soup)
Guey teow is one of the most popular Thai dishes and is a kind of noodle soup. It can be made with chicken, pork or beef and can also be made with rice noodles or egg noodles. This soup is rarely vegetarian friendly and the vendors also add wontons or meatballs to it. The dish is best topped with a mixture of dried chili peppers, lime juice, fish sauce and a little bit of sugar. It can be eaten at any time of the day but it is particularly best consumed as a night-time snack.
No Thai food is generally complete without the famous Pad Thai. It is readily available in almost every street food cart and most of these carts offer a tastier Pad Thai than the restaurants. This consists of thick noodles served with a variety of toppings like shrimps or chicken, bean-sprouts, egg an tofu, stir-fried together with love. If you are just starting out our Thai cuisine exploration, this Thai national dish is your go-to food. Pad thai is a fried noodle dish usually made with shrimp or chicken, a vegetarian version of this dish is also available in the market and can be found on every street and every corner.
3.Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
This bowl of goodness is extremely aromatic and typical Thai elements like chili, lemongrass, kaffier lime leaves, shallots, galangal, lime juice and plenty of fish sauce. Fresh prawns and mushrooms are added as a topping and to make it creamier you can add coconut cream.
4.Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
One of the most popular dishes is Thailand, Som tam comes in a variety of styles, however, the classic Som tam consists of shredded green papaya, carrots, tomatoes, peanuts, dried shrimps, palm sugar, beans, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, lime juice, fish sauce and of course, plenty of chilis! The ingredients are mixed together using a mortar and pestle and the variety of items are sure to send your taste buds on a roller-coaster ride.
5.Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
Tom kha gai can be said to be a relative of Tom yum goong and has a lower spice level than it so the people with a lower spice tolerance level can enjoy the wonderfulness of the beautiful flavors. Other than its spice level, its uniqueness is that it comes with a lot of creamy coconut milk creating a tastier than ever sweet soup. Vegetarians can easily taste this by substituting a few ingredients.
6.Pad Krapow Moo Sap (Fried Basil and Pork)
A stir-fry pork or chicken dish cooked with lots of basil, garlic and chilis served with a bowl of steaming hot white rice is both cheap and delicious. It is often topped with an egg and can be considered the best hangover meal. Also, don’t forget that you are in Thailand, and it can be made as spicy as you want!
7.Larb (Spicy Salad)
Larb comes in a variety of styles including chicken, pork and mushrooms and is a north-eastern style salad which has mint. It originates in the north-eastern province of Isan and is absolutely not recommended for people who cannot handle spice (it comes with a hefty kick).
8.Yam Pla Dook Foo (Fried Catfish with Green Mango Salad)
This fluffy and crispy catfish salad is best enjoyed with a group of friends as a beer snack. The secret of this dish is the pairing of the spicy salad with a sweet, sour and spicy green mango salad. (Is your mouth watering too, or is it just me?)
9.Pad Phuk Tong (Stir-fried Pumpkin)
We have rarely liked pumpkin but this stir-fried pumpkin is one of the best vegetarian friendly dishes and it is more difficult to find it than a dish of Pad Thai. You should definitely look out for this dish and order it with a dish of brown rice.
10. Pad See Eiw (Thick Noodle Dish)
This dish consists of thick rice noodles stir fried in thick soy sauce, tossed with chicken, pork or shrimp and even Chinese broccoli or cabbage. For people who want to increase their range from Pad thai, this dish is always a safe choice. If you want to make it spicier, just ad dried chili flakes or vinegar or both!
11. Yam Talay (Spicy Sea Food Salad)
This mixed seafood salad is not only delicious but is also a healthy meal option. Depending on where you are, this salad can have any combination of squid, shrimp, mussels, scallops or crabmeat in it. Added to the seafood medley are tomatoes, onions and rice glass noodles for good measure.
12. Pak Boong (Morning Glory)
This dish is known for being extremely healthy. This spinach like vegetable is fried and topped with soybean paste, soy sauce, garlic, chilis and more. Morning glory is a grand combination of tastes – spicy, salty, crunchy and sour – all at the same time satisfying the taste buds of everyone tasting this. The vegetarian version can also be easily prepared though this dish is often made with oyster sauce.
13. Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
The simple translation of Khao pad is ‘fried rice’. This is a Thai go-to food which is consumed by masses and is prepared with some egg and onion. The dish is usually served with sliced cucumbers and can be served with condiments of your choice.
14. Panang (Thai Curry)
Panang is in the ‘safe zone’ for people who do not like spicy food and is a bit milder than the other curries available in Thailand. Panang is generally served with shrimp but vegetarian options are available too.
