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.
Top 10 tips to avoid food poisoning in Thailand, and cures (2019)
NOTICE: The Thaiger are experienced travellers but we’re not doctors. This information is provided as a general guideline if you are confronted with food poisoning. In all cases consider seeking medical attention.
Travelling in foreign locations and trying out the local dishes will always risk a bout of the dreaded food poisoning – Bali belly, Thailand tummy.
Thailand has some of the world’s tastiest food but also the potential to put you flat on your back for a few days.
Travelling around Thailand you face a double whammy of exotic new spices along with an equally exotic list of new microbes and bacteria working hard to make your day a bad one. One bit of bad luck and you’ll disrupt the delicate balance found within your digestive system.
Contaminated water? Spoiled meat? Food left out in the open for too long? Whilst the vast majority of Thai food, even the street food, is unlikely to upset your digestive system, the more adventurous your eating, the more likely you are to confront a bout of food poisoning along your journey.
It will start with stomach cramps, nausea and sweating. It will usually kick in in the first four hours after your meal, probably earlier. You’ll know it!
Projectile vomiting and diarrhea are usually the result and the next 10-12 hours of your life will be spent in close proximity to a toilet. You will feel like death-warmed-up – chills, cramps, maybe a fever and lots of sweating. But you WILL get over it.
Here is The Thaiger’s Top Ten tips to avoid, and recover from, a bout of food poisoning.
Don’t get food poisoning! The best way to recover from food poisoning or its lesser partner, traveller’s diarrhea, is to not get it in the first place. But even the most cautious tourist can consume something they think is safe…but isn’t.
Avoiding food poisoning is everyone’s obvious aim. If it happens it’s not the end of the world but is going to put a dent in your plans for a few days. Be cautious, read up about potential problems and turn you brain on before you go ‘full commando’ on food you’ve never experienced.
No fresh leafy greens
Unless you are absolutely sure they have been copiously washed with filtered water it is best to avoid eating anything in this category. Cooked greens are usually ok, especially in boiled soups. Try to also avoid raw unpeeled fruit or vegetables.
Salads in a street restaurant somewhere off the beaten track? Probably not.
Street food, literally food you can buy on the kerbside or footpaths anywhere in Thailand, often looks and smells amazing, and is usually safe to eat. But avoid anything that looks like it’s been sitting around in the sun and humidity.
Stick with bubbling boiling soups, freshly made Pad Thai, and meat that has been grilled right in front of you.
Ice ice baby
The vast majority of restaurants and bars in tourist areas use ice that comes from frozen purified water and have it delivered daily. Off the beaten track it’s best to ask first if the ice ‘nam kang’ is made from tap water or is fresh that day. When in doubt, leave it out – enjoy your drink a bit warmer than usual 🙂
It’s best to observe the golden rule about drinking water in Thailand – never drink the tap water. The down -side is that most of the potable water is going to come to you in plastic water bottle which we’re all, including Thailand, trying to reduce the usage. Most hotels, and some restaurants, will have drinking stations where you can top up your water safely.
Water is very cheap in Thailand and is available everywhere – at least in the ‘on every corner’ convenience stores like 7-eleven and Family Mart.
All that said, we suspect that in places like Phuket, Chiang Mai, most of inner Bangkok, Pattaya and Hua Hin, the water out of the tap IS safe to drink these days. But don’t take our word for it! As a traveller, you need to err on the side of caution.
The Thaiger has lived in Thailand for a decade and brushes teeth and uses the local supply (in Phuket) and has never had any ‘tummy-rumbles’ from interacting with the local potable water supply. But that’s not a scientific study, just our experience.
“Mmmm, that pizza was great last night. I’ll have the rest tomorrow.”
Maybe, but you need to refrigerate it before it gets cold and, the next day, eat it quickly before it has time to ‘warm up’. If it’s more than a day, throw it out or feed it to the dog or cat who have cast-iron stomachs compared to humans. Ditto for any other leftover you think you’d like to save for the next day.
If you are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting you need to make sure you rehydrate properly. If you are not doing a great job holding water in, go to the nearest pharmacy and pick up Oral Rehydration packets.
If you are suffering from food poisoning in Thailand you will do well to grab some of these packets. They should cost you no more than 5 baht. Use up to 5 a day, really.
Seek Medical Treatment
If it’s a mild case you are probably going to be able to self-medicate your way back to perfect health. If it’s serious and you’re just flat on your back (between ruses to the toilet) for more than a day, then you’d be advised to seek medical attention. If you haveÂ blood in your vomit or stools, or high fever lasting more than an hour or so, seek medical attention quickly.
Thai doctors usually go down the medication route whereas some western doctors would now specify a more natural approach to recovery. If you have medical and travel insurance (you’re insane travelling without both!), and are in places like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, Samui, Hua Hin or Khon Kaen, then head to a private international hospital, rather than a local hospital.
