Foods to Try on Your Thailand Holiday

Many reasons exist to visit Thailand: the beauty, the weather, and the unique culture.  However, of particular significance is its unique cuisine.  Thai dishes are wonderfully complex, centred on the Thai version of the “five tastes” of Japanese cuisine.

The unique combination of sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and bitter notes produce a culinary tradition full of unique curries, soups, luncheon foods, and desserts.  Venturing out from western favourites, the best way to truly experience Thailand is to immerse oneself in the local dishes and the people that make them.

Thai Curries: A Unique Blend of Flavours

 Distinct from Indian curry, Southern Thai curry traditionally combines turmeric and coconut milk with a unique spice blend.  Often served with Khamom Chin—locally-produced fermented rice noodles—true Thai curries are a treat to behold.

Green curry, or Kaeng Keow Wan, is a popular staple dish combining chicken, coconut milk, turmeric, green curry paste, bamboo shoots, basil, eggplant, lime leaves, and lemongrass.  For those that enjoy sweet curries, Kaeng Massaman’s mixture of red curry paste, peanuts, coconut milk, chicken, potatoes, cinnamon, and nutmeg will not disappoint.  Another red curry, Kaeng Daeng, combines southern Thai curry with the flavours of the north, creating a delicious balance.  Look for curries with locally-caught seafood, as green curries pair particularly well with shrimp.

Popular Soups in Thailand

 Thai cuisine produces excellent soups, which are sold inexpensively at many restaurants.  The classic soup Tom Yum Goong, or spicy shrimp soup, represents the true tastes of Thailand: chili sauce, shrimp, lime leaves, lemongrass, shallots, fish sauce, and galangal.

Often combined with mushrooms for extra body or coconut milk for creaminess, Tom Yum Goong is both delicious and comforting.   Another soup to look for is Kuai-Tao Nam, combining the Thai Sen Yai wide rice noodles with numerous other ingredients, resulting in a “chef’s special” type of dish.

 Lunch Options in Bangkok and Other Cities

 Salads are a common luncheon item in Thailand.  Given the climate, the country produces excellent fresh produce, and their luncheon salads reflect this tradition.  One common salad is Yam Nua, often referred to as simply “Yam” when ordering; a bed of greens, cucumber, onion, coriander, spearmint, and lime that is topped with spicy beef strips.

In lieu of salad dressing, nearly every meal in Thailand is served with Phrik Nam Pla, a condiment dip made out of fish sauce, garlic, chilies, and lime.  Because the flavour of Thai salads is both refreshing and full-bodied, adding additional flavouring may not be necessary. While Thai salads are quite delicious, the best lunch foods sold in Thailand are found at local carts around Bangkok and other major cities.  The variety found at these food carts is quite staggering, but the most common dish is the infamous Pad Thai, a combination of protein, peanuts, bean sprouts, green onions, garlic, fish sauce, and, occasionally, a scrambled egg.

Branching out from this lunch classic, there are numerous other dishes worth trying.  Gai Pad King, a ginger-heavy stir-fry of chicken, onions, mushrooms, and oyster sauce, is a choice that can be found in nearly every southern Thai city.  For those that would like pork instead of chicken or tofu, Pad See Eiu is a simple dish combining Chinese broccoli, garlic, and egg with pork strips and dark soy sauce.

Grabbing Dessert in Thailand

 Craving something sweet? Thailand offers a great many desserts to complete the evening meal.  Among the most famous is mango with sticky rice, or Khao Niao Mamuang, pairing fresh mango with a sticky rice pudding made with coconut milk.  For those desiring a cold treat, Chaokuai pairs shaved ice with brown sugar and grass jelly for a uniquely Thai flavour.

Fans of Red Bull will enjoy Krating Dang, the original version of the popular energy drink.  If nothing else, take advantage of the wide variety of unique fruits available in Thailand as a dessert option.  Mangosteen, fresh lychee, pomelo, rose apples, and langsat are all fruits to try when visiting Thailand.

The culinary diversity available in Thailand is just one of the many reasons to visit this vibrant, unique nation.  Whether your reasons for visiting this country involve culinary adventures or enjoying the warm weather, booking one of the many cheap flights to Bangkok is great way to get started on an adventurous holiday abroad.

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