15. Gaeng Keow Wan (Green Curry)
Gaeng Keow Wan is the spiciest curry originating from central Thailand, with a perfect balance of sweet from the coconut milk. Green curry is made from some of the best ingredients, including green chilis, ginger, eggplant and of course plenty of coconut milk! You can always eat it with steamed rice to bring down the spice level.
16. Khao Soi (Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)
Khao soi is a Burmese-inspired coconut curry noodle soup and is the quintessential northern Thai dish. It is available is both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options (chicken, beef or pork) and has a mouthwatering rich coconut curry base, boiled egg noodles and is decorated with deep-fried crispy noodles, pickled mustard, shallots, lime and ground chilis fried in oil. Khao soi must be on every traveler’s ‘must-eat’ list.
17. Gai Tod (Fried Chicken)
Fried chicken may not be an essentially Thai dish, but it is extremely popular in Thailand. It is prepared by marinating chicken wings or drumsticks in numerous spices and rice flour before deep frying the whole mixture. The chicken is also sometimes served with a spicy sauce called ‘nam jim’ to add extra flavor. Gai tod is best eaten with sticky rice and is the perfect on-the-go snack.
18. Kai Med Ma Muang ( Chicken with Cashew Nuts)
This Thai delicacy is loved equally by locals and tourists alike. The sweet dish is comprised of stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts, honey, soy sauce, chilis, onions, pepper, mushrooms and any other vegetable the chef has on hand. The preparation is no doubt simple but very tasty.
19. Pad Phak (Fried Vegetables)
This classic Thai vegetarian dish will please both the vegetarians and carnivores. As we have seen, most Thai dishes is always a combination of all the vegetables available in the market stir-fried together and this dish is no exception. The noteworthy thing about this dish is that it is a harmonious blend of sugar, salt, spices and everything good.
20. Kai Jeow (Thai Omlette)
A great protein-rich quick meal on the go or a side dish, Kai jeow is one of the simplest Thai Dishes. It is usually served on rice and with sweet chili sauce. If you would like some vegetables added to it, ask for ‘Kai Jeow Pak’ and that wouldbe a great way to start your day.
21. Kao Niew Ma Muang (Mango and Sticky Rice)
The all time crowd pleaser – mango and sticky rice – is the best dessert available in town. Kao niew ma muang is simple but extremely delicious, made with sticky rice, fresh mango slices and sweet condensed milk. You cannot resist tasting it when in Thailand.
22. Khanom Krok (Thai Coconut Pancakes)
To be honest, watching the little coconut pancakes being made is even more mesmerizing than actually tasting them. A cast iron pan covered with oil is placed over an open flame and the indentations on it are filled with batter. A few minutes later, each little cake is flipped over revealing the underside which has now become a brownish-golden web of goodness. They are warm and have a coconut flavor and can be found in almost every street food stall.
23. Thai Rolled Ice Cream
This Instagram friendly dessert was born on the streets of Thailand and is now a worldwide phenomenon. Soft, almost liquid ice-cream is rolled over a pan and then chopped using flat steel knives. When cooled down, it forms a layer of ice-cream which is then tightly coiled into rolls of deliciousness. It is super touristy and perfect for cooling yourself down on a sultry night.
24. Pandan Cake
Pandan, a plant widely spread across Southeast Asia, is famous for its floral green-hued juice which is extracted by squeezing the long narrow leaves, or by soaking them in cooking liquid to extract the flavor. Pandan cake takes away the familiarity of the well-known sponge cake and adds a distinct South-Asian flavor to it with the addition of Pandan juice. When added to the pound cake, it not only adds a shocking color, but also gives it an unforgettable aroma.
While there are plenty of dishes available for you to try out in Thailand, you should also resist yourself from trying out almost everything available in the market. If you are allergic to seafood, do not forget to ask the vendors what condiments they are putting in your food as almost every non-vegetarian meal has some seafood in it. Some things you should stay away from are:
1. Luu Moo (the base of this soup-like dish is raw pig blood)
2. Larb Leuat Neua (the minced meat is basically raw beef mixed with uncooked blood)
3.Yum Khai Maeng Da (a salad made from horseshoe crab which has connections to spiders and scorpions)
4. Scorpion (Thailand offers many crawly, creepy creatures to eat, but if you really can’t resist yourself, make sure the sting, located at the tip of the tail is properly removed as it is highly dangerous if ingested)
5. Decorative garnishes ( there are high chances that these garnishes have moved from plate to plate before ending up on your plate; they may be good for your Instagram, but they are definitely harmful for your health)
Thailand has lots to offer to the tourists – adventures, food, mesmerizing beaches, serenity, nightclubs and lots more. If you are yet to visit Thailand, my opinion would be – start saving and plan the trip because you are definitely missing out on a totally different version of life!