We are firm believers that when you travel to Thailand you should bring an open mind and a big appetite and delve into the delights of Thai food. But with so many amazing dishes waiting to be enjoyed, where do you start? To help with this delicious dilemma, we asked our followers on social media for their favourite Thai dishes. Ranking the dishes in order of preference was an almost impossible task so we’ve shown them here in alphabetical order.
1) Gaeng khiao wan (green curry)
Green curry is one of the best known Thai dishes and a firm favourite at Thai restaurants in the UK and Ireland. Although gaeng khiao wan originates from Central Thailand, you can find it at restaurants across Thailand. Chicken (gai) is the most commonly used main ingredient and in Thai culture, kaeng khiao wan gai is served as part of a shared meal rather than an individual dish.
2) Gaeng massaman (massaman curry)
Whether you prefer it served with beef or chicken, massaman curry always seems to make an appearance when people are asked for their favourite Thai dishes. And if you selected massaman curry as your favourite Thai dish you are in good company because CNN Travel nominated it as the number one dish in their 2020 list of ‘The World’s 50 Best Foods‘.
3) Gaeng pet (red curry)
Thai red curry (gaeng pet) tantalises the taste buds and provides a feast for the eyes. As with green curry, you can find this dish at restaurants throughout Thailand with different chefs having their own approach on how to prepare it. Chicken is often used as the main ingredient, but you can also find it with beef, duck or seafood.
4) Gai pad med mamuang himmapan (stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts)
More commonly referred to as gai pad med mamuang or simply gai pad med, this is a dish full of flavour. And with colourful ingredients like dried red chillies, yellow peppers and green peppers, it’s a dish with visual appeal too.
5) Gai yang (grilled chicken)
A simple, but classic dish, gai yang is often cooked on homemade griddles and coated with the cook’s preferred marinade to give the meat a rich flavour and deep colour. Usually accompanied by two types of dipping sauce; nam jim gai (sweet chilli), and nam jim jaew, a zingy concoction which includes lime, fish sauce and chillies. The classic combination of grilled chicken, som tam and sticky rice makes for a wonderful meal that is a particular favourite associated with the Isaan region of North-East Thailand.
6) Jok (rice porridge)
A comforting bowl of hot jok in the early morning is the ideal way to set you up for a day of sightseeing in Thailand. Pork is usually the main protein added to the porridge with the addition of a soft-boiled egg before the jok is topped with ginger and onions.
7) Khao niao mamuang (sticky rice with mango)
Sticky rice and mango is another simple dish that can be eaten for breakfast, after a meal or as a standalone treat at any time of the day. Served with a drizzle of coconut cream and a sprinkling of crispy yellow mung beans, khao niao mamuang is as popular with Thai people as it is for overseas visitors.
8) Khao pad (fried rice)
A filling one-plate dish ideal for solo diners, khao pad (fried rice) can be served with chicken (gai), pork (moo), shrimps (kung) or poo (crab). It’s also a dish that’s suitable for someone who isn’t so keen on spicy foods or is just gently weaning their way into eating Thai food. While the dish is plain, the ever present table condiments like nam prik pla can be added to suit individual tastes.
9) Khao soi (northern curry noodles)
Northern Thailand’s signature dish of khao soi is a welcome inclusion in our list of favourite Thai dishes. This deliciously addictive dish is a blend of soft and crispy noodles served with a curry broth and a choice of chicken, pork or beef. Although it’s closely associated with Chiang Mai, you can find khao soi throughout North Thailand in destinations including Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lampang and Nan.
Laab is a quintessential Isaan dish. Spicy and packed with flavour, it’s a type of meat salad that is usually made with minced pork. Laab moo is seasoned with chilli flakes, lime juice, fish sauce and the all-important toasted sticky rice. Fresh herbs balance out the flavours and give the dish added bite and texture.
11) Pad kaprao moo (stir fried pork with holy basil)
A go-to food for many Thai people, pad kaprao moo is a classic street food dish. This is Thai comfort food at its best and a dish you will see at hawker stalls and restaurants across the country. Whether you prefer it with moo (pork) or gai (chicken), most pad kaprao fans will agree that it is the addition of the fried egg (khai dao) on top that can make or break this dish.
12) Pad pak ruam (stir fried mixed vegetables)
13) Pad see ew (stir fried wide noodles)
Unlike pad Thai which uses thinner noodles, the main ingredient in pad see ew is wide rice noodles (sen yai). The noodles are fried with chicken, pork or beef together with Chinese broccoli and garlic. For those who like spice in their food, dry chilli flakes can be added from the table condiments.
14) Pad Thai (fried noodles)
One of the most popular dishes for overseas visitors, pad Thai makes for a satisfying lunch or brunch. Versions of this classic dish include chicken or pork, but it is arguably the fresh shrimp version – pad Thai kung sod – which is the best. Traditionally made with flat rice noodles (sen Chan) from Chanthaburi province, the noodles are fried with a combination of bean sprouts, tofu and peanuts. Squeeze lime over the top to enhance the flavour and enjoy this tasty treat.
Thailand’s national dish
Pad Thai is known as the national dish of Thailand. A version of this noodle dish was thought to have been introduced to Thailand (then known as Siam) centuries ago by Chinese or Vietnamese traders. The local people then adapted it to their tastes with the addition of homegrown ingredients. But it was after the Second World War when the dish really gained in popularity across Thailand. In those post-war years, the production and sale of rice noodles was promoted by the Thai government as a patriotic venture and led to the humble noodle dish being labelled pad Thai.
15) Roti (Thai-style pancakes)
Originally introduced to Thailand by Indian immigrants, the roti can be eaten as a dessert with a sweet filling or served plain as an accompaniment to savoury curry dishes. The wonderful thing about rotis is that you get to enjoy not only the taste, but also the enjoyment of watching the cook at work as they skilfully create the dish. The video below shows Auntie Day making her Michelin recommended rotis at her Roti Pa Day stall on Thapae Road, Chiang Mai.
16) Satay (grilled meat skewers)
Grilled meat skewers marinated with spices and served with a dipping sauce can be a tasty snack or enjoyed as part of a larger meal. Whether you prefer beef, chicken or pork satay, these little skewers of scrumptiousness are always worth seeking out.
17) Som tam (spicy papaya salad)
Spicy papaya salad is a real taste of Thailand and undoubtedly one of the country’s best-loved dishes. Although som tam is associated with Isaan and North-East Thailand, it can be found in all regions of the country. Unripe green papaya is mixed with a number of other ingredients including chillies, dried shrimps, green beans, peanuts and tomatoes. For a classic Isaan combination, eat som tam with sticky rice and grilled chicken.
Try this som tam recipe
18) Tom kha gai (coconut soup with chicken and galangal)
19) Tom yum kung (hot and sour shrimp soup)
Tom yum kung doesn’t just taste good, it also does you good as well. Shrimps (kung) are an excellent source of protein and the vegetables in the soup are packed with vitamins. Lemongrass and lime both aid digestion and help to fight against colds while chillies help to burn fat.
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, check out our Eat Thai Visit Thai food section for more inspiration.
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