Can you get bland food in Thailand?
Thai food - Our favorite dishes in Thai cuisine (with recipes)
This article describes our favorite Thai dishes. Should you travel to Thailand, then in our opinion it is an absolute "must" to try these dishes of the Thai cuisine. Anyone who has tried the Thai cuisine on site is likely to be, like us, disappointed when they go to a Thai meal in Germany. Unfortunately, it is almost never prepared authentically. We have also created a remedy for you by providing instructions for cooking our absolute favorite Thai dishes.
Thailand is famous for great beaches, temples and much more, but above all for the diverse culinary offer. The unique thing about Thailand is that there is a food stand on every corner that offers all kinds of delicacies for mostly little money. At cookshops you can get a dish for about 30-80 baht and afterwards you are full and usually very satisfied. Food is really a huge part of life in Thailand. It's not for nothing that people ask each other instead of "How are you?" "Have you eaten yet?".
The special thing about Thai cuisine is the balance. A dish usually contains a combination of the 4 basic flavors sweet, sour, spicy and salty. Now there are of course the classics like fried rice and pad thai (noodles) that everyone knows. But if you want to delve a little deeper into Thai specialties, we can recommend many more dishes. It doesn't always have to be spicy, there are also one or two Thai dishes that are not dominated by spiciness. Our absolute favorites of Thai cuisine that you shouldn't miss:
1. Kao Soi (สูตร ทำ ข้าวซอย ไก่) - curry soup with coconut milk and noodles
A northern Thai specialty that we really and truly love. If we had to choose a dish that we would have to eat our whole life, it would be this one. Not every restaurant offers Kao Soi, mostly there are special stands that sell it and you can only find it (with a few exceptions) in the winter months, which is why some travelers never find out about it.
- Egg noodles cooked and deep fried (crispy)
- pickled, sour vegetables
- Chicken (sometimes beef)
- Coconut milk
- Special curry paste
An intense, slightly creamy soup that is sometimes served very hot and sometimes only slightly hot. Seasoned with chillies roasted in oil.
Recipe for Khao Soi on thaifoodmaster
2. Som Tam (ต้มยำ กุ้ง) - Green papaya salad with lime sauce and lots of chillies
One of those hot and sour salads that are so classically Thai. The green, raw papayas will be cut into thin strips and served with a chilli-lime sauce, dried prawns and some tomatoes and peanuts. Usually sticky rice (sticky rice or khao niau) is added to it. A classic Thai dish that you can actually find anywhere.
- green papayas
- dried shrimp
- green beans (raw)
- Chillies, limes, sugar, fish sauce, garlic,
Mostly very spicy but also very tasty, it definitely lives from the sauce.
Recipe for Som Tum on EatingThaiFood.com
3. Pad Krapao moo (ผัด กะเพรา หมู สับ) - Fried meat with Holy Basil and Chilli
Seared meat (there is the variant with chicken, pork or seafood) that is served with lots of chillies, soy sauce, the krapao (Thai basil leaves) and rice as a side dish. Mostly you will also be asked if you would like a fried egg (Kai Dao) on top.
- Meat or seafood
- Holy Basil (Krapao Basil)
- Chillies, soy sauce
The spiciness is definitely necessary here for the taste and is dominant, sometimes half-bars are fumigated during preparation, as the chillies are crushed and thrown into the extremely hot fat.
Recipe for Pad Krapao on thaifoodmaster
4. Mango Sticky Rice (ข้าวเหนียว มะม่วง) - Mango with sweet sticky rice and coconut milk
Our absolute favorite dessert in Thailand, fresh mango with sweet sticky rice and a sweet coconut milk sauce. Not an insider tip, but it shouldn't be missing either. There are definitely differences in taste, depending on how good the mangoes are, the consistency of the rice and how well the amount of sauce is matched to it - if you are unlucky the rice is quite a mush, for example.
- Sticky rice (special rice)
- Coconut milk
- roasted, yellow mung beans as a topping
It is a dessert, therefore naturally sweet but also fruity with a coconut flavor. This dish is definitely a feel-good meal and not exactly easy.
Recipe for Mango Sticky Rice at EatingThaiFood.com
5. Choo Chee Goong (ฉู่ฉี่ กุ้ง) - The fine variant of a Penang currie
Shrimps seared in a special curry paste, which are eaten with rice. Not a soup-like curry and usually garnished with kaffir lime leaves and chillies cut into thin strips. It is similar in taste to a Penang curry, but is completely different when properly prepared.
- typically shrimp, but there are also variants with meat
- special red curry paste
- Shrimp paste
- Coconut milk
- Garlic, onions, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, chillies fresh and dried
- fresh coriander to decorate
This particular red curry paste has its own slightly spicy taste. We have deliberately not linked a recipe at this point, the dish lives extremely from the quality of the paste that good restaurants make themselves or purchase from specialized companies.
6. Tom Yum Goong (ต้มยำ กุ้ง) - Hot and sour soup with shrimp and mushrooms
One of the most famous soups in Thailand. The insert varies between meat and shrimp, whereby shrimp (Thai = Goong) are the classic and there are always a lot of herbs and some vegetables floating around in it. There is both a clear version and a version with coconut milk, which we personally prefer. In the picture below, there is a very hot Tom Yum Goong on the left and a mild Tom Ka Gai on the right, which is also suitable for children and is very heavy on coke milk.
