Thai food culture is lively, communal, and rewards those who are willing to take risks with new dishes. Look out for these fantastic dishes when you’re browsing the country’s night markets and streets.
Pad See Eiw
Pad See Eiw is like the spaghetti and meatballs of Thai cuisine: hearty, warm, and comforting. The dish consists of wide rice noodles which are stir-fried in dark soy sauce with chicken, pork, or beef as well as either Chinese broccoli or cabbage. A flavorful but safe choice, it’s an excellent option for those who can’t handle spicier Thai dishes but want to branch out from pad thai. Foodies who like a little more kick can add dried chili flakes, vinegar, or both.
An addictively sweet snack or dessert, kluay tod is deep fried mini-bananas. The dish is usually made with less ripe bananas, which are more suitable for deep frying. The bananas are typically prepared in a batter of desiccated coconut and sesame seeds. The result is a slightly crunchy and golden outside, and a creamy and warm center. They’re excellent freshly fried, or even after they cool off to room temperature.
Pad Kra Pao
Pad kra pao consists of minced pork or chicken stir fried with Thai basil and chilies, all served over white rice. It’s definitely not a dish for picky eaters: The Thai basil has a very sharp, peppery flavor, while the chilies add a hefty dose of spice. You can always take the heat down a notch by asking the vendor to make it pet nit noi (only a little spicy). The dish also often includes pieces of chicken and a fried egg.
Som tam is one of the most popular dishes in Thailand and comes in a variety of serving styles. The basic dish consists of shredded green papaya, tomatoes, carrots, peanuts, dried shrimp string beans, sugar, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and plenty of chilies. The ingredients are mixed together using a mortar and pestle, which blends the flavors beautifully. This dish tends to be quite spicy by default, so depending on your tolerance level, it’s often best to ask for it mai pet (not spicy).
Khao Kha Moo
Khao kha moo is a simple but satisfying dish consisting of stewed pork leg served over rice. When prepared well, the pork is cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and spices until juicy and tender. It’s usually easy to find to the street stalls that sell it, because you can look out for massive pots filled with stewing pigs’ legs. If you prefer less fatty meat, you can ask for it mai ow nang (no skin). It is often served with Chinese broccoli and a hard boiled egg on the side.
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