Essential Thai Dishes
Thai dishes you must know and love
Thai food is considered one of the most culturally rich in the world. Chinese, Indian and Malaysian influences make Thailand’s cuisine diverse and complex. The vast array of regional dishes and differences between what you can find in every province broaden the flavor palette.
A sense of balance permeates Thai food: sweet, salty, spicy, it always adds up, and the results are invariably greater than the sum of the ingredients.
It’s hard to single out the best dishes in such a food-oriented country, and we know every list will miss more than one extraordinary dish; having said that, these are our favorite Thai dishes and why we love them.
The main ingredient of this ubiquitous salad is shredded unripe papaya. This dish portrays the classic, balanced Thai preparations with sweetness from palm sugar, saltiness from fish sauce, spiciness from chili and tartness from lime juice.
The result is incredibly flavorful, which is why this dish is recognized globally as one of the most delicious recipes around the globe.
A specialty in central Thailand, this is a spicy broth made from a variety of aromatics and fresh herbs and often served with prawns. Lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, red chili peppers, galangal and fish sauce give this intensely flavorful soup a tart and hot flavor, while still fresh.
A dozen variations exist, depending on the main ingredients and protein used, from chicken to pork.
Thailand is well known for its curries, but don’t think for a moment they’re the same as Indian curries; Thai curries are thinner and look more like soup, they always contain coconut milk too.
Green, yellow and red curries are popular in the country; for us, Gaeng Daeng, or the red curry is beyond compare. Red curry paste, made with red chili, shrimp paste, garlic, shallots, and many other aromatic herbs and spices give this curry a spicy but comforting taste.
Thailand’s signature dish. Today pad thai is made all around the world and in Thailand it’s very popular with both locals and tourists. Rice noodles are stir-fried with egg, tofu, tamarind sauce, chili, garlic and shallots, amongst other ingredients.
Diverse proteins, from shrimp to crab or chicken, make the dish a complete meal. Often served as street food, there’s no Thai restaurant without pad thai on their menu.
Every Asian culture has a signature rice recipe. For Thailand, it’s khao pad. Fried rice with shrimp paste, topped with shrimp, chicken or glazed pork, this dish has everything. The flavors are harmonized with aromatics, fruit and vegetables, adding distinct layers of appreciation.
This might look like a messy dish, everything stirred together, but that’s where it’s magic comes from.
Gaeng Keow Wan Kai
Another tremendous Thai curry, the green curry with chicken is on another level. The coconut milk gives a creaminess to a sweet and leafy dish.
Thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, and a complex green curry paste, make this sauce an all-rounder. Traditionally served with hand-rolled fish balls, the chicken version is a real treat.
Mainly served on the streets, Mu ping is grilled pork meat skewers. The meat is often marinated with coconut milk, garlic, herbs and spices before being tossed over a coal-fired grill. Mu ping is served with glutinous rice and a spicy dipping sauce that makes the dish a sensory explosion.
Because no dinner is complete without a sweet bite, the glutinous rice with mango, commonly known as mango sticky rice is a Thai specialty. Usually eaten in spring, when mangos ripen. This treat is made with sticky rice, coconut milk, palm sugar and mango. Sweet without being cloying, it’s incredibly tasty, so save room for dessert.