Thai food is renowned across the world for its spicy, tangy, sweet and tasty flavours. It’s a big favourite back home in the UK and rightly so.
We are HUGE fans of Thai cuisine and have been living in foodie heaven for the past 4 months that we have been in Thailand.
So we want to share with you some inspiration on the best foods to eat in Thailand.
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23 Delicious Foods To Eat in Thailand
1. Pad Thai
You have to start a Thai food list with the famous national dish, Pad Thai. This noodle dish was invented in the first half of the 20th century through a competition to come up with a dish that represented the country and its cuisine.
Pad Thai is such an easy and accessible dish to eat. Served everywhere from street food carts to high-end restaurants. Sometimes it’s served in a styrofoam carton other times wrapped in an egg omelette. You can season to your liking with extra fish sauce, chilli flakes, peanuts, lime, beansprouts or sugar. It’s the ol’ reliable of Thai cuisine.
2. Pad Gaprow
Pad Gaptow is a chilli and holy basil stir-fry which is usually served with either pork or chicken. This dish has quite a fiery kick to it with the distinct holy basil flavour. You normally eat this stir fry with a mound of white rice with a fried egg on top. It’s quite delicious for breakfast as well!
3. Khao Soi Gai
This is a staple up in the Northern city of Chiang Mai. It is a curry broth with both soft and crispy noodles and chicken. Usually served garnished with fresh coriander, shallots and lime. I love the contrast between the two types of noodles, and the soup is delicious!
4. Kao Niew
Sticky rice! Oh, how I love sticky rice. I’m sure there’s a sonnet in there somewhere.
Anyway, sticky rice is addictive. Seriously. I don’t know what it is about having your rice in a sticky way but its incredible more-ish. Much like we eat our Indian food with our hands and roti (bread), we eat our stir-fries with sticky rice using our hands.
5. Som Tam
Also known as Papaya Salad. Almost every street corner has a street food seller making fresh som tam to order. Every market has a stall and almost every Thai food establishment serves it up. The salad uses shredded unripe papaya which is pounded up in a pestle and mortar along with some tomato and green bean, sometimes carrot, along with a balanced dressing of lime juice, chilli, sugar, and fish sauce. Sometimes you can order a Som Tam variation with crab, shrimp, salted fish, preserved egg or mango. It is best eaten with a side of sticky rice to take the edge off the spiciness.
If you’re not a fan of too much spicy then order ‘Som Tam Mai Phet’, which translates to non-spicy Som Tam.
6. Miang Kham
Miang Kham is usually served as an appetiser or dessert or even a buffet offering (as seen on our vlog here). It involves taking a green leaf called Chaplu and filling it with a bunch of delicious tidbits such as lime, ginger, shallots, nuts, dried shrimp, roasted coconut, and a tamarind or cane sugar jam/syrup. You roll it up and pop it into your mouth in one go. I usually go without the dried shrimp and it’s surprisingly tasty. And surely it’s healthy what with most of it being leaf?!
7. Kao Man Gai
When you’re trying to not eat ALL the fried food in Thailand it makes a nice change to pick up some Kao Man Gai, or boiled chicken on rice with a chicken broth. It’s also known as Hainanese Chicken. I try to ask for Ock Gai, which is chicken breast because the Thai people tend to prefer bone meat. And I just gotta get me some breast action every now and then!
8. Boat Noodles
Traditionally served on the rivers that covered the whole of Bangkok way back, Boat Noodles is essentially noodle soup. It’s a soy sauce-based soup which is stronger in flavour than the standard noodle soups.
9. Jelly Sweet Soup thing (will remember the name soon)
Our friend shared this dessert with us once and it nearly blew our heads off with sweetness! Even Raj with his sweet tooth couldn’t handle it. It’s basically a cold sugary soup filled with sweet bits of jelly and beans. You can water it down with ice to cut through the sweetness. But this is definitely one for the sweet-toothed among you.
