Thai Food: Top Must-Eat Dishes in Thailand
Your trip to Thailand will not be complete without a taste of its world-renowned cuisine and dishes.
Aside from being aromatic and healthy, Thai food is also a unique blend of varying flavors and textures as it mixes around the 5 essential flavors: salty, sour, spicy, bitter, and sweet! Given that one of the first things Thais ask each other when they meet up is "Have you eaten yet?" it's clear this is a nation that's extremely passionate about its eats.
You want to know how good a Thai restaurant is? Don't look at the menu, the decor or even the prices. Look at the number of people inside. That's your quality indicator. We've also put together a list of Top Restaurants In Phuket for you.
Thai cuisine has a reputation all over the world for being the most delicious and flavorful meal that you will ever have. Though the variety is immense, here is a look at some of the top traditional foods you must never leave Thailand without tasting.
- Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
- Pad Thai (Stir-Fried Noodles)
- Som tum (spicy green papaya salad)
- Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)
- Khao Phat or Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
- Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
- Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)
- Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai green curry with chicken)
- Khao Soi (noodle soup)
- Yum nua (spicy beef salad)
- Kai pad med ma muang (stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts)
- Yam Plah Duk Foo (Fluffy Catfish Salad)
- Kao Moo Dang (Red Pork with Rice)
Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
Tom Yum is a spicy Thai Soup with shrimp, and it is one of the most famous traditional foods in the country. It is typically made with mushroom, tomatoes, garlic, fish sauce, cilantro, onions, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass together with a lot of lime juice. Due to the composition of the ingredients, it is sour and spicy, but lovely to the taste buds. In a traditional setup, the soup may feature meats such as fish, beef, pork or chicken, and it is generally served in a large clay bowl or an aluminum pot with a charcoal burner.
Pad Thai (Stir-Fried Noodles)
If there is one traditional Thai food known across the globe, then it must be Pad Thai. It is a stirfried rice noodle cooked in a very hot wok with chili, garlic, tofu and eggs amongst other ingredients. Some of the popular meats you are likely to encounter in Pad Thai include shrimp and chicken, and don’t be surprised if you find it garnished with lime juice, peanuts, spring onions and sprouts. It is a one hearty and comforting Thai meal you will be glad to not have missed.
Som tum (spicy green papaya salad)
Som tam is perhaps Thailand's most famous salad. Som tum, or spicy green papaya salad, comes from Thailand’s north-eastern state of Isaan. Garlic, chillies, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and shredded raw papaya are pounded using a pestle and mortar, which release a sweet-sour-spicy flavour that's quite distinctive. Regional variations include peanuts, dry shrimp or salted crab into the mix. This dish can be polarizing, as some can't get enough of its taste, while others simply can't handle the spice.
Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)
Select from the usual chicken, beef, pork, or maybe even duck, shrimp, or tofu. Your choice of meat is then cooked in delicious red curry paste and coconut milk. Afterwards, it is seasoned with garlic, shallots, chili peppers, galangal, fish sauce, and kaffir lime leaves for that complex Thai food flavor! Yum!
Khao Phat or Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
In the Thai language, ‘khao‘ means rice and ‘phat‘ relates to being stir-fried. Fried rice, or khao pad, is often enjoyed for lunch. You easily bulk up this simple dish of rice, egg and onion with your choice of ingredients, from prawns, crab or chicken to tofu, basil or leftover vegetables.
Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
This sweet and tangy soup dish is another safe bet for travelers! If you’re curious, this Thai food dish is made of chicken strips, chili, galangal, lemongrass, shallots, and lime that are cooked in coconut milk for a tasty meal.
Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)
Pad Kee Mao is a traditional Thai dish with ground pork, wide rice noodles and plenty of fresh basil. Doused in a sauce typical of thai cuisine which is perfectly balanced with heat, tanginess and sweetness Coming from thai chiles, rice wine vinegar and sweet soy sauce. There are several theories why this dish gained such a name but we can rely on the truth that it’s quite a good dish to eat when drinking alcohol!
Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai green curry with chicken)
The Thai green curry with chicken is another incredibly popular dish in Thailand and one you should try if you want to understand more about the roots of Thai foods. This curry comprises of coconut milk, green curry paste, and chicken as the main ingredients, though you could always replace the chicken with any meat of your choice. The green curry paste comes from a blend of shallots, garlic, and green chilies amongst other ingredients. The coconut milk is where the soup gets the rich, creamy consistency, while the green curry paste makes it hot and sweet. It is best enjoyed with a plate of rice.
Khao Soi (noodle soup)
Khao soi is another famous traditional noodle dish that delightfully originates from the northern parts of the country. It is primarily a broth of soup that boasts of rich ingredients comprising of curry and coconut milk that gives it a rich, creamy consistency. It is common to find the broth topped over flat egg noodles that have further been topped up with deep fried egg noodles. Meats such as beef and chicken are also familiar accompaniments with khao soi.
Yum nua (spicy beef salad)
Yum nua is a refreshing Thai salad topped with strips of tender beef. It uses a zesty dressing made with lime juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and palm sugar. You can enjoy yum nua on its own, but having it with rice helps cut down the sour-sweet flavor.
Kai pad med ma muang (stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts)
Kai pad med ma muang is basically stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts. This dish also contains soy sauce, honey, onions, chillies, and pepper, as well as a variety of vegetables (usually chopped bell peppers or carrots). There's dried chilli mixed in together with the chicken and cashew nuts, but it's hardly spicy. This dish is suitable for children or those who can't handle spicy foods.
Yam Plah Duk Foo (Fluffy Catfish Salad)
A one of a kind combination of catfish deep fried until all that’s left is crispy bits, sour mango, chili, peanuts, red onion, cilantro and Thailand’s famous sweet and sour “yam” sauce. Once you try this dish you will not be able to eat it only once!
Kao Moo Dang (Red Pork with Rice)
Kao Moo Dang is another common street food that’s good for those days you want something hearty and filling, but mild in taste.The dish is comprised of sweet, thinly sliced pork, a few pieces of Thai sausage and a half a boiled egg on top of a mound of rice, which is then covered in a sweet, BBQ like gravy.
The list of traditional Thai food in Thailand is probably longer than this, but the above foods are incredibly delicious and worth trying when you visit Thailand. They are also popular to imply that you will find them in most of the eateries around the country. However, there are many more yummy meals you need to discover in Thailand, and the best way to do that is simply plan a visit to this magical land.