Thailand’s food has gained fame across the world thanks to the abundance of healthy, freshly prepared noodle and rice dishes as well as the zingy salads and soups. With some of the lightest Asian cuisine available, there’s a dish to suit everyone. We could probably name fifty foods you should try in Thailand, from spicy curries, sticky rice to flavourful broths, but here are just five of the most mouth-watering delicacies you could ever hope to find.
The classic Thai noodle dish; Pad Thai is completely unbeatable when it comes to being simple, fast, and packed with flavour. The unique taste comes from a tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar base, giving it the tell-tale sign of Thai food; an incredible balance of sweet, sour and salty. Rice noodles are stir fried with tofu, spring onion, peanuts and shrimp or chicken for an incredible crunchy, chewy, delicious meal at any time of day. It’s best when eaten from a street food vendor, and you can feel free to indulge in it for dinner, lunch, or even a midnight snack. It’s really difficult to get the sauce exactly right, and there are a few twists on Pad Thai – some vendors might prefer a more lime-based flavour, others might ramp up the chilli, and some might be heavy on the tamarind. The only answer is, of course, to try a few from different places and find your favourite!
Thailand has more than one delicious soup on offer, but Tom Yum is the jewel in their soup crown. If you haven’t had Tom Yum soup, you’ve barely tasted Thai cuisine. It’s a clear red soup, with a distinct hot and sour taste which comes from a blend of lemongrass, crushed red chilli, galangal and lime leaves. Packed with herbs, spices, and vegetables, it’s perfect for a chilly monsoon day, for when you’re a bit under the weather or just for the incredible flavour. The most traditional version of Tom Yum soup has mushrooms and prawns. Slurp it down at a restaurant or from a street food vendor, it’s delicious.
For many rice lovers, this dish of Thai fried rice beats Chinese fried rice, hands down. Rice and meat are beaten together with egg, garlic, onions and a delicious seasoning, and can be found at most restaurants and street food stalls. The rice is sticky, slightly chewy and often spicy. It’s never bland, but you’ll often see locals squeezing over some extra lime juice or adding a splash of fish sauce for an extra-intense flavour, so feel free to follow suit. The best versions are with beef or shrimp, but locally another popular spin on the dish is Khao Phat Puu, which is fried rice with chunks of crab meat and eggs.
Gaeng Keaw Wan (green curry)
Thai green curry is perhaps the most famous of all Thai dishes and found in households around the world nowadays. The coconut-based sauce spiced with chilli, lemongrass, lime, fish sauce and palm sugar makes for an intoxicating mixture of sweet, salty and sour; it’s best with chicken or fish and served over jasmine rice.
Originating from the rural northern parts of Thailand, this popular green papaya salad or Som Tam can now be found almost everywhere in the country. It’s sweet, salty and seriously spicy. Typically, it uses crunchy unripe green papaya which has been shredded and bruised, mixed with tomatoes, peanuts, carrots, dried shrimp, runner beans, lime juice, garlic, palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind pulp as well as plenty of chillies. The locals mix it up with a mortar and pestle to help combine and bring out all the flavours. One bite of this salad and you’ll be hooked. Served alongside a bowl of sticky mango rice, this is Thai food at its moreish best.