There’s nothing really wrong with the local hospitals – you will be charged less but you will be charged – but you’re going to have to battle language barriers and waits at a time when you’re not really focussed on anything except how sick you feel. Thai hospitals are great with emergencies – you will not be considered an emergency, no matter how awful you feel.
A better choice would be a local clinic – Google is your best friend here or ask you hotel or someone with some local knowledge.
CAUTION: A lot of people use to take Loperamide aka. ‘Imodium’ when they had diarrhea in the past. Generally medical advice these days is NOT to take these drugs unless you consult a doctor first. Read more HERE.
Rest and time
Your body will use a lot of energy trying to evacuate whatever is making you sick. Sometimes you will wonder where everything coming out of you came from! It’s just a never-ending source of hell. At some stage though it will calm down and your poor body will be exhausted. So rest.
Don’t be afraid to miss out on a couple of days of activities as a result – put your body and recovery ahead of anything. For now you need lots of sleep and rest.
Be a BRAT
For a few days stay off the exotic foods that put you here in the first place. Go bland, go BRAT. The BRAT diet is tried and tested and, whilst not very exciting, will hep the flora of your stomach recover quickly while getting enough nutrients to keep you going.
BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Yeah, bland indeed.
You can add to this fairly palette with other gentle foods – plain biscuits, oatmeal, weak tea, apple juice or flat carbonated drinks (just open them and let them sit for a few hours), bland ‘broth’ soups, boiled potatoes.
Here are foods to avoid during your recovery – milk and dairy, anything fried, greasy, fatty, or spicy, steak, pork, salmon, and sardines, raw veggies, including salad greens, carrot sticks, broccoli, and cauliflower, fruits, such as pineapple, orange, grapefruit, apple, and tomato, very hot or cold drinks, alcohol, coffee, or other drinks containing caffeine. Or Thai food generally!
After a few days on BRAT you can start trying things like soft-cooked eggs, cooked fruits and vegetables, and white meat, like chicken or turkey.
Importantly, until your body has finished getting rid of ‘whatever is ailing you’, don’t eat anything. It will just end up, along with everything else, making a quick journey from one end to the other.
Start drinking flat soda or carbonated drinks, or ‘Gatorade’-style electrolyte drinks (you can powders from any Pharmacy) as soon as you can to keep the body hydrated, even fresh coconut water, (although make sure it is fresh, otherwise you’re going to end up in the toilet).
Dehydration is a big problem following a bout of vomiting and diarrhea so focus on getting some fluids back into your system as soon as you can tolerate it.
Afternoon tea goes vegan at Bangkok’s Mandarin Oriental
The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok has a newly-appointed executive pastry chef and he’s planning some afternoon tea delights with a difference.
Chef Pablo Gicquel is introducing vegan and gluten-free options as part of the traditional afternoon tea offering, available from October 7 in The Author’s Lounge at the renowned Bangkok hotel.
Highlights on the vegan menu will include vegan cheese puffs, vegan “bratwurst sausage”, “Calisson” almond cake with mandarin marmalade, and scones with golden sultanas and a Granny Smith apple with homemade jam and tofu spread.
As always, the menu boasts a choice of freshly brewed coffee and a selection of fine teas.
Chef Pablo’s menu is a nod to a growing global trend, as more consumers embrace a plant-based diet.
His afternoon tea menu will include a total of 13 vegan and gluten-free savoury and sweet treats, bringing health benefits that include lower risk of heart disease and lower blood sugar levels, as well as the environmental benefits that come from the vegan way of living.
Feel smug as you indulge, all while enjoying the beautiful surroundings of an historic Bangkok property.
SOURCE: The Nation
The 5 Thai dishes most likely to harbour bacteria
Research shared by Thai Residents reveals the 5 Thai dishes most likely to contain E-coli and other nasty bacteria.
They are Red Pork Rice, Crunchy Pork Rice, Chicken Rice, Pork Leg Rice, and Papaya Salad.
It’s believed that the reason for this may be that while many of the individual ingredients in these dishes are pre-cooked, they are then left to sit, increasing the chance of bacteria multiplying. When a dish is ordered, ingredients are then mixed together without being heated.
Wooden chopping boards are usually used to prepare many of the ingredients and these boards may not always be properly cleaned, making them an ideal playground for all kinds of germs.
The latest research has been carried out by The Nutrition Association of Thailand, under the Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, using 50 street food samples.
42% of the samples tested had higher than acceptable levels of micro-organisms, and 19 of the 50 samples were found to have high levels of E-coli.
There’s no doubt that street food can be delicious and safe and is an integral part of Thai life. It’s cheap, usually fresh, and usually cooked right in front of you.
But safety is key when choosing where to get your street food and one recommendation is to re-heat it at home before eating, if that’s an option.
Either way, it’s not something we plan to give up anytime soon – as with many situations in life, a little bit of common sense goes a long way.
SOURCE: Thai Residents
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