Whether youâ€™re planning a trip to the country or you just want to look like a savvy foodie the next time you hit up your neighborhood Thai restaurant, hereâ€™s what you need to know about eating in Thailand.
Thai cuisine varies depending on where you are in the country. There are primarily four different regions known for their unique flavors and dishes: Southern, Central, Northeastern and Northern Thailand.
When traveling through the south, the dishes tend to be extremely spicy, with coconut and fish taking center stage. Central Thai cuisine most closely resembles the food youâ€™ll find at Thai restaurants around the world. Northeast Thailand is where Thailandâ€™s iconic papaya salad originates. Finally, Northern Thailand (which is more mountainous) tends to have lots of pork, vegetables and sticky rice.
Must-Try Dishes In Thailand
Now that youâ€™re a bit more savvy to which dishes youâ€™ll find where here are our top picks for must-eats throughout the country:
1. KÃ´w soy
This delicious noodle soup is best sampled in Chiang Mai. Egg noodles, pickled vegetables, shallots, chilis and lime combine in a rich curry broth. Try it at Suthatsinee Kitchen, one of the oldest kÃ´w soy vendors in Chiang Mai.
2. Khanom jeen nam ngiaw
Itâ€™s a mouthful to say, but this meaty noodle dish is well worth the effort to order. Itâ€™s a specialty of the north and often found alongside kÃ´w soy. The hearty meal typically includes rice noodles, chunks of beef or pork, tomatoes, spices and garlic.
3. Massaman curry
One of our favorite curries, Massaman is traditionally a southern Thai recipe. The hearty curry features coconut milk, cashews, potatoes and cinnamon. Itâ€™s commonly ordered with chicken and a side of rice.
4. Tom yum gung
This hot and sour Thai soup isnâ€™t for everyoneâ€”we found that even when we ordered it â€˜not spicy,â€™ we were guzzling water to keep from crying. But the seafood soup is undeniably delicious, with shrimp, lemongrass, lime and chili.
5. Jim jum
This Thai style hot-pot is best enjoyed with a group of friends. Spices and broth are simmered in a small clay pot over a charcoal fire. Drop your meat and vegetables into the pot, then when ready, devour with one of the accompanying spicy peanut sauces.
6. Pad ga pow moo kai dow
If youâ€™re craving vibrant and flavorful stir fried meat and veggies, then this is the dish for you. Enjoy it with rice and a fried egg at any restaurant that is busy with local patrons.
Of course, you wonâ€™t want to miss the classic green papaya salad, pad thai, mango sticky rice and spring rolls while youâ€™re in Thailand, either. But add a few of these dishes to your culinary repertoire for the ultimate Thai taste-testing adventure.
Note that most Thai dishes contain fish sauce, oyster sauce and/or MSG for flavoring. The first ingredient can make it difficult to get pure vegetarian or vegan cuisine, though we will say itâ€™s not impossible. As to the MSG, we wonâ€™t go into the studies on whether or not itâ€™s actually bad for you, but do know that itâ€™s there
By A Cruising Couple
Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple – adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog, http://acruisingcouple.com.