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Thailand Food Guide

 
 
One of the great pleasure of being in Thailand is that there is a great abundance of eating places and the cost of eating is rather cheap when compared to those in Western countries. As Thailand is a major agricultural country, grains, vegetables, meat and all kinds of foodstuff are produced here at very reasonable prices. Besides, aquatic and marine animals are easily acquired from the sea and many rivers. These factors together with the gift of cooking of Thai people make Thailand a paradise for every food lover.
Wherever you are in Thailand, you'll surely find a good number and variety of eating places -- perhaps much more than you've ever expected. And that's why many Western visitors said that one of their pleasures while being in Thailand is EATING! When asked why? They simply said -- Because it is delicious and cheap!
thailand food

The unique feature of Thai cuisine is the mixture of 4 basic tastes -- salty, sweet, sour and pungent. Many dishes can even be described as pungent and spicy with lots of garlic, chilies, and fresh herbs. Thai food not only tastes good, but is also healthy due to its low fat and high fibre and the nutritious properties of its herbal ingredients.

Anyway, Thai food can be basically divided into four groups according to its region of origin -- central, northern, northeastern (Isan) and southern.
Thai food in the central part is a combination of various tastes -- hot, salty, sweet and greasy. People in the central and southern regions eat steamed rice with side dishes, such as curries, shrimp paste dip with fresh vegetables, fried dishes and soups. While many dishes of the central region receive the influence of Chinese cuisine, the southern ones are influenced by Malay cuisine.

Another difference is that the southern dishes consist mainly of sea fish. Its taste is sour, salty and very hot since people like to use turmeric in cooking. Khanom chin (Thai rice vermicelli) is a popular native food of the South, which is taken with vegetables and a hot and spicy curry.

On the other hand, the northern and northeastern people prefer eating steamed glutinous rice to non-glutinous rice. Most northern dishes are generally milder than those of the other regions. Sugar, coconut cream and spices are less used.

Khantok Dinner
A well known style of eating is khantok dinner comprising sticky rice, curries and nam phrik ong (a sauce of minced pork, tomatoes and chilies) all of which are placed in a wooden tray around which all guests sit and eat with their hands.
kantok dinner thailand

The taste of the Northeastern (Isan) food is stronger, more salty, sour and hot than elsewhere in the country and some dishes receive the influence of Laos. One unique characteristic of Isan food is that pla ra (fermented fish) constitutes a main dish in almost every meal. It is plainly eaten with glutinous rice or added to other dishes.

Som Tam (green papaya salad), one of the most popular dishes in Thailand, is also an original northeastern food and is normally eaten with glutinous rice and grilled chicken.
som tam thailand

Basically, eating Thai food is a communal affair joined by two or more people sharing different dishes. So the greater the number of diners, the greater the number of dishes shared. These dishes are eaten together allowing the diners to enjoy the harmonious tastes of the whole meal. A typical Thai meal should consist of a soup, a fried dish, a hot salad (yam), a curry dish or a dip with fried fish and fresh vegetables. Besides, Thai food is normally served with a variety of condiments and sauces, e.g. fish sauce with chilies and vinegar with chilies.
If you are trying hot Thai food for the first time, you should take plenty of rice. You should also avoid eating chilies, especially the small red or green ones called phrik khi nu, which is a main ingredient in curries, hot salad and spicy fried dishes. Thai food is eaten with a fork and spoon and no knife as all ingredients are cut in slices or small chunks.

Have you ever tried Thai food? Do you like it? we invite you to savour some mouth-watering Thai dishes which are most popular among foreigners.

In July 1999, the Office of the National Culture Commission announced the top ten Thai dishes best liked by foreigners. In cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office had conducted a survey of Thai restaurants all over the world to find out ten favourite Thai dishes of foreigners. In the survey 1,000 Thai restaurants around the world were asked to fill in a questionnaire. However, only 500 restaurants which have Thai chefs and offer the authentic Thai food were qualified for being taken into consideration.
The results were the top ten Thai dishes which are listed below in order of their percentages of popularity.

 
 

 

Top Ten Thai Dishes With Foreigners

tom yam kung soup thailand
1. tom yam kung (spicy shrimp soup)

kaeng khiao wan kai thailand
2. kaeng khiao wan kai (green chicken curry)

phat thai
3. phat thai (fried noodles of Thai style)

 

phat kaphrao
4. phat kaphrao (meat fried with sweet basil)

 


5. kaeng phet pet yang (roast duck curry)

6. tom kha kai (chicken in coconut soup)

yam nua
7. yam nua (spicy beef salad)



8. mu or kai sa-te (roast pork or chicken coated with turmeric)


9. kai phat met mamuang himmaphan (chicken fried with cashew nuts

10. phanaeng nua (meat in coconut cream)



Thai Seafood
Thailand is not only a kingdom of fruits but also a kingdom of seafood. Anyone who has experienced Thai seafood will readily agree to its great variety, savoury taste and sweet smell. A secret of seafood deliciousness lies in its freshness.

