Top Thai Dishes
Food is an integral part of exploring any new destination and the variety of delectable dishes on offer in Thailand certainly doesn’t disappoint. There are countless delights to sample and this is only a small, albeit essential, selection that you should try when you visit the Land of Smiles.
When it comes to eating in Thailand the best thing you can do dispell your reservations about street-side food, avoid the fancy restaurants and dig in to whatever you think looks delicious. The quality of the street food here is unparalleled anywhere in the world. Nearly everything is cooked at a very high heat and food poisoning, though not unheard of, is uncommon. I lived in Thailand for a year and my only experience of getting sick from food came from a tuna sandwich.
Food in Thailand will be cooked fresh in front of you, so don’t be scared about asking for something to be cooked for your taste. Beware, if you say a little hot ‘ped neet noi’ expect your dish to have quite the kick. If you ask for ‘ped mack maan’, very spicy, have the water, or beer, on hand!
Thai Green Curry
Probably the most famous and exported dish from Thailand the green curry is still one of the favourites of locals and tourists. The sweet tones come from the palm sugar and coconut milk and the dish is flavoured with green chilli, garlic and fish sauce. Most commonly served with chicken, it’s also delicious pork, beef, shrimp, and vegetables. This isn’t a common street food dish but will be served in all restaurants from high-end establishments to roadside eateries. Red and yellow variants are also available – the yellow curry is sublime with crab meat.
Som Tam (Papaya Salad)
Thailand’s most ubiquitous street food is the divine papaya salad. Made from unripened papaya, the shredded fruit it tossed with garlic, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and chilis to make for simply the most mouth-watering salad you’ll ever eat. Commonly served with sticky rice this staple of Thai cuisine is thought to have originated in Laos but is today eaten across the entire southeast Asian region.
Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum is a hot and sour soup which is traditionally served with shrimps. The fragrant broth is made from stock, chilli, lime leaves and fish sauce before the shrimps are added at the last moment to simmer. The shrimps can be substituted for chicken or pork and some versions will add coconut milk to give the dish a creamier texture and taste.
This stir-fried noodle dish is found across Thailand and is actually more popular among tourists than locals. The dried rice noodles and fried at a high heat with tofu, egg, fish sauce, garlic, chilli and palm sugar and a meat, fish or vegetable of your choice. Commonly served with a lime wedge, chilli flakes, bean sprouts and other vegetables – you can add these as you wish to suit your personal palate.
Kao Pad Gai (Chicken Fried Rice)
This sweet, succulent dish is a popular street food dish and can be found in Thailand. Chicken fried rice is cooked with fish sauce, chilli, lime and sugar to give it a rich, multi layered flavour quite unlike any other version of this common Asian dish.
The translation of this dish is ‘waterfall’ and it is thought the dish originates from neighbouring Laos. The meat salad made, most commonly made with strips of grilled beef, is packed with flavour from the chilli, shallots, mint, and garlic. The nutty rice powder adds a wonderful texture and retains the dressing for extra flavour. If you’re in central Thailand Nam Tok can mean blood soup so be sure to ask for the salad version if you don’t want a surprise.
Kai Med Ma Muang (Cashew Chicken)
Despite originating in China, cashew chicken is now a mealtime favourite of both locals and farang (non-Thai people). The chicken is often pre-cooked in flour which helps the meat soak up the delicious flavours from the dried chilli, onions and soy sauce. The cashews give the dish an excellent robust facet which makes it a truly unique dish.
Unlike many Thai curries, Massaman is a relatively mild dish which takes its influence Middle Eastern cuisine and is predominantly eaten by Thai-Muslims. Massaman is most commonly found in the south of Thailand where the majority of the Muslim population lives. The dish uses an array of spices which aren’t commonly found in Thai cuisine such as cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. The combination of these fragrant spices with the local chilli and lemongrass is simply divine and the perfect choice for those prefer something a little less spicy.
Khao Neow Moo Ping (Grilled Pork)
These grilled pork skewers are the ultimate street food as you can eat them easily with your hands when you’re busy taking in the majestic sites of Bangkok. Coated in a sticky marinade these grilled pork skewers might be simple but they certainly don’t lack in flavour or enjoyment when eaten.
Made from minced pork, larb moo is a kind of meat-intensive Thai salad. It’s a staple of the Issan Province, located in the north-east of Thailand but is readily available all across the country. The minced pork is mixed with a range of spices like chilli, lime and fish sauce and served with a generous helping of sticky rick.