There’s been a while since I wrote about the desserts of Thailand and, of course, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to write also about the fabulous dishes of Thai Cuisine. As I told before, Thailand grab me by the stomach! The dishes are incredibly flavored and with a lot of textures. Crispy, crunchy, smooth, herby, spicy… For sure you will find rich combinations in Thai food!
In this post, I want to share some special dishes of the Thai cuisine that you must try if you’re in Thailand or in any thai restaurant around the world… So, let’s go?
Papaya salad is one of the most traditional dishes here in Thailand. Made by slices of green papaya, tomato, long beans, garlic, roasted peanuts, dry shrimp, palm sugar, tamarind juice, lemon and Thai spices, this salad has a exotic combination and a lot of flavors that makes it delicious.
You can have it as a main dish or side dish… It serves very well with meat and barbecue!
This is a very spice and unique salad, made with minced chicken and herbs. It can be served warm, but usually thai people serve it cold. It’s made by minced chicken, shallots, lemongrass, green onion, garlic and herbs, especially cilantro. It also takes some lime juice and soya sauce to finish. It’s really good!
Tom Kha Gai
Tom Kha Ga is the famous coconut chicken thai soup. Besides the coconut cream and the chicken, of course, the soup has onions and mushrooms in the recipe. The main flavor is made by lemongrass and galangal, a kind of thai ginger. A good Tom Kha Gai is very creamy and smooth. It’s perfect for dinner in my opinion and also more cold days!
Tom Yum is another classic thai soup. However, differently from Tom Kha Gai, this is usually spicy! This soup is an amazing combination of sour and spicy flavors. It's made usually with prawns and chicken. In the recipe it takes galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves and fish sauce. Everything in Thai cuisine that has the red color is spicy… So, if you’re not into hot flavors, this soup probably is not for you. However, I highly recommend you to give a try!
Khao Soi is made by egg noodles, which are yellow and usually thick, and a soup made by chicken broth, red curry paste, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar, shallots, lime, and cilantro. Thai people cook this soup for hours until all the vegetables and the meat almost disappear.
You can have Khao Soi vegetarian, with chicken, pork or beef. However, the traditional recipe is made with a chicken leg. After the soup is done, the egg noodles are added into a bow. Then, a great ladle of coconut milk or coconut cream is added. Finally, on the top, they put the chicken leg (or any other meat you ordered) fried noodles and cilantro.
The khao soi is always served with some mustard leafs pickles, lime, and shallots. I just love to squeeze the lime in, but the shallots and the pickles I usually don’t add.
This dish is lightly spicy, but for me sounds like comfort food. On rainy days, it's one of my top choices for sure!
You can find a street food stall serving Rotis without any difficulties. Usually, they are made by Muslims people since it’s considered as Halal food (food that is prepared in accordance with the Qur'an). In Thailand, this pancake is not served with curries as in Malaysia, but with bananas, eggs or cheese. The most famous flavor of Roti in Thailand is eggs with banana, served with condensed milk. Roti is a kind of street food you cannot miss in Thailand and also in Malaysia. Even the recipe is very similar and the preparation either, both countries have delicious and creative ways to make this pancake an amazing thing!
Accordingly to David Thompson, an Australian chef and cookery writer specialized in Thai Cuisine, the massaman comes from “Mussulman” or Muslim. And considering that the Muslim population of Thailand is more located in the south of the country, that’s not a coincidence that you can find this dish there. The massaman curry has Persian roots and was originated in the 17th century.
Preparing the food is not complicated, like all the Thai dishes. However, the ingredients are not so easy to find in other parts of the world, since they are typically Thai. The Massaman Curry is made by a paste of spices and coconut milk. You can make it with meat, but the veggie version, tofu, and vegetables make also a great combination!
In the curry paste are mixed coriander, black pepper, cumin, galangal, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, lemongrass, and chilly pepper. The original recipe also takes fish sauce, so if you’re vegetarian please check if they will not use the fish/oyster sauce on your meal.
The curry paste is mixed with coconut milk and the vegetables are cooked together. the tofu is fried and also put together in the end. It’s served with rice (in my case, brown rice) and it was simply delicious!
Pad See Eiw
Pad See Eiw is a noodle dish that can be made with pork or chicken. Noodles in Thailand are usually rice noodles and you can find it in different sizes. The Sen Lek is very similar to linguine size, Sen Yai is more like pappardelle size, and finally, the Sen Mhee is the very famous rice vermicelli.
