Thai cuisine is one of the largest and most abundant cuisines in East Asia. Featuring a distinct flavor and a variety of ingredients and spices combined together to make a dish, Thai food promises to satisfy your appetite and makes you taste once more.
It’s better to have an overall view of Thai cuisine as well as its popular dishes if you plan to travel, work, study there, or have chances to enjoy meals at a Thai restaurant. Keep scrolling to know more!
Thai food culture
In Thai culture, food isn’t just a source of nutrition taken to survive, more than that, it is an essential part in any social events. In other words, food becomes the reason to celebrate occasions.
1. Origin of Thai food
Back to the early 13th century, the Thai people had created the recipe of using vegetables, herbs and spices like garlic and pepper to cook various types of meat and seafood. This recipe has been adapted until these days.
There are three main contributors of the distinct taste of Thai food. First is the heavy influence of Indian spices and flavors, especially in curry dishes. Second is the use of local spices and ingredients, like holy basil and lemongrass. And, the last is the influence from nearby countries, such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.
2. Eating manners
When eating, the Thai use their own tool, called Thai cutlery. Generally, it is the combo of a fork hold in the left hand and a spoon held in the right hand, supposed to be the place of the knife in Western cutlery.
It’s worth mentioning that Thais eat a single dish at a time, along with a mound of rice. They do not place different kinds of food on their plates and leave any food after the meal is completed.
3. Foods serving
In Thailand, a traditional family meal must contain 4 tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. The combination of the four is the best of all.
When having meals outside, the Thai prefer meats and fishes as main courses and vegetables, a noodle, or soup as side dishes. They have fresh fruits, like pineapples or colorful rice cakes for dessert.
Additionally, Thai cuisine has made a good worldwide reputation for its abundance of street food. Walking along any roadside or marketplace, you can have your belly filled and taste buds teased with these delicious foods.
4. Food presentation
Originating from the Siam dynasty, food garnish is an important aspect in Thai food culture. It requires the creativeness and cleverness of the chefs who are in charge of turning the original fruit and vegetables into delicate and intricate carvings.
Top 13 popular foods
The list below is15 foods that are recommended by natives, foreign tourists and travel websites. It includes both of street foods and those served as main course at restaurants. Give it a look!
1. Green Chicken Curry
The first food in the list must come to green chicken curry. It’s a tasty mix of chicken, which of course is the main ingredient, coconut milk, onions, lime leaves, basil leaves and green curry paste (in Thai style). This dish promises to tease your taste buds.
2. Chicken Satay
Being one of the most preferred street foods by kids and adult alike, chicken satay is definitely worth mentioning. Paired with peanut sauce, this street food can make you fall in love right with the first try.
3. Khao Klukh Krapi (rice with shrimp paste)
As one of traditional dishes, Khao Klukh Krapi appears on any social events of Thai people. It’s made of rice, shrimp paste, garlic, lemon, prawns, and some slices of omelet and cucumbers to garnish.
4. Guay Jab (Thick crunchy pork soup)
Other Thai popular food is Guay Jab. It is a thick crunchy pork soup made of wide rice noodles that look like one-inch cigar, crispy pork skin, lungs, tongue and green onions. It’s also a popular street food in Thailand.
5. Kao Niew Ma Muang (mango sticky rice)
Kao Niew Ma Muang, yellow mango with sticky rice is among most favorite street foods in Thailand. Its ingredients are simple: some slices of super sweet mango and sticky rice topped with coconut cream syrup.
6. Larb Moo (minced pork salad)
As a spicy minced pork salad, Larb Moo is often eaten with rice. It’s a delicious mix of minced pork, fresh herbs, fish sauce and lime juice to add a better taste. It’s interesting that the larb can be replaced by other meats like chicken, beef and catfish.
7. Massaman Curry
Massaman, a Thai Muslim curry is also a worth-trying dish due to its national popularity. It’s traditionally made of chicken, coconut flavors, tamarind, potatoes and massaman curry paste. Tease your taste buds with this!
8. Thai Fish Green Curry
Other curry dish in the list is fish green curry. Fish is simmered in broth made of coconut milk, green curry paste and spices. This delicious food is highly recommended to eat with rice to satisfy your appetite and fill your stomach at the same time.
9. Yum Talay (Spicy Seafood Salad)
If you prefer a healthy meal with fresh seafood, Yum Talay is relatively a good choice. It is a spicy seafood salad made of squid, shrimp, mussels, scallops and crabmeat or just some of them. Onions, herbs, tomato and pepper are added in for a better flavor.
10. Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
Tom Yum Goong is one of typical food of Thai cuisine. It’s the result of combing various ingredients for flavor, including lemongrass, chilli, galangal, kaffier lime leaves, shallots, fresh limejuice and plenty of fish sauce.
11. Gai Pad King (ginger chicken)
Gai Pad king features the use of grated ginger in a huge amount. It’s cooked with, boneless chicken, various mushrooms, onions, chilies and oyster sauce seasoned to perfection.
12. Kai Med Ma Muang (chicken with cashew nuts)
Both of locals and foreigners love Kai Med Ma Muang, a delicious mixture of stir-fried chicken, cashew nuts, soy sauce, honey, and a variety of vegetables like onions, chilies, pepper, and mushrooms.
13. Cha Yen (Thai tea)
Although Cha Yen is just a drink but it’s a “must-eat” food when visiting Thailand. Cha Yen is actually a sweet milk tea sold at all coffee stalls, drink stands or restaurants in Bangkok.
14. Pad Thai
Pad Thai is definitely worth mentioning as a popular Thai food. Featuring flat noodles accompanied by tofu, eggs, bean sprouts and sauces, it can be served a complete meal and a dessert as well. It’s not only a national popular dish but it’s also a favorite street food that can satisfy the requirements of strict dieters, like vegetarian and vegan.
15. Som Tam/ Papaya salad
If you walk around Thai street food corners, you should give Som Tam a try. It’s a papaya salad that offers four main seasonings at a time: sour, spicy, salty and sweet. For this reason, Som Tam is much loved by kids and adults, natives and foreigners alike.
Following the development of tourism, Thai cuisine has successfully made a direct and effective way to spread over neighboring countries and even Western countries. It can satisfy your appetite even when you are a healthy eater, dieter, vegetarian or vegan.