Top 10 Most Popular Thai Foods
Top 10 Most Popular Thai Foods
Beyond the picturesque landscape of blue oceans and misty mountains in Thailand, lies one thing that drives travelers to vacation here every time. It’s the Food! From Sheldon Cooper making it part of his unwavering weekly food menu to Thai restaurants in practically every part of the globe, Thai cuisine is loved and its dishes are irresistible! The landlocked regions in the North and the coastal belt in the South give Thai food its distinct qualities. The influence of surrounding countries and amalgamation of cultures and similar natural bounty too plays a vital role in the ingredients and flavors. Without further ado, lets jump into a gastronomic feast of the top 10 Most popular Thai Foods. And if you start drooling mid-way, may we recommend you just pack your bags and head over to Thailand?
- Khao Soi
Every full-course meal must begin with a soup! But some soups become a wholesome meal, especially in Thailand. Like the infamous Khao Soi of Northern Thailand! Though it uses coconut milk – a Southern Thai style, Khao Soi is best enjoyed in the north with pickled cabbage, diced shallots and some lemon. One of the top 10 most popular Thai foods.
Fresh red curry paste is ground -, turmeric and local Thai curry powder. To this coconut milk is added in along with meat – chicken, beef or pork. This gorgeous fiery broth brews, filling all your sense with its aroma. And finally, flat egg noodles are dropped into it, topped with crispy fried noodles and cilantro.
Do not eat it without a dash of lime! The lemon enhances the spice and adds a whole other dimension to Khao Soi. Today, a variety of Khao Soi versions exist in Thailand and globally. The Burmese Khowsuey at your nearest Thai restaurant is quite similar in flavor, but nothing compared to this spectacular noodle soup in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
- Tom Yum Noodle Soup
Another popular food of Thailand you absolutely cannot miss is Tom Yum Noodle Soup. Fiery Thai red chilies laced with the hint of lime, the first bite of Tom Yum will truly open up your senses. Bite into the egg noodles to take off the spicy edge of the soup. And you’ll discover the underlying notes of dried shrimp, roasted peanut, lime juice -and fish sauce.
“Tom” essentially means boiled, and “Yum” means Mix in Thai. It truly is a mix of flavors and ingredients. Nam Prik Phao (Thai chili paste) forms the base of the soup and to it is added all the other ingredients, including chicken, prawn or pork. Feel like a vegan version? Local Street Thai vendors are happy to make you one sans protein! Usually Served as an appetizer and sometimes a light one-pot meal before you can hit the streets of Bangkok, Tom Yum soup balances the spice and sour perfectly. It is one dish that is so iconic in Thailand, that it’s almost synonymous as Thai Noodle Soup!
- Nam Phrik Ong
Thai’s love their dips and sauces and everything is typically accompanied by a dip. Typically, known as Nam Phrik – Nam meaning water, Phrik meaning spicy chili. And there are a lot of Thai chili sauce variants that you can simply pack up and take back home. Use it as a dip, sauce, marinade or even dressing for your veggies. It’s that good! One such popular dish is Nam Phrik Ong.
Ong chili paste in a mortar decorated with beautiful side dishes.
Now this is a dip that is special to northern Thailand, because it has ground pork in it. Chilies garlic, – is pound in a mortar and ground pork is added to it, brought to a boil with ripe red tomatoes. An already delicious dip converts into something even more complex in flavors with the addition of ground pork. Likened by many to Bolognese, the flavors of Nam Phrik Ong are salty, sour, sweet and mildly spicy all at the same time. When in Chiang Rai, head over to any local restaurant and warm your heart with this rich dip. The dip isn’t smooth and pasty, but semi- crunchy in texture that makes it a great add-on to enjoy the fresh local vegetables of Chiang Rai. Ask for a plate of rice with it, and you’re good to go!
- Nam Phrik Phao
Another great dip and paste of Thai cuisine that is incredibly popular is Nam Phrik Phao. Its versatility has no bounds. From a dip to your shirmp crackers or bun to the base of Tom Yum soups, Nam Phrik Phao can be used as an ingredient and as a sauce.
Again, Thai red chili peppers play a huge role! Dried Chilies are roasted on a wide pan, -, more dried shrimp, garlic, shallot , fish sauce, tamarind paste, and palm sugar. Some Thai villages, sun dry their chilies too! All the flavors of spice, salt, sour and sweet come together to create a dip that makes every Thai dish more tantalizing. Most tourists swear by the authentic jars of Nam Phrik Phao, they buy on their shopping trips at the Chatuchak Market. However, this Thai food is so popular that it’s practically available all across the globe.
- Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Green Curry with Chicken)
There is no way that our list of top 10 most popular Thai foods could miss out the signature Gaeng Keow Wan Gai. The humble Thai Green curry is truly food for the soul. A perfect blend of freshly made Thai green curry paste and sweet nutty coconut milk, there’s barely a traveler in Thailand that has missed eating it.
