Here Are the 28 Best Thai Food Dishes to Try -
1. Tom Yum Goong - Spicy Thai Soup with Shrimps and Herbs
This list couldn't start off with anything else but Tom Yum. Tom Yum soup is one of the most popular defining features of Thai food. Its most loved variation is Tom Yum Goong, which is a hot and sour soup dish chocked with spices, shrimp, vegetables and herbs. One serving is quite filling, given its numerous ingredients, but it is so delicious that just one serving will not suffice, and you will be compelled to take a second helping. Every spoon packs a flavourful punch, and what's more, it is extremely healthy. It is made from the goodness of shrimp, mushrooms, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed chilli peppers, all mixed together in a light watery broth making it one of the most loved foods from Thailand globally. The USP of this dish is its zesty spiciness, but you can also ask for a mild version that contains coconut milk. And if you can't have enough of it, you can also buy the Tom Yum paste, which is easily available in markets, and give it a homemade twist.
2. Som Tam - Green Papaya Salad
Green papaya salad, locally known as Som Tum, is one of Thailand's most prized culinary creations. It is spicy, made from shreds of unripe papaya combined with an assortment of vegetables and other ingredients. It contains a potpourri of spicy, sour, chilli and sweet tastes. All the condiments, garlic, chillies, green beans, cherry tomatoes and shredded raw papaya are pounded using a mortar and pestle, enhancing each ingredient's individual flavour. The raw papaya, however, remains crunchy, lending the meal an interesting and fun texture. The dish has a distinctive tangy taste typical of Thai food that has the ability to please even foreign taste buds. You can find many variations of this dish across the country, some with dry shrimp, salted crab and sausages, and others with peanuts, asparagus beans and Thai eggplant. This is a major staple food of Thailand as it is easy to make and easier to enjoy.
3. Khao Phat - Thai Fried Rice
A type of Thai fried rice, Khao Phat is one of the most famous foods from Thailand, finding its place amongst the must-haves of the world. It is superior in taste to plain ol' fried rice and, needless to say, is a national favourite. It can be had at any time of day and is so delectable that it is often eaten as a standalone dish without any sides. It makes use of Thai jasmine rice which has a pleasant aroma. Other ingredients include meats (chicken, shrimp, crab, pork), egg, onions, garlic, tomatoes, spring onions and lime. Khao Phat is seasoned with sauces and pastes of many kinds, the most common being soy sauce, chilli sauce and fish sauce. This food from Thailand has many variants, especially in the Southeast Asian countries, such as the khao phat maphrao (coconut fried rice), khao phat kaphrao (basil fried rice), khao phat mu (pork fried rice) and khao khluk kapi (fried rice with shrimp paste). Khao Phat is the best example of a convenient dish that doesn't compromise on taste.
4. Gaeng Keow Wan Gai - Thai Green Curry
If you haven't tried gaeng keow wan gai, have you even really tried Thai food? Gaeng Keow Wan Gai, or Thai green curry, is an unmissable part of the food in Thailand. It derives its name from the green colour of its curry and is relatively milder in nature than its red counterpart. Its coconut milk and green chilli base complement each other, producing a lovely spiced dish. Gaeng Keow Wan Gai contains an assortment of vegetables like Thai eggplant, pea aubergine, and other green vegetables, and meats like fish balls, beef and chicken. Several sauces also go into making this dish, ranging from green curry paste (made from herbs like lemongrass, kaffir lime, coriander, garlic, cumin) to fish sauce. The end result is a creamy, thick soup that tastes as healthy as it looks. Green curry is best paired with rice, or eaten as a dish of noodles called khanom chin.
5. Chim Chum - Hotpot of Meat and Vegetables
This dish is as fascinating as its name. Chim Chum is a popular street food of Thailand, that is enjoyed in many parts of Southeast Asia. Interestingly, the name of this Thai food derives from its method of cooking and eating. Chim refers to dipping, while Chum refers to dripping something swiftly in broth. Walking down the lanes of Thailand, it is hard to miss the preparation of Chim Chum, since it is cooked in a burning clay pot atop a traditional charcoal stove. The broth is flavourful, made using stock, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime and basil. Once the broth is ready, vegetables and meat (usually pork) are added one by one and allowed to cook for not more than a couple of minutes. Along with glass noodles, the meat can then be dipped into the nam chim (special sauce) and consumed instantly for a wholesome meal that you won't be able to get enough of, making it a must-have food in Thailand.