- Tiger prawns
- Oyster mushrooms
- Shallot chillies, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, fish sauce
This soup is usually very hot and slightly acidic. Depending on the region, it is prepared with or without coconut milk. You should definitely try them once and face the spiciness!
Recipe for Tom Yum Goong on thaifoodmaster
7. Khao Kha Moo (ข้าว ขา หมู) - Boiled pork with rice
One of the typical Thai dishes that you can find at every market and rest stop on the way. Visually, the dish doesn't have much to offer, a plate with rice and pork. But try it once and you'll almost get addicted to the meat cooked overnight in an intense sauce. The dish usually also comes with a boiled egg and some green vegetables on the side.
- Pork knuckle meat
- Special sauce, often based on old family recipes
- Boiled egg and possibly some vegetables
The meat is incredibly tender and crumbles in the mouth. The sauce is heavy and very tasty. In general, the dish is not spicy, but you can add a little bit of spiciness with the additional hot sauce. Unfortunately, this dish is only special if it is still well and originally cooked. It is usually served with a bit of skin and fat, but it can be canceled.
Recommendation for a special Khao Kha Moo in Chiang Mai on EatingThaiFood.com
8. Khua Kling (วิธี ทำ คั่ว กลิ้ง หมู) - Dry curry from southern Thailand, extremely hot
In principle, this dish is very mundane, dry meat with lots of chillies. This is then eaten with rice. If it's done well, it's an absolute highlight.
- Pork (other works too)
- special south thai curry paste
- Lemongrass, chillies, kaffir lime leaves
This dish is really extremely spicy, it lives from the spiciness, without it it would be boring. Another special feature is the rather dry meat. We know many Thai people who cannot eat this dish, so be careful when trying it - Chris had Khua Kling almost every other day during our two months on Koh Phayam, even for breakfast.
Recipe for Khua Kling on EatingThaiFood.com
9. Raad Na (ราด หน้า) - noodles in thickened soup
Broad pasta in a slimy sauce with marinated meat and lots of vegetables. A mild dish that both children and adults usually enjoy. Has no strong flavors and is ideal as a light meal.
- Chicken (or other meat)
- Rice noodles
- Garlic, onions, oyster sauce, soy sauce
- Tapioca flour
- chicken broth
Mild and not too intrusive, good as lunch on hot days or as a dish that is gentle on the stomach.
Recipe for Raad Na on thai-foodie.com
10. Laab & Nam Dtok (ลาบ & น้ำตก) - meat, chilli, limes and lots of flavor
Laab Isaan is a typical dish from northeast Thailand. It's actually a minced meat pan with a lot of chillies and no sauce. Originally this was eaten raw with up to 20 spices and as many herbs. Even today, some men still eat the raw laab version after slaughtering animals.
- Minced meat
- roasted chilli powder
- Lime juice, fish sauce
- roasted rice
- fresh coriander, fresh mint and spring onion
Laab Isaan is hot, salty, spicy, a little sour and also nutty. It is a very dry dish, the meat is seared with the spices and rice in the pan until there is no more sauce.
Information about the different types of laab on thaifoodmaster
What else you should know about eating in Thailand
The cutlery - chopsticks are the exception!
In Asia you eat with chopsticks, right? Thailand is neither China nor Japan - and so it happens that the dominant cutlery is spoon and fork, chopsticks are only used for noodle soups (like Khao Soi) and noodle dishes (like Pad Thai). Knives are unusual, as all ingredients are already served in bite-sized sizes or the spoon is completely sufficient for chopping, e.g. B. in omelets.
You hold the spoon in your right hand and the fork in your left. The food is pushed onto the spoon with the aid of the fork and brought to the mouth with the spoon.
The menu sequence - all at once!
Contrary to most western kitchens, there are actually no individual courses in Thai cuisine. Classically, all dishes are served at the same time and placed in the middle of the table, everyone gets a plate and a bowl for the soup and then you help yourself as you wish. That's how we do it too, especially when we go out to eat with friends. As a rule of thumb you can say the number of people plus 1 gives the number of dishes to be ordered. Rice is served separately in a large bowl or already on the plates.
However, many restaurants also offer "single dishes", where the ordered dish is served on a plate together with rice. In that case it is intended for a single person.
The only exception to the menu sequence are the desserts, which are served at the end, similar to in Europe.
Upset your stomach? The thing about hygiene!
Many visitors ask themselves, especially during their first stay in Thailand, whether it is "safe" for us Europeans to eat at such a cookshop. The hygiene standards here are nowhere near what we are used to at home. As for that concern, we have 2 key tips:
- Order dishes typical of the country, because these are usually cooked very hot in a wok and fried, which is known to kill most bacteria. Don't order a burger “medium raw” or a 1 minute egg. If the stand sells raw seafood, we would rather advise against it - although many dishes with raw shrimp are a real hit in terms of taste.
- Follow the crowd, that is, orient yourself to the locals, where many Thais eat, the food is usually not only authentic, but it also shows that a lot is sold here. A steady turnover also requires fresh goods at all times. Don't be dazzled by fancy restaurants where a few tourists sit because it looks cleaner - especially since the ambience says little about the cleanliness of the kitchen.
With these 2 tips in mind, you should be able to get around most stomach upsets and enjoy your culinary Thailand tour.
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