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  1. 13 of the best Thai dishes

    posted by Guest Blogger - Matt Kepnes | 0 Comments


    In the first of a new series of guest posts on our blog, Matt Kepnes, founder of top travel blog NomadicMatt.com tell us his favourite Thai dishes. To keep up to date with Matt you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

    Whenever I go back to visit Thailand I always go on an eating binge. I miss the zesty, spicy flavor Thai food has. No matter how good a restaurant I find in the States, it’s just never the same as eating the real thing. Living in Thailand spoiled me, so whenever I go back, these are my must-have dishes and the ones I think will give you a good overview of Thai cuisine:

    Pad Thai

    This quintessential Thai dish is often standardized in restaurants around the world to the point where it becomes generic. Yet when you veer out of the tourist destinations, it’s easy to find good Pad Thai in Thailand. On Sukhimvit 33 in Bangkok, there is a Pad Thai stall on the corner so good that even my Thai friends compliment it.

    Spring Rolls

    Throughout the streets of the main cities, you find little stalls selling spring rolls. For a quick mid-day or late-night appetizer, nothing beats a spring roll -- draped in sweet chili sauce, of course. At just 50 cents for five, it’s easy to over consume this delicious treat.

    Red Pork Noodle Soup (Kuay Teow Moo Daeng)

    By far my favorite Thai dish, this red pork noodle soup is (sadly) only found in the country. It’s always the first dish I eat when I return to Thailand. The soup consists of noodles, a potent and flavorful broth (made from boiled pork bones and onions), sprouts, bok choy, and sliced red pork. You can eat it a few ways but I eat mine with a little fish sauce (sour), a few spoonfuls of sugar (sweet), and a small amount of chili (spicy).

    Kai Jeow

    This Thai omelet is my breakfast of choice. It’s egg mixed with fish sauce and chilies, cooked in (a lot of) oil, served atop white rice then slathered in sweet chili sauce. I never would have imagined the flavors of egg, rice, and sweet chili sauce would work together, but they do.

    Pad Kra Pao

    When I’m looking to eat something with a little kick, I’ll get this dish of minced pork or chicken stir-fried with basil and chilies served over rice. Even if you get them to make it “not spicy,” for a Thai that only means two chilies and I end up trying hard not to breathe fire. I prefer to get mine from the night markets and street stalls where they tend to mince and chop the meat a little finer than in restaurants.

    Pad See Ew

    This is a dish of fat rice noodles cooked with eggs, chicken, and bok choy. The noodles are darkened with soy sauce that adds lots of flavor to the otherwise bland noodles. The noodles are quite sticky and when you pick them up on your fork, you usually get about half the dish on it.

    Som Tam

    This dish is a staple of Thai cuisine and you can’t throw a stone without hitting a dozen som tam sellers. Shaved papaya is tossed in a mortar and pestle with carrots, peanuts, tomatoes, string beans, palm sugar, fish sauce, and a whole lot of chilies. It is as delicious and amazing as it is fiery. It’s so spicy that I simply don’t get it made with any chilies.

    Mango Sticky Rice

    This delicious dish combines sweet mangos, sticky rice and coconut cream syrup. It’s incredibly sweet and the mango and cream sauce that is used makes it a great snack or desert.

    Pad Fuktong Sai Kai

    I’ll be honest – other than pumpkin and eggs, I have no idea what is in this dish. And the taste is divine – it’s a very sweet dish that can be a little too sweet on its own, so I tend to eat it with rice to mellow out the flavor.

    Banana Pancakes

    Often associated with backpackers due to their love of this dish, this dish is actually found in a lot of Thai food markets. A fried dough filled with bananas and topped with sugar and condensed milk, this is a sweet explosion in your mouth and one of my favorite snacks.

    BBQ Skewers

    Sure, BBQ skewers can be found everywhere in the world, but the Thai BBQ sticks from the street are cooked in a marinade of soy sauce, sugar and garlic that can’t be found elsewhere. If spring rolls are nowhere to be found, BBQ skewers are the best snack replacement.

    Massaman Curry

    Massaman is my favorite curry – I love the thick, nutty flavor of the sauce and heartiness of overall dish. This southern Thai dish usually contains coconut milk, roasted peanuts or cashews, potatoes, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, palm sugar, fish sauce, chili and tamarind sauce. It also comes with a side of rice.

    Tom Yum

    Tom yum is characterized by its distinct hot and sour flavor; the spicy clear soup will burn the roof of your mouth off. I have it very rarely – only when I want something with a little kick, because even when I order it “not spicy” I still have trouble eating it. The basic broth is made of stock, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce and crushed chili peppers. Then add your meat of choice, though the most popular is Tom Yum Kung (Shrimp).

    Thai food has a well-deserved reputation for excellence and there’s nothing as good as Thai food as in Thailand. You just don’t get the whole atmosphere of street food cuisine in the westernized restaurants. When you are in Thailand next, be sure to try some of these excellent dishes that will let you experience the variety and flavor of Thai cuisine.

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