6. Khao Niew Moo Yang - Thai Style Grilled Pork and Sticky Rice
Undeniably among the most popular street food in Thailand, Khao Niew Moo Yang is the perfect option to grab a bite on the go. It is a simple combination dish of Thai-style grilled pork and sticky rice. The pork, poked with skewers, is very tasty, marinated first in coconut milk, coriander, pepper, garlic, fish sauce, lemongrass and palm sugar, and then grilled to perfection. Even though it is without gravy, the delicacy has a pleasant pop of flavour that goes well with rice. The meat has a mild taste, which is why it is sometimes complemented with the fiery nam jim jeaw sauce. In many places, Moo Yang, or the dry grilled pork, is also enjoyed all by itself without a side of rice. You can find Khao Niew Moo Yang almost everywhere in Thailand, starting from prices as low as THB 5 to THB 10, making it the ultimate go-to appetiser and favourite Thai food.
7. Yam Nua - Beef Salad
Yam Nua is a simple beef salad preparation that will be the perfect companion for you and your beer on a warm summer day. It is available in many restaurants and street stalls in Thailand, but you can even enjoy it within the comfortable confines of your home because the recipe to make it is very easy. This spicy beef salad is made using every type of flavour you can imagine, from tangy to saucy to hot to sour and so on. Different places serving Yam Nua use different herbs and condiments to make it. Still, the basic seasonings involved are lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, cilantro, mint, lettuce, cucumber, garlic and Thai chillies. As with most Thai food, this salad too contains a generous portion of fish sauce (nam pla) which adds a little tasteful pungency to the flavour. Not to forget the main ingredient, the juicy chunks of steak, make up the main part of the salad, dripping with sauces and savoury tastes that will give you a gastronomic high.
8. Pad Thai - Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Meat and Vegetables
A signature food of Thailand, Pad Thai noodles are commonly found on menus across the world today. So when in Thailand, you cannot afford to miss out on a plate of this dish prepared the authentic Thai way. The best part about this delicacy is that you cannot go wrong with it because it is highly convenient and can be adjusted according to your likes and preferences. It primarily consists of stir-fried rice noodles garnished with a plethora of local flavours and ingredients that will delight your palate. Things that go into making these noodles are wide-ranging, from tamarind pulp, fish sauce, turnips, garlic, shallots, red chilli pepper, palm sugar, and lime to roasted peanuts. More often than not, the noodle dish also contains one or more kinds of meat, like shrimp, crab, squid and chicken. Though every restaurant menu lists this item, the best types of Pad Thai are available at inexpensive street food stalls. Often featured among the most delicious dishes in the world, Pad Thai noodles are a hard-miss food in Thailand.
9. Larb Muang Moo - Northern Thai Style Chopped Pork Salad
Larb Muang Moo, also known as Laap, is a spicy meat salad, most popular in the northeastern regions of Thailand. It originates from Laos, but its popularity has now spread to many countries in Asia, where several variations of it are consumed. The most essential part of Thai Larb is the range of spices, known collectively as phrik lap, used in making it. These dried spices range from cumin, cloves, long pepper, star anise, prickly ash seeds to cinnamon, creating a wonderful blast of flavours in the Larb salad. The salad comes with choices of minced meats like chicken, pork, duck and beef. Sometimes, the animal's blood, fat, kidney, etc., may be used in the salad to give it an extra edge, and while it may be an alien concept to foreigners, this special preparation of Larb is relished as a food in Thailand. Larb salad is a dynamic dish and can be coupled with anything from rice noodles and sticky rice to raw vegetables.
