Thailand is a beautiful country – full of culture, history, kind people, and, of course, delicious food. When it comes to foods in Thailand, let’s just say, the options are plenty and the menu is long.
If you’re traveling to Thailand soon, you’re most likely already planning what you want to eat while you’re there. While you might have tried Thai food in a restaurant, there is nothing quite like grabbing some curry from a street vendor in Bangkok or sampling the fish in a local restaurant in Chiang Mai. Thailand is the street food capital of the world!
Below, we break down some of the dishes you have to try on your next trip to Thailand.
Here are 10 foods in Thailand that you have to try:
1. Massaman Curry
Massaman curry combines flavors found in traditional Thai cooking – lemongrass, cilantro, shallots, garlic – with ingredients from the Indian subcontinent, such as cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, and star anise. Combined with coconut milk, this creamy sauce is added to chicken, onions, and potatoes, resulting in a mildly spicy, flavorful, and filling dish.
2. Khao Soi
Khao Soi is a typically northern Thailand dish made with noodles and coconut milk. It contains a mixture of boiled and fried egg noodles with shallots, lime, pickled mustard greens,and chilis. This rich and flavorful meal is a must-try when visiting Chiang Mai in particular.
3. Mango Sticky Rice
A sweet dessert that can be found throughout Southeast Asia, Mango Sticky Rice is particularly popular in Thailand. It is made with glutinous rice, coconut milk, sugar, and fresh mangoes. This can mainly be bought from street food vendors during the mango season of April and May. The dish is served warm and is the perfect way to finish your evening or lunchtime meal.
4. Guay Tiew
Guay Tiew is essentially a noodle soup, which can be made in many different ways using a variety of ingredients. Its origins lie in Chinese cooking, but it has been adapted to Thai tastes over the years and can now be found all over Thailand. Noodle shops allow customers to personalize their orders, even down to the level of spice. Usually, Guay Tiew consists of a base of rice or egg noodles topped with chicken, pork or beef. Other ingredients include chopped peanuts, cilantro, spring onions or bean sprouts. A choice of condiments can then be added, including fish sauce, dried chilis, sugar, and vinegar.
5. Pad Thai
Pad Thai is one of the national dishes of Thailand and is often the first thing tourists will want to try when they arrive. Pad Thai is a noodle dish often made with shrimp or chicken (though the vegetarian option is also popular), which is wok-fried with peanuts, beansprouts, egg, and vegetables. It can be bought from street vendors all over the country, and definitely something you have to try when you visit.
6. Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum is a traditional Thai hot and sour soup. It is a base of herby broth infused with typically Thai flavors such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal lime juice, fish sauce and chilis. ‘Goong’ is the Thai word for shrimp, which is usually the main ingredient of the meal – however, Tom Yum can also be made with meat or vegetables. Adding milk to the sauce results in the creamier but equally delicious dish of Nam Khon.
7. Som Tam
Considered a national dish of both Thailand and Laos, Som Tam is a delicious green papaya salad. It is usually made with unripe papaya for a slightly more bland flavor and a nice crunch. The flavor is then increased with a sweet and sour sauce made from lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. This dish is sure to tantalize the tastebuds with its sweet, salty, sour, and spicy elements.
Jok is a Thai rice porridge breakfast, typically served with pork meatballs and various condiments such as garlic, chilis, ginger, and cilantro. A runny egg is stirred into the mix which gives it a deliciously creamy texture. While it might not sound like typical breakfast food for some people, this meal is nourishing, healthy, tasty, and sure to fill you up with energy for the day. Definitely a must-try before a day of sightseeing!
9. Pla Pao
To make Pla Pao, a whole fish that is stuffed with lemongrass and covered in coarse salt before being grilled over hot coals. It might sound plain, but the thick layer of salt during the cooking process leaves the fish perfectly flaky, soft, and juicy on the inside. It’s then served with a dipping sauce and a side of noodles and vegetables for some extra flavor.
10. Sai Ua
Sai Ua is a fragrant sausage made with pork, herbs, spices, and curry paste. It’s originally from the northern or Chiang Mai area of Thailand, but can now be found throughout the country. It can be eaten alone as a snack or starter or served with sticky rice as the main course.
There are so many delicious, varied and exciting foods to try on your upcoming adventure to Thailand. Now that you have a good starting point for diving into Thai cuisine, it’s time to get excited about all the other amazing new experiences you’ll have on your trip!