Thailand: the land of turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs, and ancient temples. But beyond the picturesque beaches lies a culinary paradise waiting to tantalize your palate.
Thai food is an explosion of flavor: a symphony of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy notes that dance on your tongue. Forget the watered-down versions you’ve encountered back home. If you are looking for authentic Thai cuisine, this is the place to experience it all.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the top traditional Thai dishes that you must try during your trip to Thailand.
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8 Authentic Thai Cuisine Dishes You Must Try in Thailand
Ready to explore the authentic dishes of Thailand? Here are some of the top traditional dishes to try:
Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum Goong is a hot-sour soup that features plump shrimp, mushrooms, chili peppers, and lemongrass. This soup is a perfect example of Thai cuisine’s signature blend of flavors.
The sourness of lime juice, the spiciness of chili peppers, and the fragrance of lemongrass make this dish a must-try in Thailand. It’s a great way to start your meal and awaken your senses.
Pad Thai is easily the most famous Thai dish that has made its way onto menus worldwide. It’s a stir-fried rice noodle dish with tamarind sauce, shrimp, egg, bean sprouts, and peanuts.
This dish is a perfect example of Thai cuisine’s ability to balance sweet, sour, and salty flavors. It’s a staple street food in Thailand, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
Massaman Curry is a fragrant and mild curry that features tender chunks of beef or chicken, potatoes, and peanuts in a rich coconut milk sauce. This dish is a perfect example of the heavy influence on Thai cuisine from its neighboring countries.
The dish’s name is derived from the Malay word for “Muslim,” reflecting the dish’s Muslim origins. It’s a must-try if you’re looking for something flavorful but not too spicy.
Som Tam is a salad dish made from shredded green papaya, tomatoes, chili peppers, and fish sauce. This dish is perfect for those who love spicy and sour flavors. It’s a great way to cool down on a hot day, and it often goes in hand with grilled fish or chicken.
Khao Pad is a simple but delicious fried rice dish with egg, onions, and meat or seafood. This dish is a perfect example of how Thai cuisine can transform simple ingredients into a flavorful and satisfying meal. It’s often served as a quick, easy, and affordable meal for locals and tourists alike.
Gaeng Keow Wan Gai
Gaeng Keow Wan Gai is a green curry chicken dish that features Thai basil, lime leaves, and green chilies in a creamy coconut milk sauce. This dish is a must-try for those who love spicy food. It’s a great way to explore the depth of flavors in Thai cuisine.
Khao Soi is a northern Thai dish that features egg noodles in a coconut milk-based curry soup. The soup is accompanied by tender chunks of beef or chicken, crispy egg noodles, and pickled mustard greens.
This dish is a perfect example of how Thai cuisine varies across the country. It’s a must-try for those looking for something unique and delicious.
Pad Kra Pao Moo
Pad Kra Pao Moo is a fiery stir-fry of minced pork, holy basil, chilies, and fish sauce. The aroma alone is enough to make your mouth water. The holy basil, with its unique anise-like flavor, infuses the dish with a depth that lingers long after the last bite.
The dish is best enjoyed with a side of steamed rice, the fluffy grains soaking up the rich sauce and fiery heat. Besides pork, you will find other variations made from seafood, chicken, or beef.
Authentic Thai cuisine offers a unique blend of flavors that will leave you savoring for more. From hot and sour soups to fragrant curries, Thai cuisine has something for everyone. As you explore Thailand, try these top traditional Thai dishes and immerse yourself in the country’s rich culinary culture.
How spicy is Thai food?
This is a top concern for many! The spiciness of Thai food can vary greatly, depending on the dish and the region. While many dishes like Tom Yum and Pad Kra Pao are known for their heat, others like Khao Pad and some curries can be milder. Be sure to ask about the spice level before ordering, and don’t be afraid to say “mai pet” (not spicy) if you’re worried.
What are some common Thai ingredients I should be aware of?
Some common Thai ingredients that may be unfamiliar include fish sauce, shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, and nam phrik (chili paste). If you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, let your server know.
Do I need to worry about street food?
Street food is a delicious and affordable way to experience Thai cuisine, but it’s important to choose reputable vendors. Stick to stalls with good hygiene and high customer turnover. Look for vendors who use fresh ingredients and cook the food thoroughly.
Is it okay to tip in Thailand?
Tipping is not expected in Thailand, but it’s always appreciated. If you want to show your appreciation for good service, you can leave a small amount of money on the table.
What are some vegetarian or vegan options?
If you are vegan or vegetarian, there are plenty of dishes to choose from. Look for dishes with vegetables, tofu, or tempeh. Some popular options include pad thai with tofu mango sticky rice and tofu satay.