10. Khao Niao Ma Muang - Mango Sticky Rice
Every meal should be finished off on a sweet note. Khao Niao Ma Muang is one of Thailand's most beloved dessert dishes and a common household name. It is known in English as mango-sticky rice, owing to the two main ingredients used to prepare this dish. Its simple and unusual combination is what catches the foreign eye first, followed by its captivating yumminess making it a must-have food in Thailand. It is a no-frills, traditional Thai dessert made of glutinous rice, mangoes, and coconut milk. The method of cooking it is quite easy, which is one of the reasons for its popularity, aside from its heavenly taste. The sticky rice is cooked and then left to rest, mixed with sweet coconut milk. The rice absorbs the milk and is served with peeled slices/pieces of mango on the side. Khao Niao Ma Muang is best enjoyed fresh after preparation, which is when all the sweet and sticky goodness is at its peak.
11. Khao Soi - Northern Thai Noodle Soup
This dish is widely served in parts of Myanmar, Laos, and Northern Thailand and is considered a signature dish abundantly found on Thai streets. The name means ‘cut rice’, possibly from the Burmese word for noodles, ‘Khao Swe’. Khao Soi is actually a curry recipe made with egg noodles cooked in coconut milk with an intense mixture of curry paste that usually includes chillies, cilantro, garlic and more. Large sheets of beautifully seasoned noodles are cut into fine flat noodles and then added to coconut milk broth, which has already been infused with the curry paste and other ingredients that usually vary from chef to chef. There are usually two versions of Khao Soi, the Lao Khao Soi, which generally uses pork and the Northern Thai Khao Soi, which uses chicken or beef as it is said to have been influenced by Chinese Muslims.
12. Pad See Ew - Stir Fried Noodles in Soy Sauce
Considered to be one of the best Thai fast foods, Pad See Ew is right up there with all the other Thai noodles. The dish comes together easily if all the ingredients are prepared ahead of time. This chewy, delicious street food is really popular among tourists and locals alike. The dish is actually a Chinese-influenced stir-fried noodle, and the name roughly translates to ‘fried soy sauce’. The dish is made by immersing extra thick rice noodles in a mixture of sweet and savoury sauce made from soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. You can actually whip up the whole thing in under 20 minutes, and is one of the reasons why people on the go prefer it the most.
13. Massaman Curry - Fusion of Indian and Thai Flavours
Usually found in authentic Thai restaurants, this curry dish is one of the more rich but milder Thai dishes that is said to have taken inspiration from Malay and Indian cuisine due to its extravagant mixture of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves, nutmeg (which are usually not used in Thai curries) and locally sourced chilli peppers, lemongrass, white peppers and more which is made into the Massaman paste. This paste is then fried over the coconut cream and various other ingredients for an exquisite flavor. Made with all kinds of meats but rarely pork, as some cite there are Muslim roots to the dish. So, it isn’t surprising to know that this dish was even included in CNNGo’s article ‘World’s 50 most delicious foods’ for its amazing texture and flavor.
14. Pla Pao - Salt Grilled Fish
Pla Pao is an authentic Thai dish that is grilled in plain and simple spices. The flavours just naturally seep and mix into the fish and taste amazing. Usually, a thick layer of salt covers the whole fish so that the flesh inside stays moist and succulent throughout the grilling process, this method is considered the Thai process of grilling. If eaten along with a garlic chilli dip, it’s a whole another experience. This dish can be found on the streets as well as Thai restaurants and is one of the most popular dishes among the locals. The dish is relatively really easy to prepare and well, even easier to eat. If cooked and served properly, the fillet should slide right off the skin and bones. If you’re still not sold on the dish, you will be once you hear its price because it is that cheap in the streets.
15. Tom Kha Gai - Chicken Coconut Soup
Also known as Chicken coconut soup, Tom Kha Gai originated in Thailand. The main ingredients used for making this dish are chicken and coconut milk. The other ingredients are ginger (peeled), lime leaves, chicken broth, fish sauce, lemongrass, and chilli oil. It is prepared by adding chicken to the boil, which is made up of lemongrass, broth, lime leaves, and ginger. Also, ingredients such as mushrooms, and simmer are added to the boil. After the chicken is well cooked, you can add fish sauce, sugar, and coconut milk, and your dish is ready to be served. In different countries, Tom Kha Gai is served with various other proteins such as - seafood, mushrooms, pork, and tofu.
