Thai Culinary Delights in Thailand
Thai food is famous across the globe for its superb cuisine, and you will be spoilt for choice. Menus are extremely varied as every cook has their own recipe, with variations of the same dish found in street stalls and 5-star restaurants. Luckily for the budget conscious, the cheap open-air food stalls and tiny Thai restaurants that abound throughout the country can provide some delicious food! Thai cooks always use fresh ingredients and will happily cook in your presence. So generally speaking, you can be assured of cleanliness. Each cook has their own recipe; be it for green or red curries, spicy papaya salad, spicy shrimp soup, chicken in coconut soup, stir-fry vegetables or fresh fish. Every region of Thailand has its own specialities, ranging from Bangkok Pad Thai, to Burmese curries, to Phuket seafood, to the spicy food of the Northeast (Isaan). The Thai version of spicy (phet) usually means business; so if you want less spicy you can say 'mai phet', if you want really spicy you say 'phet mak'. You can often get popular specialities in restaurants across the land. Here are some top dishes to try: Tom Yum (Spicy Soup) An amazing aromatic soup bursting with flavour. A broth made with fragrant lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce and chilli which give it its distinct spicy-sour flavour. You can choose what meat you want in it; shrimp is the classic - Tom Yum Goong. It often packs a big punch in the spice department, so a 'mai phet' request is recommended unless you like it hot! Tom Kha Kai (Chicken in Coconut Soup) If you don't fancy Tom Yum's fiery rage, this is a great alternative still packed with the same aromatic flavours. The addition of plenty of coconut milk gives a creamier, milder taste. Som Tam (Spicy Green Papaya Salad) This Northeastern Isaan dish is a refreshingly crunchy salad with a feisty kick! Shredded raw papaya, garlic, chillies, cherry tomatoes and green beans are the classic ingredients which create a spicy-sweet-sour flavour. Peanuts, dried shrimp and other tweaks are often added. Pad Thai (Thai Fried Noodles) There are so many variations of this tasty classic. Noodles, bean sprouts, onion and egg, are the primary ingredients. It should be sampled at a street food stall, where you see the chef throw everything around in a searing hot wok, before launching it in your dish a minute later. Yam Nua (Spicy Beef Salad) This salad is so good it can turn salad haters. Juicy strips of beef are flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice, fresh mint, onions and of course, chillies. A refreshing, spicy salad not to be missed. Gaeng Keow Wan Kai (Green Chicken Curry) An internationally renown dish that must be tried when in Thailand. The green curry paste is blended with coconut milk to create a green soup, then is filled with aubergine (eggplant), green beans, bamboo shoots, coriander, fresh basil and garnished with sliced chillies. Comes with a fragrant Thai rice. Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry) Another classic now familiar around the world. Coconut milk means despite its bright red colour, has a relatively mild and fragrant flavour. A milder curry alternative to the Green Curry. Pad Krapow Moo (Fried Pork and Basil) A simple but amazingly flavoursome dish made from minced pork, soy sauce, loads of freshly chopped basil leaves and chillies, served over a bed of rice. Mixing with the rice helps keep the temperature gauge down! Another good street food stall dish. Street Food Snacks Some superb street food favourites are freshly fried spring rolls, dipped in sweet chili sauce, and BBQ Skewers of chicken/pork (gai/moo bing).