The best Southern Thai food you have to try

PHOTO: Southern Thai food by jcomp from freepik.

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 9 popular Southern Thai dishes that you absolutely have to try!

1. Khao Mok Gai (ข้าวหมกไก่)

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 (แกงส้มปลา)

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.

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

3. Khua Kling (คั่วกลิ้ง)

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.

The best Southern Thai food you have to try | News by Thaiger
Photo: Khua Kling from freepik

4. Khao Yam (ข้าวยำ)

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 (น้ำบูดู).

Delicious Southern Thai food
PHOTO: Khao Yam from iStock.

5. Moo Hong (หมูฮ้อง)

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 (แกงไตปลา)

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 (กุ้งผัดมะขาม)

Craving that perfect combination of sweet and sour? You won’t be able to resist the mouthwatering taste of Goong Pad Makam (known as Tamarind Shrimp in English), a Southern Thai dish that brings together succulent prawns and a tangy tamarind sauce for an unforgettable culinary treat! Fried with dried chillies, garlic, and ginger, the prawns are then smothered in a scrumptious sweet tamarind sauce that perfectly balances the flavours. Goong Pad Makham is a must-try!

Tamarind Shrimp, Goong Pad Makham
PHOTO: Goong Pad Makham from hadkhanong from freepik.

8. Pad Sataw Goong (ผัดสะตอกุ้ง)

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 Pad Sataw Goong, 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 Pad Sataw Goong is!

Unique and bizarre Thai food only for the brave
PHOTO: Gaeng Sataw from lifeforstock from freepik.

9) Bai Lieng Pad Kai (ใบเหลียงผัดไข่)

Bai Lieng Pad Kai is a delicious local Southern Thai dish, crafted from the young leaves of the Melinjo tree, which is native to the region. The “Lieng” leaves are stir-fried to perfection with egg and garlic, then masterfully seasoned with oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar to create an irresistible blend of flavours. Contrasting from the other spicy dishes in Southern Thai cuisine, Bai Lieng Pad Kai boasts a truly unique taste that is both sweet and greasy.

The best Southern Thai food you have to try | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Bai Lieng Pad Kai from silverlily from flickr.

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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