10. Khanom Krok
Another Thai sweet thing. I believe this is more often served for breakfast. At least that’s what my Thai friend’s told me. It’s basically sweet coconut lightly fried into this small cup shape. They are bite-sized, and slightly chewy.
11. Tom Yum Goong
A classic Thai dish, we absolutely love this deliciously spicy and sour soup with prawns. It can vary in strength, sometimes it can taste quite lemongrass-y, other times super spicy. Just remember that most of the ingredients are there for flavour only. Don’t eat the lemongrass, galangal (ginger-looking thing), and kaffir lime leaf.
12. Thai-style Chicken and Cashew Nuts
You might think you’ve tried Chicken and Cashew Nuts before, but let me tell you this … you ain’t tried nothing until you’ve tried a good Thai-style version.
13. Fresh Tamarind
It has the consistency of dates but is more tangy. Raj likes them a lot.
14. Mango and Sticky Rice
It’s currently mango season here in Thailand and the country goes nuts for them! The nation’s favourite way to eat this fruit is sliced up with some coconut-infused sticky rice. It’s a deliciously sweet treat and not to be missed.
15. Crispy Pork on Rice
I probably eat this way more than I should. I have such a weakness for crispy pork. It’s such an easy, simple dinner. A handful of crispy belly pork was sliced up and chucked onto some rice with a tasty chilli sauce on the side. It does what it says on the tin.
16. Salted Baked Fish
We tried this right at the beginning of our trip. It’s a whole fish which is soaked in a wet salt mixture and then barbecued. The result is an incredibly tender white fish. Sometimes they stuff the fish insides with a bunch of fresh herbs resulting in a delicately infused fish flavour.
17. Red Bean Ice Cream
We tried this one when a local street food seller came round with his cart. Our Thai friends nipped out to buy a bunch for us to try. It’s an interesting flavour. It’s kind of sweet yet savoury. I wish I could describe it better but it’s worth a try.
18. Coconut Ice Cream
I absolutely love coconut-flavoured anything. We first tried these on our outing to Chatuchak Market and it was a most welcome relief from the searing, sticky heat of the day. The ice cream is served in a coconut shell with the flesh scraped up ready to eat. Oh, and they often offer an array of toppings to add. We chose peanuts for lots of extra nuttiness.
19. Penang Curry
Or most Thai curries to be honest. We love them. Penang curry is a more dry curry, that is without the sauciness of a Green or Red curry. It is relatively milder and a bit nuttier. I like how rich and dense the flavour is.
20. Khanom Pang Na Moo
It’s not that common to find but this was the first Thai dish I ever tried back when I was 9 years old and living in Hampshire. It’s served as an appetiser in some restaurants. It’s basically flavoured minced pork on fried bread, so kind of like sesame prawn toast, but better! Dipped into some plum sauce, it’s fantastic!
21. Catfish Salad
One of the more unusual ways to eat fish and not really like the conventional salads we think of. For a start, it’s not healthy at all. This salad involved frying the fish out of the fish! It’s a super crispy fish dish. It’s hard to describe but you get this more for the texture than anything else. Probably best enjoyed with Som Tam and Sticky Rice.
22. Pork Knuckle on Rice
The Thais love their pork; it’s everywhere you go! This dish is essentially a slow-cooked pork stew. The flavour is intense and is served with plenty of sauce. Definitely worth a try.
23. Barbecued Squid on a Stick
In fact, you can get most meats on a stick in Thailand. Almost every street or neighbourhood has some kind of street food seller with a makeshift barbecue on wheels. You can find pork balls, sausages, chicken, fish balls, various insides, and our recommendation, squid.
They use a squid which is barbecued and then served up with a spoonful of chilli sauce. The result is slightly chewy on the outside, yet tender in the middle fishy meat with an incredibly more-ish sauce. (see Raj try it for the first time here).
That’s our list so far! It should keep you going for a while when you’re in Thailand. And if you see any of it at your local Thai restaurant, give ’em a go!