What you should be eating in Thailand.
Thai food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world and while visiting the country you are encouraged to work your way through the distinctly exotic flavours and fragrances that have won the hearts of food lovers far and wide.
Placing emphasis on lightly prepared dishes, it is known to combine at least three or more dominant taste sensations in each dish, namely sweet, sour, salty, bitter or spicy. Common flavours used include garlic, coriander, lemon grass, shallots, pepper, lime leaves, shrimp and fish sauce, with the addition of freshly chopped chillies standard practice. Flavours are intricate and textures enhance appearance.
However when faced with a Thai menu, it isn’t always easy to know how to navigate your order or what the various terms mean. To help guide you to the best choice, here is a list of what you should be eating when next you’re in Thailand.
- Tom Yum Goong is a very popular hot and sour Thai soup usually served with shrimps and characterised by its fragrant spices and the generous use of herbs such as lemongrass, lime leaves, chili and shallots. The basic broth is made of stock, either vegetarian or meat based. This is a must try main course.
- Pad thai or phad thai is sometimes referred to as Thailand’s calling card to the world. A rice noodle dish that is stir-fried with eggs and tofu, and most commonly seasoned with tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp and red chili pepper, and served with lime wedges and finely ground peanuts. It may also contain vegetables such as bean sprouts and coriander.
- Moo Yang Nam Tok is a delicious Thai meat salad made with grilled pork steak that has been thinly sliced, then cooked in a sauce made with roasted rice, ground dried chilies, fish sauce, lime juice, shallots and mint leaves. Nam Tok is found throughout Thailand and is very affordable.
- Kao Phad or fried rice is typical of Thai cuisine and usually contains strips of meat, either chicken, shrimp or crab, as well as soya sauce, fish sauce, chili, onion, garlic and eggs. Vegetarians need to request just that. The dish has many regional influences and can be ordered as an accompaniment to your main meal.
- Kuay Tiew is a noodle soup and quick and easy staple of the Thai people. Ingredients are dependent on the vendor who is making it, but the noodles are served in a broth with just about any kind of meat from beef, duck, pork and chicken. You will be excused for slurping up the last bits once your chopsticks fail you.
- Som Tam is a most delicious spicy papaya salad that originates from northern Thailand. Fresh and crunchy, the main ingredients are shredded green papaya and lots of chili, with the balancing factors brought by adding sour lime, hot chili, fish sauce and palm sugar. It’s addictive, but luckily very widely available.
- Geng Kiew Wan literally means sweet green curry and is probably the Thai dish that most of us are most familiar with and have tried to make at home. Made with chicken and many kinds of fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, bell peppers and baby corn, and enriched by adding plenty of spice and coconut milk. In case you’re wondering, the dish gets it colour from the green curry paste, much of it’s flavor too.
We encourage you to make food a focus of your visit, whether you opt to enjoy it from a restaurant, street market or food stall. Food is a quintessential part of the Thai experience and you’ll want to indulge all you can. Perhaps even consider a Thai Cooking Class while there.