Top Five Must-Eat Foods in Thailand
Thailand is a paradise for food lovers; especially those that can handle a bit of heat. Interestingly, chilli is not native to Thailand (it’s from Central and South America) but you would never know it. Thai people have embraced chilli with the kind of gusto usually reserved for religion and football.
Without any further ado, these are the things you have to try while you’re in the ‘land of smiles’.
1. Gai Yang, Kao Neow and Som Tum
This classic northern combination of Thai barbecue chicken, sticky rice and green papaya salad is readily available at just about every roadside shack and food court. This dish will cost you all of about 100 baht (AUD $4) for enough food for two people. Ask for it ‘mai pet’ if you don’t want your head blown off. Be aware that it traditionally comes with dried prawns and crab so if you’re not partial, make sure to point it out before they start smashing the salad together with a mortar and pestle.
2. Kao Pad
You might think fried rice is boring but Thai fried rice is some kind of spooky wonderful. Due to a mysterious and impossible to replicate combination of fish sauce, oil and magic, Thai fried rice usually comes with an option of meats, egg, onion, shallots and maybe some Chinese broccoli. This will cost you about 40 baht (unless you’re staying somewhere posh where they will charge you something extortionate like 200 baht or AUD $9).
3. Fruit Shakes
Some people avoid ice when they travel but I tend not to worry because I am fundamentally stupid. The upside of this potentially fatal trait is chugging down a heap of Thai fruit shakes that are a delicious concoction of sugar water, fruit and ice. I recommend the pineapple for pure tropical, guilt-free goodness.
4. Sticky Rice and Mango
This seems like a very simple dish but it’s tricky to perfect (believe me – I have tried!). The rice is cooked in salted, sweetened fresh coconut milk (and if you know how this is made, you are probably going to give up on any DIY aspirations right now) and the ripe mango used is a smaller species common to Asia. This combination is then topped with salty coconut cream and crunchy yellow beans. The result is nothing short of magnificent; gelatinous, squishy, crunchy heaven. This is only available at certain times of year due to the mango season so I recommend you plan your itinerary around it’s availability (I am only half kidding).
Hailed as a super food by health food marketing posters, mangosteens are something that Thai people go nuts for. Unlike the thoroughly revolting durian, mangosteens a) do not stink, b) do not look like prehistoric weaponry and c) are the most luscious fruit known to mankind. They are very dark purple with a green stem and you eat them by slicing through their skin and pulling it apart to reveal the fleshy white centre. It has quite large seeds in the middle that are edible but can be bitter as they get bigger.
What is your favourite Thai dish? Any tips for good places to eat out in old Siam?