8 Southern Thai food every visitor needs to taste

PHOTO: Moo Hong via iStock

Southern Thai food is usually much spicier than Northern Thai food. Expect the food to be rich, strong, aromatic, and flavorful because Malaysian and Indonesian spices have a significant influence on the cuisine. The dish is primarily sour and hot with little to no sweetness due to the heavy use of curry paste and spices. But don’t worry, those who can’t handle spice won’t be left out since there are a few delicious dishes that aren’t spicy.

Here, we’ve compiled the 8 popular Southern Thai dishes that you absolutely have to try!

1. Khao Mok Gai

Delicious Southern Thai food
PHOTO: Khao Mok Gai by tysb from freepik.

Although Khao Mok Gai is available in many places across Thailand, it’s a staple in the southern part of the country. The brightly-coloured dish consists of yellow rice and chicken. The rice and chicken are flavoured with various dried spices and turmeric, then cooked together in the same pot. Turmeric is one of the main ingredients. It gives the dish its golden-yellow colour and aromatic spiced flavour. Sprinkled with fried shallots and served sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet-sour chilli dipping sauce, Khao Mok Gai is a must-try dish when visiting southern Thailand.

2. Khua Kling

Delicious Southern Thai food
PHOTO: Khua Kling from iStock.

The next Southern Thai food you need to try is Khua Kling, which is possibly the finest dish for any curry lover out there. Unlike many other Thai curries, Khua Kling lacks liquid coconut curry. It’s made of chilli, lemongrass, pepper, turmeric, garlic, salt, shrimp paste, and galangal. The ingredients are combined to create an extremely spicy but tasteful paste. Beef, chicken, and pork are the most common meat used for the dish. The meat is roasted with curry paste and thinly sliced kaffir leaves, absorbing a high concentration of spice. Each bite comes with a spicy kick that’ll keep you wanting for more.

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3. Gaeng Som Pla

Delicious Southern Thai food
PHOTO: Gaeng Som Pla by Takeaway from Wikimedia Commons.

Gaeng Som Pla or sour fish curry is the ultimate comfort food in southern Thailand. Also known as Gaeng Leung in Bangkok, the base of the soup is made of turmeric, salt, shallots, dried chillies, shrimp paste, and salt. These ingredients are pounded into a smooth paste and then boiled with water in a pot. Fish, prawns, pork, bamboo shoots, pineapple, and papaya are commonly used in the curry. You can enjoy this soupy-style curry with fragrant jasmine rice any time of day, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

4. Khao Yam

Delicious Southern Thai food
PHOTO: Khao Yam from iStock.

Khao Yam is an aromatic rice salad that’s popular in Southern Thailand but hard to find elsewhere. The dish consists of rice, a wide range of herbs, vegetables, dry shredded shrimp, and ground roasted coconut. Among the fragrant herbs that complete this dish are lemongrass, turmeric leaves, kaffir lime leaves, pennywort, and bird’s eye chillies. All of the ingredients are mixed together, and the salad is dressed with a fermented fish sauce known as nam budu.

5. Gaeng Tai Pla

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PHOTO: Gaeng Tai Pla by Xufanc from Wikimedia Commons.

Gaeng Tai Pla is another must-try Southern Thai curry. This thick fish soup consists of typical Southern Thai ingredients, such as galangal, dried chillies, kaffir leaves, and turmeric. Additionally, a combination of fermented shrimp paste, fish viscera, bamboo shoots, grilled fish, pumpkin, eggplant, and string beans are also used. Certain variants may also use coconut milk instead of water to make the curry extra creamy. When you buy it in a local market, the vendor usually serves it with fresh vegetables and steamed rice on a separate plate. Intensely salty and spicy, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

6. Moo Hong

8 Southern Thai food every visitor needs to taste | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Moo Hong from iStock.

The next delicious Southern Thai food you need to try is Moo Hong. This stewed pork dish consists of pork belly and a paste made from black peppercorns, coconut sugar, garlic, and coriander root. The pork belly is braised in the sweet paste, then slowly stewed in a gravy seasoned with star anise, oyster sauce, and dark soy. The result is a sweet and delicious dish perfect for lunch or dinner.

7. Gaeng Sataw

8 Southern Thai food every visitor needs to taste | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Gaeng Sataw from lifeforstock from freepik.

Many foreigners shy away from this Southern Thai food because of the main ingredients used: Sataw (stink beans). Stink beans have a funky smell due to their high concentration of amino acids. Some people even claim that it smells like methane gas. Also, it makes your urine smell pretty bad. However, if you can get past the smell, you might find that the beans are actually delicious. In Gaeng Sataw, the stink beans are stir-fried with fresh prawns, shrimp paste, and curry paste. The beans shouldn’t smell too bad when it’s cooked in the right way, using the right ingredients. You might even forget about the smell once you taste how delicious Gaeng Sataw is!

8. Goong Pad Makham

8 Southern Thai food every visitor needs to taste | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Goong Pad Makham from Hot Thai Kitchen.

The next Southern Thai food on our list is Goong Pad Makham. It’s essentially a stir-fried shrimp with tamarind sauce. Since the dish consists of ingredients that can be found in most households, such as tamarind paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar, it’s pretty easy to find it in Southern Thailand. It boasts an incredible combination of salty, sweet, and sour flavours, as well as perfectly crunchy textures. One bite in, and you’ll instantly fall in love with the dish.

So, which Southern Thai food are you most excited to try? Or are there any of your favourites that we missed on this list?

If you want to learn more about Thai food, read our article on everything you need to know about Thai food.

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Cita Catellya

Cita Catellya is a journalist and writer who covers a range of topics from medical and property to leisure and tourism. Her career began as a copywriter 5 years ago, where she worked with several brands in Indonesia to help them increase their online presence. Cita writes in both English and her native Bahasa Indonesia

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