Fresh green chilies are blended with salt, -, galangal, lemongrass, shallot, and makrut lime leaves to give it that mild spice -palm sugar and fish sauce added to balance the taste. . Thai Green curry is almost a staple across Thailand, with most local eateries serving it up on their menu. Bangkok is one of the best places to enjoy this popular delicacy with some long grain Jasmine rice or Roti. Typically, cooked with chicken, you can also ask them to serve you a vegetarian or seafood preparation.
- Khanom Jeen Nam Ya
While you’re enjoying the beaches of Krabi and Ao Khanom, there’s one popular Thai food you cannot miss is Khanom Jeen Nam Ya. For all the seafood fanatics, this one’s for you. Khanom Jeen is thin rice noodles that are made with a lot of prep. It dates back to the Ayutthaya period, where it was a delicacy of the royals. Considered as the signature food of Nakhon Si Thammarat in Southern Thailand, a Khanom Jeen meal is usually accompanied by the protein curry,- many kind of fresh vegetables, mostly local, and herbs.
Khanom Jeen Nam Ya is rice noodles with fish curry. This fish curry has mild taste and will be more spicy in the Southern of Thailand. – The curry paste is the typical Thai chili paste with galangal, Thai chilies, shallots, garlic and lemongrass. And the best part, the fish is precooked and shredded into the curry, making it easy to eat! The way you eat it is to add the curry on top of your noodles and veggies. Then top it off with fresh basil, long beans or roasted dry chilies. Sounds tempting!
- Sai Oua / Northern Thai Sausage
If there is one food you just won’t miss spotting in Northern Thailand, it is Sai Oua! Also known as Chiang Mai Sausage or Northern Thai Sausage, these pretty coils of sausage are available at every corner of Chiang Mai’s markets and street vendors. If you look through the food history, you’d probably trace back the roots of this popular Thai food to Laos or Burma.
What’s so special you ask? To start out, it is a well-spiced pork sausage infused with all those yum Thai Flavors. Lemongrass, -makrut lime leaves, chilies and galangal are ground with lean pork meat which is then grilled to perfection! The smoky flavors, the spice and aromas while you walk through the markets will definitely have you hooked to Sai Oua in no time. Want to pack some back for home? Feel free to sample the goods at various stalls and then take your pick. You can choose your favorite based on the spice quotient at each stall. Ask the local street food vendors to grill you up a plate. And enjoy it with a side of Moo Ping, fresh salad and of course Nam Prik Noom!
- Khao Yum
For all those who think salads are boring, Thai salads are going to surprise you with its myriad colors and blend of flavors. One such absolute Thai favorite is Khao Yum. A popular Thai food in Southern Thailand, Khao Yum is a salad and rice mix that makes any foodie love a salad. Yum – meaning to mix or toss, this is truly healthy salad always made with the freshest vegetables and herbs-. Several places in Thailand have their own regional touches of flavor and preparation and in all cases the dish is simply yum. And it looks like a total delight on your plate. No wonder it is also called Rainbow Rice Salad.
The rice is a deep color of blue, purple, pink colored with natural foods like beets. It is usually accompanied by sprouted beans, red cabbage, roasted chilies, makrut lime leaf, lemongrass, ground dried shrimp, roasted coconut, pomelo, sour mango. But the lip-smacking magic happens when the dressing is drizzled over the salad. Also known as “nam budu”, the dressing for Khao Yum is salty from the fish sauce, sweet from the palm sugar and an earthy umami flavor from the ground shrimp paste. Perfect for a hot summer day to keep you fresh and cool. We bet you’d love to Instagram this one!
- Thai Roti – Roti Gluay
How can any meal be complete without dessert? And Thailand surely has a plethora of it! From mango sticky rice to the various Khanom Thai that is on offer, you are going to be spoiled for choice! So, we picked one of the most popular Thai desserts – The Thai Roti!
Just as it sounds, this dessert has Indian inspirations. A light feathery pancake is fried crisp and golden on both sides. This is then stuffed with a sweet fruit, usually sliced bananas. Which is then topped with condensed milk and sugar or other fruits. And as sweet as it sounds, you’ll probably find a bee-line for this dessert near several street food vendors. Satiate your sweet tooth with a bite of Roti Gluay when you’re in Bangkok or any other cities. –
- Khanom Chan
Prefer something more fancy and not too sweet? Khanom Chan is a popular choice of dessert too. And one that takes a lot of effort to get right! Every bite you take of this jelly like dessert is a reminder of every layer made with precision and tremendous effort.
Known as Thai Steamed Coconut-Pandan Cake, the dessert comprises several starches like arrowroot flour, rice and tapioca flour made into a batter with coconut milk and sugar. This is then divided into two parts – one laced with fragrant jasmine water and another with Pandan leaves extract for that green color and an earthy flavor. Each layer is carefully placed one by one over each other and steamed layer after layer ensuring each stick to another. Neatness and accuracy are key to getting the perfect Khanom Chan. Labor of Love? We say it definitely is!
This is our list of the top 10 most popular Thai Foods you must try on your vacation in Thailand. But there is so much more to explore. If you’ve got a discerning palate, there are a few dishes for every foodie in Bangkok to try. Or maybe you’re looking for vegetarian Thai Food options in Thailand. Either way, Thai cuisine has something for everyone – the epicurean and the foodie!