Thai cooking is about the juggling of disparate elements. The creation of a harmonious finish. In this article, we will explore 7 of the most famous Thai dishes that you should try. In 2017, these 7 Thai dishes appeared on a list of the “World’s 50 Best Foods”, an online poll of 35,000 people worldwide by CNN TRAVEL. Thailand had more dishes on the list than any other country.
Thai cuisine is usually somewhat spicy but with a mixture of flavors and smells. It is characterized by its balance of acid, salty, sweet, and spicy flavors.
TOM YAM (Tom Yam – Goong)
Tom yum is characterized by its distinctive mix of flavors and aromas from the use of aromatic herbs. The base broth has ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallots, lime juice, fish sauce, tamarind, and ground chilies. In Thailand, tom yum is served with shrimp (tom yum goong), chicken (tom yum gai), fish (tom yum pla), or mixed seafood (tom yum talay or tom yum po tak) and mushrooms. The soup is topped with chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves.
PAD THAI (Pad Thai)
It is a wok-sautéed dish based on rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind paste, red pepper, and any combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken decorated with chopped peanuts. It is usually served with a slice of lemon and the juice of this fruit is added to the dish as a condiment. In Thailand, it can be served decorated with a banana flower, palm sugar, and roasted chili powder.
PAPAYA SALAD (Som Tam)
The dish combines the five main basic tastes: sourness of the lime, the spiciness of the chili, saltness, and savoriness of the fish sauce, and sweetness of palm sugar. The ingredients are mixed and pounded in a mortar, which is reflected in the Khmer, Lao, and Thai names for the dish that literally means “pounded papaya”.
In Thailand, it is customary that a customer asks the preparer to make the dish suited to his or her tastes.
MASSAMAN CURRY (Massaman Curry)
Is a rich, relatively mild Thai curry. Being a fusion dish, ingredients popular among Muslim traders from Persia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Malay Archipelago (e.g. cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cumin, bay leaves, nutmeg, mace, and potato) were brought to Thailand and combined with ingredients more commonly used in native Thai cuisine (e.g. chili peppers, coriander, lemongrass, galangal, white pepper, shrimp paste, shallots, and garlic) to make massaman curry paste.
GREEN CURRY (Green Curry)
The name “green” curry derives from the color of the dish, which comes from green chilies. The “sweet” in the Thai name (wan means ‘sweet’) refers to the particular color green itself and not to the taste of the curry. As this is a Thai curry based on coconut milk and fresh green chilies, the color comes out creamy mild green or, as this color is called in Thai, “sweet green”.
Its ingredients are not exactly fixed. The curry is not necessarily sweeter than other Thai curries but, although the spiciness varies, it tends to be more pungent than the milder red curries.
THAI FRIED RICE (Khao Phat)
This dish differs from Chinese fried rice in that it is prepared with Thai jasmine rice instead of regular long-grain rice. It normally contains meat (chicken, shrimp, and crab are all common), egg, onions, garlic, and sometimes tomatoes. The seasonings, which may include soy sauce, sugar, salt, possibly some chili sauce, and fish sauce are stir-fried together with the other ingredients. The dish is then plated and served with accompaniments like cucumber slices, tomato slices, lime and sprigs of green onion and coriander, and phrik nampla, a spicy sauce made of sliced Thai chilies, chopped garlic cloves, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar.
NAM TOK MU (Nam Tok Mu)
Nam Tok mu is one type of Thai salad. It is a native food of the northeast of Thailand (Isan) and it is a popular food because it is easy to cook. It is made from grilled pork that is cut into thin pieces and flavored with chili powder, chopped shallots, ground roasted rice, lime juice, fish sauce. It tastes sour, salty, and spicy like larb. The ingredients of Nam Tok Mu can be found locally in Thailand and it is usually very cheap.
The side dishes of Nam To Mu are vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, and peas.