Thai Food Dishes You Have to Try in Thailand
On a list of foods worth flying for, Thai food would definitely land in the top three.
The popular cuisine is beloved around the world for its mix of textures and flavors. There is simply something so incredibly satisfying about taking a bite and getting hit by sweet, sour and spicy at the same time.
Here are the ten best Thai food dishes that you absolutely have to try on a trip to Thailand. (Or at a Thai restaurant near you.)
10. Som Tam (Papaya Salad)
Salads aren't usually the sexiest thing on the menu, but Thailand knows exactly how to spice things up. This fresh dish is made with grated green papayas, green beans, lime juice, tomatoes, peanuts, chilies, garlic and sometimes dried shrimp. To contrast the spice and sourness, a dash of sugar is also added.
Not only is this salad delicious in a way you didn't know salads could be, but it also refreshes you and helps you feel ready to face the tropical heat. While in Thailand (or abroad), this is a foolproof starter dish.
9. Kai Jeow (Thai Omelet)
Thai omelet, or kai jeow, is often ignored by foreigners who want to try more "exotic" things. But for locals, this is a beloved dish. You'll usually get it over rice accompanied by a chili sauce, and we recommend trying the moo sab filling, which is peppered ground pork.
To know if the omelet you ordered is authentic, it should be crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. We're not saying Western omelets aren't delicious, but this is something else.
8. Pla Kapong Neung Manao (Steamed Fish with Spicy Lime Sauce)
For reasons that we can't pretend to understand, Thai seafood dishes are often snubbed by foreigners. This is a shame, given that the country has a long coastline and numerous islands.
Thankfully, here at Far & Wide, we can rest easy knowing our readers don't just go for the obvious. So we'll let you in on the open secret and tell you to order Thai steamed fish. Usually made with the catch of the day, the fish is steamed (of course), and then garnished with garlic, cilantro and chili. A very, very generous amount of spicy lime sauce is used for added flavor.
This Thai food dish is not just healthy and fresh, but will also give you the contrasting textures and tastes that are so important to this cuisine.
7. Guay Teow (Noodle Soup)
Noodle soup is so ubiquitous in Thailand that it can be hard to describe. There are countless variations of this dish, which you are sure to find in any area and on any street in any major city.
Add chicken, beef or pork. Use egg or rice noodles. It doesn't matter as long as the base is noodles, and the broth is delicious. Typical condiments to the broth include fish sauce, lime juice and the ever-present chili peppers.
This Thai food is particularly popular as street food and is usually served at any time of day. Add wontons for an even better experience.
6. Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup)
Despite the tropical weather, Thailand loves its soups. And we loved them too.
Tom kha gai has a special place in our hearts. There's just something incredibly satisfying about the fragrant combination of coconut milk, lemongrass and lime leaves. The chicken adds proteins and texture while cilantro and chili can't be missing.
The soup is spicy enough to satisfy foreigners but not so much that you'll need a tissue the whole time you're eating. It also has a contrast of sweet and sour that is simply too good for words.
5. Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
Have you ever had bad fried rice? We didn't think so.
It's basically impossible to mess up this meal, which is probably why you will find it virtually on every corner of Thailand. Translating simply to fried rice, khao pad is appropriate for any mood and occasion. There are a million and one ways to cook it and can include your choice of meats and vegetables.
Onions, garlic, eggs and fish sauce make it to the pan more often than not, providing texture and flavor to the crispy rice. Fresh slices of lemon are normally provided, even by street vendors, so you can add an extra layer of complexity to the meal.
4. Pad Thai
Fun food fact: Thailand's most famous and popular dish isn't as old as people think. It isn't even 100 years old. But its relative youth hasn't kept it from becoming the official national dish of the country.
The dish was invented by a dictator who sought to make deep changes after overthrowing the royal family. He was eventually taken out of power, but pad Thai outgrew him and became a dish inseparable from Thai culture.
We definitely encourage you to try as many foods in Thailand as possible, but you really cannot leave without eating pad Thai at least once. Don't listen to the haters. It's absurdly delicious when eaten in its country of origin.
3. Khao Niew Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)
Many people are put off when they first hear of sticky rice topped with fresh mango doused in coconut milk. If this is you, we're sorry to say that your instincts are deceiving you.
Simply put, mango sticky rice is one of the best desserts in the entire world. Yes, that is dramatic. And, yes, we will stand by it. Again, the magic is in the contrasting flavors and textures that come together in a form of dance that is delicate yet precise.
We will not blame nor judge anyone who eats this dish three times a day while in Thailand.
2. Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
We love many Thai soups, but our heart is hopelessly devoted to tom yum. Neither Thai people nor foreigners can get enough of this soup, which is made with many of the usual suspect ingredients: lemongrass, lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce, chili, tomatoes and coconut cream. The most common variation is tom yum goong, which has a generous amount of prawns.
So what makes tom yum so special? Its spice level. This is a soup that will cure a cold and expel your demons. Each sip shoots through the body, providing a warmth that comes from deep within your heart.
Prepare to sweat a bit if you're not used to spice — and to love every minute of it.
1. Green Curry
It's almost impossible to decide on the single most delicious Thai food, especially since there really isn't any dish we don't like. No, really, we're not just saying that. But if fate were to cruelly force us to pick one Thai dish to eat, it would be green curry.
There are three types of Thai curries: red, yellow and green. They are all made with a coconut milk base, have added vegetables and meats and are served over rice. But (contrary to what conventional logic might guess), green curry is the spiciest and tastiest.
It is made with lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro, green chilies and basil. We particularly love the chicken green curry. Yes, other dishes have the spice-sweetness-sour ratio, but few do it as well as this dish.
We could eat this every day of our lives and not get bored.