This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg.
After (hopefully) making you all hungry with delicious foodstuffs from my recent trip to Laos, I wanted to share foods from its neighbor, Thailand. Though the countries share a common religion and border, their foods differ prominantly, especially considering the huge differences between foods from the North and South of Thailand itself. Here are some of my favorite eats from Thailand, a short set of photos from what is actually a ridiculously long list of “things that taste awesome and are cheap” in this country.
I know the list is not vegetarian-friendly, but when I post about foods from Jordan I promise I’ll make up for it!
Made from unripe, green papaya, long green beans, tomatos and much more, dressed with a sweet, fishy dressing and topped with peanuts, this is one of the best salads to eat with sticky rice and grilled pork. It’s spicy and sweet all at once and I’ve found that no somtam tastes the same – which just means you need to try it all.
2. Pad Pongali
This is a tough dish to find but when you do, it’s well worth it. Made from a succulent combination of chicken, celery root, onions and green or red peppers and seasoned with a dry yellow curry, it is topped with eggs and served over rice. When I do find this dish (mostly in the central or southern part of Thailand), I am one happy lady.
3. Tom Yum Goong
This spicy Thai soup with shrimp is a very different taste than what we’re used to in North America, combining sweet and sour and salty so well that it will ruin your tastebuds forever (in the best way possible). With coconut milk as its base, this creamy soup includes shrimp and vegetables and is flavored with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal root, among other things. Delicious.
4. Gai Yang
Grilled chicken, juicy and marinated to perfection made on everything from huge grills to tiny mobile BBQ stations throughout Thailand. The same carts will usually have grilled pork on offer and in the north, Northern Thai sausage too. Don’t forget to pick up some sticky rice to go with it!
5. Khao Soi
A northern Thai soup made with egg noodles, a creamy, spicy coconut broth with chicken, crispy egg noodles on top and served with fun garnish like pickled vegetables, lime and chili. It’s everywhere in Northern Thailand, and as with somtam each vendor makes their own version of the soup. Excellent to try at markets, crammed into tiny plastic food tables and slurping away for $1 a piece.
6. Pad Thai
The classic. If you go to Thailand, you ought to try it at least once, since it’s what has been most thoroughly imported to the Western world. However, it’s best tried at tiny street stalls or marketside restaurants, made in a wok on the spot and served piping hot. With its sweet pasted and salty tofu and dried shrimp, these thicker rice noodles are topped with dried shrimp and green onions and served with lime on the side. Don’t forget to add some chilis – this is a dish best served spicy!
7. Khao Ka Moo
This pork dish is braised all day in a constantly steaming sweet soy broth and when finally served it melts in your mouth (and is ridiculously good). Served over white rice with a cured egg on the side, it’s one of the more satisfying meals Thailand has to offer, and is available throughout the country.
8. Khao pad naem
A Northern Thai dish made with fermented sausage and vermicelli noodles, red and green peppers galore and onions, served over rice this is one of those things that sounds odd but tastes delicious. Found in the night markets of Chiang Mai, it’s a nice change from the heavier pork dishes and soups on offer.
And some desserts!
9. Khao Niew Ma Muang
Sticky rice and mango, one of the more popular things to try dessertwise and rarely disappoints. It’s a ripe mango over sticky rice, topped with a sticky, sweet coconut cream sauce. Available everywhere, from restaurants to street stalls to mobile carts and best during mango season (late winter – early summer months).
10. Itim Kati
Coconut ice cream, filled with smaller bits of coconuts and served in a half-coconut shell. Grand total for the ice cream in this photo? 80 cents. They also serve this ice cream in a sandwich, with 2 pieces of white bread and – ingeniously- some sticky rice at the bottom to try and keep the ice cream drippings from falling out of the sandwich.
It was hard to narrow things down for this short list, and though I’d love to include green and red curries and some other great noodles, these are the foods that I enjoyed the most in my months here. (All photos are from my time in Thailand – you can tell I do like the foods here, just a little!)