Exhibiting influences from its Burmese, Vietnamese, Laos, Cambodian and Chinese neighbours, Thai cuisine today can be loosely divided into four regional cuisines, each of which reflect variations in climate, topography and ethnic diversity. Combining sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy flavours, it also places an emphasis on contrasting textures, colour and the use of medicinal ingredients, with ample use of chilli. Both rice and noodles feature heavily, with sweet desserts drawing on these ingredients, together with an abundance of tropical fruits.
One of Thailand’s most famous dishes commonly found at market street-stalls is phat thai, made from thin rice noodles which are stir-fried with egg, shrimp and sometimes chicken, and seasoned with chilli, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind.
Thailand’s coconut-based curries have been exported across the world and there is not better place to sample authentic versions of green, red and massaman curry than in a local restaurant, accompanied by a steaming mound of jasmine rice.
Thai Noodle Soup
Steaming noodle soups are popular at all times of the day and two not to miss are the northern coconut-based curry noodle soup known as khao soi, as well as kuay tiew, a clear noodle soup made from a pork bone broth.
Thai Sweet Desert
Created from rice-based products and drawing on coconut milk and fresh tropical fruits, sweet Thai desserts include the traveler-favourite khao niew mamuang, or sticky rice with mango, the Thai crepe known as khanom beuang, and the banana-leaf ‘surprise’ of khanom sod sai.
The hot and sour soup known as tom yam comprises a broth seasoned with lemongrass, kaffir lime, fish sauce, galangal and chilli. The most popular version, tom yum goong, also features shrimps.
Dressed with a delicious combination of fish sauce, lime juice and chilli, Thai salads bring together sweet, spicy and sour flavours. Try green papaya or mango salad, the minced meat salad laap, or yum woon sen, combining rice vermicelli with fresh seafood.