Thai cuisine shows great appreciation for its culture and demonstrates generosity to its host. Following tradition, dishes begin with a spoonful of rice, followed by a few spoonfuls of each dish, always leaving a little food on the plate. Each bite is different, with a sweet, sour and spicy taste that sets them apart from other countries. In addition, it has direct influences from southern China and has Dutch, Portuguese and Japanese touches.
Today, Thailand’s cuisine is distinguished by its personal approach and is divided into four culinary styles: northern, with milder cooking; northeastern, with spicy food and glutinous rice; central, with jasmine rice as the main ingredient; and southern, with coconut milk and cashew nuts. In addition, Thai curries are identified by their colour, the one with the hottest sauce is green, followed by red, yellow and orange. Other popular curries are Panang and Massaman with Malay and Persian influences.
1. Pad Thai
In the mood for noodles? Pad Thai is a typical national street dish, popularised during World War II due to rice shortages. Its original name is ‘Gway Teow Pad Thai’, composed of the Chinese word ‘Gway Teow’, meaning rice noodles and ‘Pad Thai’, meaning fried and Thai. This dish, as the name suggests, is made from rice noodles with stir-fried eggs and tofu, seasoned with tamarind juice and fish sauce, and also contains dried shrimp, onion, pepper, garlic and palm sugar. It is usually served with bamboo shoots, slices of lime, ruddy banana flowers and a sprinkling of peanuts. Some variations of Pad Thai are served with chicken or pork.
2. Pad See Ew
Unlike Pad Thai… This food is mainly made of dried flat rice noodles, which are flexible, white and shiny, as they are covered with a thin layer of oil. The noodles are cooked with plenty of soy sauce, meat, garlic, tofu, egg and Chinese broccoli. For best results, they are cooked in a hot, seasoned wok, and a high temperature is important to promote the texture of the noodles.
3. Som Tam
The popular green papaya salad! Som Tam is a dish originating from northeastern Thailand. Its name means “to hit the bitter” and it is composed of a fish sauce, with pepper, garlic, tomato, lemon and palm sugar. The salad is complemented with roasted peanuts, green beans and shrimp. The combination of sour, spicy, salty and sweet flavours is ideal for anytime, an impromptu breakfast, a casual lunch or a light dinner.
4. Khao Niao
Khao Niao is a soft, chewy, glutinous rice, widely found in northern Thailand and Laos. It is usually eaten with the hands, kneaded lightly with the fingers and eaten bite by bite. This food accompanies many dishes, from appetizers to desserts, and is certainly an essential accompaniment to meats such as pork. The rice follows a whole preparation process: first it is soaked in water, drained and then steamed in a bamboo basket. When ready, the rice is kept in a covered container to prevent it from drying out.
5. Khao Pad
A good and easy dish to prepare? Khao Pad is a stir-fried rice dish, consisting of eggs, chicken or pork, garlic, onions, soy sauce, pepper, fish sauce, fresh ginger and vegetables. All cooked in a wok over high heat and stir-fried constantly. All the traditional Thai flavours come together to create this distinctive and traditional meal.
6. Ba Mee Kiew
Ba Mee Kiew is the delicious egg noodles made with wonton. What is wonton? It is a Cantonese dumpling stuffed with meat. The dish has two options: noodles with or without broth. In the soup version, the ingredients are mixed together, while in the other version, the ingredients are served in separate dishes.
Laab, the traditional meat salad, seasoned with fresh herbs. It is mostly consumed in Laos and northern Thailand. It is prepared with pork, chicken, fish, duck, beef or buffalo. Spices and seasonings may vary from area to area, but it is usually cooked with coriander, spring onions and an excess of mint.
8. Tom Yum
Want to try a sour and spicy soup? Then your choice is the Tom Yum dish, a Thai soup, with different versions, the best known of which is Tom Yum Goong. It is made with Nam Prik Pao, a base of herb paste and spices: chilli, garlic and shallots. The soup can also contain mushrooms, tomatoes, coriander, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce.
9. Thai tea
Refreshing and strong… Thai tea can be drunk as a dessert and helps to soothe spicy and spicy food. It consists of black tea, contains yellow colouring and an aromatic hint of vanilla. Then, ice is added if you want to make iced tea and finally, milk, which can be whole, coconut, condensed or low-fat. The averages vary between half and half, a quarter of milk or three thirds, depending on the consumer’s taste.
10. Khao Niao Mamuang
The authentic popular Thai dessert is Khao Niao Mamuang. It consists of two basic ingredients: glutinous rice and mango slices. Its sweet and sour combination is balanced with coconut milk to form a smooth and creamy dish. Some variations are served with sweet coconut cream topped with mung beans or sesame seeds.