Thailand is known around the world not only for it’s breath taking scenery, beautiful hosts but also for their food. Fresh and vibrant, the local food in Thailand is cheap and it is amazing. On the street or in a fancy restaurant, it’s all good.
Be brave. Buy from the side of the road like the locals do, it will be the best meal you’ve had today. There is so much to sample and taste if you are willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Just remember one term “Mai Phet”, no chill please!
Here is, in no particular order, our Top Ten Foods to Try in Thailand….
1. Khao Soi Gai (Spicy Noodle Chicken Soup)
Khao Soi Gai originates from the cooler climate of the North, in the cultural city of Chiang Mai, therefore a hot and spicy soup is just the ticket. Without a doubt my favourite dish in Thailand, even though this is in no particular order, it sits at number one for good reason. The spicy broth, with the steamed chicken and the crispy noodles on top are delicious. The dish is traditionally served with lime, shallots, pickled mustard and chilli for individual taste and flavour.
Buyer or should I say taster beware! Durian is the most popular fruit not only in Thailand but all over South East Asia, and beyond. It can grow up to 30cms long and 15cms wide and comes in a varierty of shapes and sizes, but I am dancing around the point: Durian has the most unpleasant (this is super polite) smell I think I have ever smelt. It is overpowering and has the stench of dirty socks which doesn’t do it much favours and it’s banned on most flights around Asia due to its pungency. The actual flavour of durian is quite pleasant and sweet if you can get past the smell as it approaches your mouth. Give it a go, be brave!
3. Phuket Lobster
Ironically Phuket lobster is more expensive than the Canadian lobster that has traveled half way across the world. If you can get past this fact then you must try the Phuket lobster because they’re sweet and fresh, juicy and worth the extra baht. One of our favourite places to try Phuket lobster is Kata Rocks, an ultra luxury resort in the South.
4. Chai Yen (Thai Ice Tea)
You can’t travel to the land of smiles without trying Chai Yen, the local ice tea. I have two boys and if they had the chance, and I allowed it, they would drink this sweet tea daily. The secret ingredient that makes Chai Yen worthy of making this list is the fact it is sweetened by condensed milk which makes it thick and syrupy. Not recommended for a low calorie diet.
5. Fresh Coconut on the beach
We are so lucky here on the island of Phuket to have access to fresh coconuts. Lots of them. Coconuts not only feature in many local Thai dishes but they also have numerous health benefits according to some health practitioners. Whether you are drinking yours from Makro or on the side of the street you are doing your body a huge favour. Click HERE to see The Thaiger’s Top Ten benefits of drinking coconut water….
6. Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Green Chicken Curry)
Laced with Thai super stars of food – coconut, palm sugar, kaffir lime, fish sauce and green curry paste, the chicken curry served with steamed rice is mouth watering and stomach filling (and sometimes spicy unless you ask for “mai phet”. Super easy to also make at home, but steer away from “non Thai” versions. I can’t say it for sure but I’m pretty sure Jamie Oliver’s green chicken curry recipe isn’t going to be authentic!
7. Miang Khum (Thai Snack)
I was first introduced to this snack more than a decade ago, you don’t see it very often in “touristy” areas as it is a very traditional snack dating back to the court of King Rama V. It literally means “one bite wrap” whereby you grab a beetle nut leaf and place in it whatever takes your fancy from the plate, ginger, shallots, peanuts, chili, dried shrimp and lime. The beetle nut leaf itself is quite bitter so adding in all the flavours is a palate filling experience.
8. Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
Locals eat this dish every day, it is fresh and crisp and once again full of the flavours of Thailand. With shredded unripe green papaya, snake beans, tomatos, garlic, peanuts and dried shrimp it is quick and easy to make and often eaten on the side of the road. Once again be brave and buy from the local lady on the corner of the street making her living from Som Tum. But, again, it can be spicy so plead for a slightly less spicy version if Thai spices are too hot for you.
9. Goong Sarong (Prawns wrapped in deep fried noodles)
Typically I’m not a fan of prawns but when these little puppies are wrapped up in noodles, deep fried then served with sweet chillie sauce, I must indulge. Served traditional as an appetiser along with table top friends chicken satay and spring rolls, be careful not to have too much as you will spoil your dinner. Thanks Mum!
10. Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup)
The go to dish for me when I can’t decide what to order, the soup has all the flavours of Thailand – hot, sour, sweet and with the addition of fresh coconut milk makes the perfect balanced dish. Kaffir lime, lemongrass and galangal also add aroma and Asian flavours to finish off this beautiful soup.
- Donna Toon