16. Kuay Teow Reua - Rice Boat Noodles
Kuay Teow Reua is a noodle-based soup dish which are known as Thai Boat Noodles. Its name is derived from Bangkok, where it was served on the boats along the canals. The meat broth is the essential ingredient required while cooking these noodles. Other ingredients needed to make these noodles are dry rice noodles, spinach, bean sprouts, marinated pork, beef, pork blood, garlic oil, fried garlic, chilli vinegar, chilli flakes, green basic, and Thai Basil. To prepare this dish, you need to boil onions, pandan leaves, water, cilantro roots, cinnamon, coriander leaves, lemongrass, and garlic. After you have prepared the boil to add chicken to it and cook for 2 hours and your noodles are ready.
17. Roti Gluay - Fried Banana Pancakes
Roti Gulay or fried banana pancakes is one of the most desserts in Thailand. It is available across Thailand as popular street food. The ingredients are – Bananas, water, sugar, plain flour, ghee, salt, and egg. The first step in preparing this dish is mixing salt, flour and oil in a bowl, and adding water to it. Now cover it and leave it for 3-4 hours. Also, you can keep it in the fridge. Now apply butter to the dough. Now its time to roll it into a bread and place sliced banana inside its centre. After you have done this, fold the sides of the bread and cook it over a pan with ghee. Cook until brown and serve it. It is one of the easiest dishes one can prepare among all the Thai dishes.
18. Yam Talay - Thai Seafood Salad
Moving on to the next dish to have in Thailand, we have Yam Talay. Yam Talay is a popular Thai seafood salad. The ingredients required to prepare the dish are divided into three categories: ingredients for the salad, seafood, and dressing. The ingredients needed for the seafood are mussels, salt, shrimp, sliced squid, sea scallops, crabmeat. For the salad - Boston lettuce, shallot (sliced), thinly sliced scallions, coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, cherry, English cucumber, mint. And finally, for the dressing, the ingredients required are- lime juice, fish sauce, granulated sugar, garlic chopped, green chilis.
19. Gaeng Som - Yellow Curry Soup
As popular as Tom Yum Goong, Gaeng Som is a soup dish in Thailand. The dish has different names in different places, such as yellow curry, in some regions of Thailand. Generally, rice is served alongside this soup. Talking about the ingredients required, they are - fish, green papaya, water, shrimp paste, lime juice, salt, garlic, turmeric, chillies, shallots. To prepare - First heat 3 cups water in a pot. Then add gaeng som curry paste to the boiling water. After the water boils, reduce heat. Now it’s time to add palm sugar, tamarind, fish sauce, and salt to it. After doing this step, add cauliflower and green beans to it. After adding all the above ingredients, put them to boil. After you have kept the water to boil, add mushrooms to it. Now keep it boiling on a medium temperature. After that, add the shrimp and cook till done.
20. Pad Phuk Tong - Stir Fried Pumpkin, Meat and Eggs
Pad Phuk Tong is a fried delicacy of stir-fried pumpkin. To make this dish, you will require vegetable oil, garlic, green onion, vegetable stock or chicken stock, peeled pumpkin, eggs, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and golden mountain seasoning sauce. Preparing it is very easy; at first, you need to heat the oil. After the oil becomes hot, add garlic to it and stir well. You need to stir the mixture till the garlic turns golden brown. Now its time to add meat to it. Then add pumpkin, oyster sauce, sugar, and golden mountain seasoning sauce, stir well, and then cover it for a minimum of 3 minutes. Then add eggs and green onion and stir well while it’s cooking.
21. Pad Pak Boong - Stir Fried Morning Glory
Pad Pak Boong is a stir-fried dish of morning glory. Morning glory, also commonly known as water spinach, is consumed for its leaves and shoots. Albeit an easy dish to prepare, this Thai dish can be hard to find as morning glory is not easy to come by. The ingredients are - morning glory, oyster sauce, soy sauce, garlic, Thai chillies, fish sauce, fermented soya bean paste, pork, vegetable oil, and sugar.
The very first step to prepare the dish is to rinse the morning glory in water. After soaking them in water for some time, take them out and shake them well in order to remove their water and break them. Put the water spinach on a plate and add oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar to it. Then add garlic to it. Now put it in a pan or any such similar utensil to cook it. Once the smoke starts coming out of it, add garlic and chillies and fry for at least 10 seconds. Then add vegetable stock to it and continue frying for a minute or two. Serve it hot; you can prefer having it with steamed jasmine rice.
