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The best Southern Thai food you have to try

Cita Catellya




Southern Thai food is usually much spicier than Northern Thai food. The cuisine is heavily influenced by spices used in Malaysia and Indonesia, so expect it to be rich, bold, aromatic, and intense in flavour. Using lots of curry paste and spices, the food is mostly spicy and sour, not so much sweet. 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

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.

Delicious Southern Thai food

PHOTO: Khao Mok Gai by tysb from freepik.

2. Gaeng Som Pla

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 cutty. You can enjoy this soupy-style curry with fragrant jasmine rice any time of day, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Delicious Southern Thai food

PHOTO: Gaeng Som Pla by Takeaway from Wikimedia Commons.

3. Khua Kling

Khua Kling 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.

Delicious Southern Thai food

PHOTO: Khua Kling from iStock.

4. Khao Yam

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.

Delicious Southern Thai food

PHOTO: Khao Yam from iStock.

5. Moo Hong

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.

Delicious Southern Thai food

PHOTO: Moo Hong from iStock.

6. Gaeng Tai Pla

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.

The best Southern Thai food you have to try | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Gaeng Tai Pla by Xufanc from Wikimedia Commons.

7. Goong Pad Makham

Goong Pad Makham is 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.

The best Southern Thai food you have to try | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Goong Pad Makham from Hot Thai Kitchen.

8. Gaeng Sataw

Many foreigners shy away from this dish 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!

Unique and bizarre Thai food only for the brave

PHOTO: Gaeng Sataw from lifeforstock from freepik.

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 is a journalist and content writer who covers a range of topics from medical and property to leisure and tourism. Her career began as a copywriter, where she worked with several brands in Indonesia to help them increase their online presence.

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