Thai food has diverse tastes and textures that no two meals are ever the same—interpretations and preparation across Thailand’s regions. The four areas of Thailand, Northern, Central, Southern, and Isaan or Northeastern, each have distinct cultures, dialects, and delectable cuisines.
Come taste your way through the flavors of the Land of Smiles by dining on our selection of the 10 greatest meals this gourmet nation has to offer. There’s a good chance you’ll go returning for more!
Tom yum goong (spicy shrimp soup)
The aromatic lemongrass, chili, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, lime juice, and fish sauce in tom yum goong is a bold and refreshing mix. This spicy and sour soup is best served with steaming white rice with delicious river shrimps and straw mushrooms.
Tom Kha Kai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
This classic soup combines hot chilies, finely sliced young galangal, crushed shallots, stalks of lemongrass, and delicate pieces of chicken in a gentle, milder spin on Tom Yum. Lashings of coconut milk, its more watery relative, lessen the fiery punch. It’s a sweet-smelling mixture that’s both creamy and enticing, topped with fresh lime leaves.
Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)
This rich, aromatic curry, made with beef morsels, red curry paste, silky coconut milk, and a sprinkle of finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, always sets those taste receptors tingling. It’s likened to a lovely lady when the meat is at its most tender: it’s gentle, sweet, and fragrant. As in all genuine love encounters, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
This bizarre cuisine, which hails from the Northeastern state of Isaan, is both a great divider. Some people can’t get enough of its bite, while others can’t stand it and are highly distinctive. In a pestle and mortar, garlic, chiles, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and shredded raw papaya are dramatically pulverize. That results in a rounded sweet-sour-spicy taste that is difficult to forget. Peanuts, dried shrimp, or salted crab are added to regional variants, with the latter having a gut-cleansing ability that many visitors are unaware of!
Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Fried Basil and Pork)
Fried basil and pork is a classic one-plate dish for lunch or supper, and it is undoubtedly one of the most popular Thai recipes. It’s cooked with numerous holy basil leaves, giant fresh chilies, pork, green beans, soy sauce, and a little sugar in a boiling hot wok. The greasy minced fatty pork oil blends well with the steaming white rice to provide a delicious and satisfying meal. It’s frequently served with a fried egg (kai dao), and you’ll almost certainly be asked whether you want one. If you don’t want your lips to tingle, ask for pad krapow that is “a little spicy.”
Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles)
The standard worldwide Thai meal from Cape Town to Khao San Road! In a scorching hot wok, fistfuls of tiny, thin, or broad noodles are stir-fried with crisp beansprouts, onion, and egg. Fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chili, and palm sugar are also used to flavor the meal. Pad Thai is generally made with seafood, such as fresh shrimp, crab, or squid, but can also be made with chicken, beef, or pig. A slice of lime wedge, crushed toasted peanuts, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs are frequently served with stir-fried noodles.
Khao pad (Fried Rice)
Fried rice, egg, onion, and a few dashes of herbs — that’s it! The key to this simple lunch meal, which is generally served with a wedge of lime and cucumber slices, is that you should dress it because you are the one who will be devouring it. Thais do it by combining prawns, crab, or chicken with basil, chilies, and leftover veggies, transforming an ordinary pauper into a culinary royal!
Gai Tod (Fried Chicken)
Although fried chicken is not a traditional Thai meal, it is pretty popular in Thailand. Gai tod is made by marinating chicken wings or drumsticks in a spice and rice flour combination before deep-frying the whole thing. The chicken is frequently served with a spicy dipping sauce such as “nam jim” to give a bit more flavor. Gai tod is best served with sticky rice and is a great snack to have on hand.
Yam Talay (Spicy Seafood Salad)
This mixed seafood salad is not only tasty, but it’s also a healthy alternative for a meal. This salad can contain any mix of squid, shrimp, mussels, scallops, or crabmeat, depending on where you are. Tomatoes, onions, and rice glass noodles are added to the seafood mix for good measure.
Laab (Spicy Salad)
Laab is meat or mushroom salad with mint that originated in the northern province of Isan. Laab is present in a range of flavors, including chicken, pork, and mushroom. It is not recommended for people who are sensitive to spice because of its strong kick.