22. Pad Krapow - Spicy Basil Chicken
Pad Krapow or Phat Kaphrao is one of the most famous dishes in Thailand. It is served with rice and fried eggs and is a popular street dish. The ingredients required to make this dish are- Thai chillies, garlic, eggs, vegetable oil, holy basil leaves, sugar, water, black soy sauce, long beans, red pepper, onion, chicken, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce.
23. Panang - Sweet and Salty Thai Red Curry
Panang, also spelt as Phanaeng or phanang is a type of thick red Thai curry. It is salty and sweet, having a nutty flavour due to the use of peanuts. Panang, having its origins in Thailand, is a simple dish to make. These are the ingredients required to make this curry- baked tofu, brown rice, coconut oil, lime juice, coconut sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, water, regular coconut water, Panang curry paste, garlic, sliced carrots, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, salt, and white onion.
24. Gai Tod - Thai Fried Chicken
Gai Tod or Thai fried chicken is Thailand's take on the ever-popular fried snack around the world. It is one of the most popular street dishes served in Thailand. The speciality of this dish is that it is prepared by marinating chicken wings in rice flour and a local blend of spices. Later it is deep-fried. Talking about the ingredients, you are going to require chicken pieces, garlic, coriander seeds, white pepper, cilantro root, fish sauce, oyster sauce, chilli powder, water, salt, baking soda, wheat flour, and rice flour. Also, you can prefer having Thai sticky rice with it to enhance its taste.
25. Kai Jeow - Thai Style Omlette
This is the other name for the Thai omelette. It is usually preferred as a quick dinner along with some sticky rice. Other variants of Kai Jeow include kai jeow moo sab where the omelette is stuffed with pork. The ingredients to prepare it simply are - vegetable oil, egg, fish sauce, green onion.
26. Bu Pad Pong Karee - Fried Crab Curry
Unique to Thai cuisine, Bu Pad Pong Karee is a curry with stir-fried crab as the main ingredient. Other requirements are - garlic, white onion, jalapeno pepper, crab meat, eggs, Chinese celery leaves, green onions, roasted chilli paste, oyster sauce, thin soy sauce, curry powder, sugar, and milk.
To Prepare - The very first step is to steam the crab for at least half an hour until the meat cooked. To obtain the meat, you need to crack the crab. Now its time to prepare the vegetables. To do this, cut onions, jalapeno peppers, and mince the garlic and green onions. Heat them to a medium temperature and add canola or any other flavoured oil. Cook until the vegetables are slightly translucent. Now its time to move to the next step. In this step, you need to add curry sauce to the mixture, and then cook it for some time. Now add crab meat and eggs to it. Cook and serve hot, and enjoy the meal.
27. Kao Moo Dang - Barbequed Pork with Rice
A favourite meaty rice dish among the Thais, Kao Moo Dang is a one-plate meal with pork as its primary ingredient. The ingredients required to cook this meal are - pork tenderloins, jasmine rice, tapioca starch, water, eggs, coriander leaves, scallions, tomato sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, kosher sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and rice wine.
The very first step to prepare this meal is to mix rice wine, sesame oil, tomato sauce, soy sauce, salt, and sugar. Now heat it on a pan. Now you need to make a sauce; for this, you need to dissolve tapioca starch in 1 cup of water after and add leftovers after the simmering of meat. Now boil it until it gets thick. Now serve it. The preferred method for serving is to cut pork, place it on the rice, and garnish with sauce, cucumber, scallions, and coriander leaves.
28. Yam Pla Duk Foo - Crispy Fish and Mango Salad
Last but not least, on the list, we have one more amazing dish known as Yam Plah Duk Foo. This dish is a popular accompaniment served alongside alcohol in Thailand. The ingredients required are - catfish, green mango, shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, Thai peppers, cilantro, peanuts, and vegetable oil.
In a country like Thailand, which ranks high on variety, availability and taste of food, you will be spoilt for choice. There is something for everyone here, so whether you are a vegetarian or meat-eater, food critic or food enthusiast, child or adult, get out there and grab some of the amazing food in Thailand.