As Thailand has a long coastline and Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and many other cities are close to the sea, fresh supplies of fishes, crabs, prawns, lobsters, oysters and other shellfish are always available and all eaters will find them most palatable no matter whether they are gourmets or just ordinary diners.
Seafood dishes normally are offered at most Chinese restaurants. In Bangkok, the areas where there are a lot of seafood restaurants are Yaowarat (Chinatown) and Silom.

thailand seafood

 

 


Thai Fruit
For those of you who are fond of eating fruits, Thailand will surely be like a paradise for you. If you have a chance to visit a market and buy some fruits, you'll find that fruits in this country are so plentiful, so diversified, so inexpensive and so delicious. Many Thai fruits are available all year round. However, the period when fruits are on sale in great abundance and variety is from May to July. Here are some kinds of Thai fruit with Thai romanized spellings.
(see Romanization System of the Thai Language section.)

Thai Desserts
Like Thai dishes, Thai desserts are also delicious, colourful and multifarious. They are pleasing to the eye as well as the palate. Thai women have a particular liking for them and eat them both after and between meals. Most Thai sweets are made from five simple ingredients -- coconut cream, coconut flesh, rice flour, palm sugar and eggs.

thai desserts

Some favourite sweets among the Thais are :
- thong yip (sweet egg yolk cup)
- thong yot (sweet egg yolk drop)
- foi thong (sweet shredded egg yolk)
- met khanun (mung bean flour coated with sweet egg yolk)
- mo kaeng (egg custard with mung bean flour)
- sangkhaya (egg custard)
- bua loi (glutinous-rice flour balls in coconut cream)
- tako (jelly with coconut cream)
- kluai buat chi (banana in coconut cream)
- fakthong buat (pumpkin in coconut cream)
- kluai chueam (banana in syrup and coconut cream)
- lukchup (fruit-shape desserts made of mung-bean flour with natural colouring)
- thapthim krop (diced water-chestnuts in coconut cream)

 

There are arrays of Thai sweetmeats for sale at many places ranging from sidewalk stalls, markets and small shops to top department stores. Try to taste some of the above to appreciate the marvelous taste of Thai desserts.


Chinese Food

Thailand is an ideal place for enjoying genuine Chinese food that tastes exactly like that of its country of origin. The Chinese culinary art was first brought to Thailand by the Chinese who migrated to this country in large numbers in the late Ayutthaya period over 200 years ago. As a result of the long history of contact between the two peoples, the Thai and the Chinese cultures are now well mixed in many aspects, including the art of cooking.

Chinese food is commonly served in restaurants and hotels in every part of Thailand, especially in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. Indeed, Thailand is the only place outside China (and Taiwan and Hong Kong) that can provide tourists with such a wide choice of delicious Chinese dishes. Bangkok's Chinatown (Yaowarat Road) is one of the best places for Chinese food, both in expensive restaurants and at cheap but quality food stalls which are specially abundant at night.


Western & Asian Food
Most coffee shops in tourist hotels serve an approximation of European food, some also Chinese and Japanese. For more authentic dishes, you can try the nationality restaurants, mostly located in the leading hotels and in the busy shopping areas. There you will find the food and desserts in their original tastes. Western cuisines available in Bangkok and provincial tourist centres are American, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Scandinavian, Swiss and Russian. Asian cuisines include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Muslim and Arabic.Thailand is an ideal place for enjoying genuine Chinese food that tastes exactly like that of its country of origin. The Chinese culinary art was first brought to Thailand by the Chinese who migrated to this country in large numbers in the late Ayutthaya period over 200 years ago. As a result of the long history of contact between the two peoples, the Thai and the Chinese cultures are now well mixed in many aspects, including the art of cooking. Chinese food is commonly served in restaurants and hotels in every part of Thailand, especially in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. Indeed, Thailand is the only place outside China (and Taiwan and Hong Kong) that can provide tourists with such a wide choice of delicious Chinese dishes. Bangkok's Chinatown (Yaowarat Road) is one of the best places for Chinese food, both in expensive restaurants and at cheap but quality food stalls which are specially abundant at night.


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