Ah, Thailand! That heavenly place bathed in sun and happiness all year round and the one destination you just have to visit. What makes it so popular? Well, on one hand, it encompasses that never ending holiday vibe. I mean, with all that sunshine and those sandy beaches, who could really say otherwise?
Then there’s the food. With so many possibilities and contrasting tastes, it’s really hard to pick just one dish. So, we asked our best Thailand food bloggers about their all-time favourite dishes, so that next time you’re in Thailand, you’ll know what to give a try.
Tasty Khao Soi
The unique taste of Thai cuisine is in perfect balance between sweet, bitter, hot, sour and salty flavours. Most Thai dishes use Thai chillies, fish and shrimp sauces, coconut milk, Kaffir leaves and red and green curry pastes. This combination of flavours is what makes this cuisine so distinct.
One of our favourite Thai dishes is Khao Soi, which is Northern Thailand’s most famous dish. Khao Soi is a rich and spicy coconut milk based curry served with chicken or beef and two types of noodles: yellow egg noodles topped with crispy noodles.
From the South of China, the dish made its way to Thailand with traders on their way to Myanmar. That’s why it’s only found in the north of Thailand. The main ingredients are freshly made red curry paste, turmeric powder and curry powder. Read more about taking a Khao Soi Thai cooking class or get the recipe to make it at home.
Vibrant Spicy Thai Mango Apple Salad
Thai food is bold, pungent and very unique in flavour. When I think about Thai food, I see food stalls and colourful markets on the side of the road selling anything from fresh fruit and coffees served in plastic bags, to stir-fried noodles and briny seafood dishes. Going to Thailand for food is a culinary adventure. I lived there for about 6-8 months and kept discovering flavours I had never tasted before. What’s interesting about Thai food is that you can’t trust your nose to decide on what dish you should eat. Some of the stinkiest dishes I’ve smelled ended up being the greatest I’ve eaten in my life.
And if you think you like spicy food, wait until you try what Thai people consider spicy. I still remember the first time I tried tom yum soup in Bangkok – I’m pretty sure I coughed out flames after my first sip! But what makes Thai food so unforgettable is the depth of flavour each dish delivers. And let’s not forget about the condiments! So many different sauces to try, pickles and other fermented foods to use as toppings or flavour enhancers. Whether you are eating sticks of green papaya dipped in chilli sugar or slurping a bowl of Thai pink noodle soup (yen ta fo), one thing is for sure; Thai cuisine will never leave you feeling unsatisfied!
There are too many dishes to mention, but I do love their salads quite a bit. There’s something addictive about combining fresh and crisp fruits and vegetables with a dressing that’s pungent and tart – so delicious and refreshing! This may sound cliche but a good green papaya salad is hard to beat – especially when it’s topped with blue crab and plenty of Thai chillies.
Since I have trouble finding green papaya in New York, I’ve created a similar version that I make with fresh mango and green apples.
Spicy Thai Mango Apple Salad:
- 1 green apple peeled and sliced into strips (julienned)
- 1 small mango peeled and sliced into strips (julienned)
- 2 small Thai chillies finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons cashews salted or unsalted
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons cilantro roughly chopped (optional)
- freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and toss well until all the fruit
2. Season with freshly ground pepper and serve cold.
Delicious Soy Sauce Noodles Mix
Thailand’s cuisine is unique in that it strives for harmony between sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and bitter flavours, resulting in dishes with lovely depth and wonderful nuances. Learning the way different flavours play off each other is part science and part art.
My favourite Thai dish is a concoction that a noodle Vendor whipped up for me in a local market in Phuket, Thailand after asking me what kind of noodles and protein I wanted; the dish didn’t have a name but was similar to Soy Sauce Noodles. My take on her recipe is here on my blog.
Playful Coconut Chia Mango Popsicle
Thailand’s cuisine is aromatic and spicy, which elevates even the most simple meat or vegetable dish into one that’s bursting with flavour. My favourite savoury Thai dish is Massaman curry as it’s relatively mild and naturally gluten-free. As a gluten-free traveller, I actually found it easy to eat in Thailand, but always double check for soy sauce and other ingredients.
To balance all that spice, there’s plenty of fresh fruit and sweet flavours to enjoy – and I’m partial to anything with coconut and mango. Mango smoothies, dried mango, and mangoes and sticky rice are my indulgences. So I recreated those flavours into a healthy, frozen treat with my Coconut Chia Mango Popsicles – which is always a reader favourite!
For me, what makes Thai cuisine truly stand out is the amalgamation of sweet, sour and spicy. Each dish is an adventure for the senses as the different spices and seasonings work together to elevate an otherwise simple set of ingredients to give you that wow factor.
Favourite dish? Definitely mookata! It’s got the best of both worlds – BBQ and steamboat all in one. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy it as it’s pretty much up to you to decide what you want to put on that skillet or pot. Personally, I love popping that crispy piece of pork lard in my mouth after lathering the skillet with it. Don’t forget to get a taste of that broth at the end of your meal, too – the flavours after an hour or so are incredible.
A deep dive into these culinary experiences will add an unforgettable taste to your holiday. Take the recipes home to cook them anytime you feel nostalgia kicking in. For even more enticing recipes that will bring dynamics and diversity to your kitchen, follow our best Thailand food bloggers.