The basic ingredients are meat, eggs, Chinese broccoli, and sweet black soy sauce. It can also be made with Sen Yai or Sen Mhee, but for me, the Sen Yai is the perfect size for this recipe. Everything is prepared very quickly in the wok and it tastes amazingly delicious. For those who are not fans of spicy food, this dish has the touch of Asian/Thai cuisine without the burning sensation of spices.
The classic from the classics! Yes, this noodles are everywhere and they are one of the most famous of Thailand, for sure! You can find Pad Thai in fancy restaurants and also on the street. My recommendation? The difference in the price can be huge, however, in taste are minimum. The best Pad Thais I’ve try in Thailand were in the street… So, don’t spend money on fancy restaurants, at least to eat this dish!
Pad Thai is made by stir fry rice noodles, made with fish sauce, tamarind sauce, palm sugar, dry shrimp, garlic, shallots and chilly, of course! It can be made with chicken, shrimp, tofu or beef. It’s served with an omelet covering it and some sprouts. It’s a must-try for sure!
Roasted chicken with tamarind sauce & som tum
As I mentioned before, traditionally, papaya salad is spicy, which makes it the perfect combination of the roasted chicken. The sweet-spicy flavor of the salad plus the smoked flavor of the chicken makes BOOOMMM! It’s amazing!
Plus, this dish also has a special touch, that changes the simplicity to something more special. Yes, I’m talking about the tamarind sauce! This sauce… really! No words to describe it! It’s sweet-sour spice sauce and is one of the best sauces that I ever tried in my life! You can dip anything on it and it will be amazing!
I even made a theory for this sauce… Tamarind sauce is the salty Nutella of Thailand… No matter what you put on it, it becomes amazing!
The holy basil stir fry, or pad kaprao (in the Thai language), is a very popular dish in Thailand. You can find it anywhere, from street markets, food courts and also local restaurants. It’s a simple dish to prepare, but it has a complex spicy flavor and special aroma of the holy basil.
Traditionally the holy basil stir fry is made with minced chicken or pork. But you can also find it made with squid, shrimp or seafood. The vegetarian version is made with tofu or mushrooms most of the time.
The classic way to serve the holy basil stir fry is with rice and a greasy fried egg on the top. The egg, in my opinion, is the star of this dish, because when the soft egg mellows out the strong and spicy flavor, u-la-lah!!!! It’s such a perfect combination!
For Thai people, the holy basil stir fry is almost like a sandwich, ‘cause it's easy and quick to prepare. For me, it’s a kind of comfort food here in Thailand. Every week I go to my tasty amazing holy basil stir fry!
Khao Pad Sapparod
The fried rice on the pineapple (Khao Pad Sapparod) is a typical dish of the south of Thailand. However, I was very happy to find it also here in the North. This plate is full of flavors and mixes the sweet-sour taste of the pineapple with vegetables and rice. We order with shrimp and it was simply amazing! Seriously, it was one of the best of my life!
We also had a stir-fried chicken with mushrooms and ginger that was absolutely delicious too!
Moo/ Nuea Toon
I fell in love with this noodle since I was walking around a food court and suddenly I felt some aroma of cinnamon and barbecue. A lady opened a big pan, where a broth seemed to be cooked for hours and hours. She took a piece of pork from inside and chopped serving the that with rice noodle. You could feel the smell it at a distance and it looked very very tasty. I decided to try and I never forgot that experience.
The braised pork noodle is a dish with tons of flavors. Looking for the recipe after, I discover that my nose and tongue were right! It definitely has a lot of cinnamon and many other seasonings inside. Onion, garlic, anise, coriander, and galangal, which is a kind of ginger very typical in Thailand.
Because the pork is cooked for hours in that broth, it becomes soft and super tasty! Even if you’re not a soup person, I think you will love it!
The braised pork is served with a boiled egg and kale. On the top, they put some fried garlic, roasted chili in vinegar and some spring onion and coriander chopped. Yay! It’s really a super bowl!
Guay Tiew Naam Tok
This noddle is very very similar to the braised pork, however, the broth is made by the blood of pig or cow. It’s very typical, but for me was kind of disgusting, I should say. It’s also served with rice noodles, usually the thin one, and pieces of pork. It’s good, but the blood detail was a bit too much for me!
I lived in ten countries until this moment, and for sure, in terms of food, Thailand was one of the most special ones. Thai cuisine is so simple and so rich at the same time that it’s hard not to fall in love with it!