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22 of the Best and Irresistible Thai Foods

By | Last Updated : 12th March 2022

Thai cuisine is not just confined to the region. Its combination of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors and exotic fragrances has made it popular worldwide. While Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia have influenced the traditional Thai dishes, the modern ones incorporate Chinese and Japanese flavors. You would also find the traditional Thai dishes mostly falling under the categories of ‘tom’ or boiled foods, ‘yum’ or spicy salads, ‘tam’ or pounded dishes, and ‘gaeng’ or curries. Some others like pad thai and kai jeow require Chinese-inspired cooking methods like stir-frying or deep-frying.

Here are some of the most delectable Thai foods that would activate your taste buds and make you come back for more.

Thai Food

Top and Popular Dishes of Thailand

1. Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum Goong

Recipetineats.com

Tom yum goong is a tasty and filling soup with ingredients like tomatoes, lemongrass, chili, kaffir lime leaves, galangal roots, shallots, and fish sauce. The star components, however, are fresh shrimps and mushrooms. Often, coconut cream is also added to enjoy its thick, creamy texture. The soup’s refreshing aroma, along with spicy and sour flavors, makes it an appetizing dish.

2. Tom Kha Gai

Tom Kha Gai

40aprons.com

Tom kha gai or chicken in coconut soup is ideal for those looking for a less spicy Thai delicacy than Tom yum goong without compromising the taste. The ingredients are primarily similar, like galangal roots, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass. Only the chilies are optional, while tender chicken and mushrooms are added instead of shrimp. Even if adding chili, the inclusion of creamy coconut milk moderates the spiciness and makes the dish delectable.

3. Guay Tiew Reua

Guay Tiew Reua

Hot-thai-kitchen.com

Guay tiew reua is a delicious and satisfying Thai noodle soup. Its name translates into boat noodles, traditionally sold by vendors from boats floating along Bangkok’s rivers and canals. Pieces of the tender meat of chicken, pork, or beef, along with rice or egg noodles, are cooked in a simmered meat broth. Often, meatballs or wontons also go into the preparation, and the dish is served hot by topping it with dried chili, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice.

4. Som Tam

Som Tam

Thespruceeats.co

Som tam is an authentic spicy green papaya salad that originated in Isaan in Northeastern Thailand. It typically consists of shredded green papaya, garlic, peanuts, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, dried shrimp, lime juice, and chilies. The spicy, salty, and tangy flavors and the crunchiness of fresh vegetables make it stand out from the other typical salads.

5. Gaeng Massaman

Gaeng Massaman

Alwaysusebutter.com

Gaeng massaman is a classic Thai savory and slightly sweet curry dish originating in the southern part of Thailand near Malaysia border previously inhabited by the Muslim population. Traces of Indo-Persian influence remain profoundly visible in this dish.

Its main ingredients are beef or chicken, potatoes, peanuts, tamarind paste, and spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and anise. The addition of coconut milk combined with the meat fat creates a super-rich and creamy texture. The massaman curry is enjoyed hot with cooked jasmine rice.

6. Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Recipetineats.com

Thai cuisine is incomplete without the inclusion of its signature dish, pad thai. It typically consists of thin, flat rice noodles stir-fried in a wok with seafood like dried shrimp, squid, or crab, though some places offer it with chicken, pork, or beef. Other ingredients like bean sprouts, garlic, and scrambled eggs also go into preparation while crushed peanuts are sprinkled on top. Seasoning it with a creamy peanut butter source would even enhance its taste to the fullest. Found in every street stall, pad thai is mouthwatering and has a blend of sweet, savory, and nutty flavors. The vegetarian version is also popular and equally tempting, with tofu cubes replacing the meat or seafood.

7.  Yum Talay

Yum Talay

Importfood.com

Yum talay is a tasty and healthy seafood salad. While ‘yum’ refers to the combination of different flavors, ‘talay’ means seafood. The salad includes boiled shrimp and squid, lime juice, fish or chicken stock, traditional ground chili, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, onions, and sugar. All the ingredients are mixed and poured on a bed of romaine lettuce and topped with fresh herbs and veggies like cilantro, cucumber, and asparagus.  

8. Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew

Recipetineats.com

Pad see ew is a well-loved noodle dish often ordered in street stalls or Thai restaurants. Its cooking procedure includes stir-frying flat rice noodles with meat like chicken, pork, beef, eggs, and vegetables such as Chinese broccoli or cabbage. It attains a dark color due to the addition of soy sauce and is made flavorful with garlic and oyster sauce. Locals further sprinkle dried chili flakes and chili vinegar for an extra dose of spice.

9. Pak Boong

Pak Boong

Futuredish.com

A Thai vegetarian side dish, pak boong, or morning glory is considered extremely healthy. It is usually stir-fried with seasonings of soybean paste, garlic, chilies, and soy sauce. Though oyster sauce also goes into its preparation, it can be eliminated if one prefers a purely vegetarian platter. A flavorful delicacy, pak boong is the best accompaniment for steaming jasmine rice during lunch or dinner.   

10. Khao Pad

Khao Pad

Food.com

A favorite lunch dish, khao pad or Thai fried rice, is simple, delectable, and filling. The key ingredients stir-fried in a hot wok include jasmine rice, egg, onion, garlic, fish sauce, and a protein such as shrimp, crab, chicken, or tofu. Khao pad is mainly served hot with accompaniments such as sliced cucumber, tomatoes, scallions, and lime.

11. Pad Kra Pao Moo

Pad Kra Pao Moo

Thaicookbook.tv

A flavorful basil and minced pork Thai dish, pad kra pao moo is simple and easy to make. Ingredients like chopped shallots, chilies, and garlic are stir-fried in fish sauce and oyster sauce with minced pork. Thai holy basil leaves are added at last for the pervading peppery scent. Pad kra pao moo is traditionally enjoyed alongside rice and a slightly crispy, fried egg. Many also prefer another version, pad krapow gai, in which minced chicken replaces the beef.

12. Gaeng Keow Wan

Gaeng Keow Wan

Dobbernationloves.com

Gaeng keow wan is an authentic Thai green curry that came into the limelight during the reign of King Rama VI and Rama VII about 100 years ago. It gets the unique green color from the combination of green chilies, which is traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle.

Among the many green curry dishes, gaeng keow wan or Thai green chicken curry is quite popular. The main ingredients are tender chicken pieces, green curry paste, coconut milk, eggplants, fish sauce, palm sugar, and fresh basil. The combination of sweet and spicy flavors makes it ideal to have along with a bowl of jasmine rice and papaya salad.

13. Nam Phrik Long Ruea

Nam Phrik Long Ruea

Sbs.com.au

A royal Thai side dish, nam phrik long ruea was initially served during the reign of King Rama V. It is a delicious relish made originally by frying nam phrik, a traditional hot chili and shrimp dipping sauce, with left-over ingredients like sweet pork, catfish, and vegetables. It is plated with crispy catfish on top and garnished with pickled garlic, chopped salted duck egg, and coriander. The sweet, salty, and spicy relish goes well with steamed rice and prawns.

14. Khao Soi

Khao Soi

Allrecipes.com

Khao soi is a Burmese-influenced yellow curry noodle soup hailing from northern Thailand. It consists of rice or boiled egg noodles cooked with a protein such as chicken, beef, pork, or tofu in a creamy coconut curry. Though it’s one of the underrated Thai foods, khao soi is flavorful and rich. It is often served by placing crispy noodles on top and fried ground chilies, pickled vegetables, shallots, and lime on the side.

15. Gai Pad Med Ma Muang

Gai Pad Med Ma Muang

Cookingwithnart.com

Gai pad med ma muang is the best Thai dish for those who have less tolerance for spice. While ‘gai’ and ‘med muang’ in Thai language translates into chicken and cashew nuts respectively, ‘pad’ refers to the stir-frying cooking method. Hence, gai pad med ma muang is Thai chicken stir-fried with cashews. Other ingredients like garlic, mushrooms, chilies, onions, and shallots are also included. It is crispy and chewy in texture while sweet and slightly spicy.

16. Gaeng Panang Gai

Gaeng Panang Gai

Saveur.com

Gaeng panang gai is a traditional panang chicken curry with a less soupy texture. It includes grounded spices and condiments like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red curry paste, shrimp sauce, and peanuts. When coconut milk substitutes water, the dish attains a thick and creamy texture. Chicken pieces, onion, potato, and kaffir lime leaves are added and simmered in the curry broth so that the meat and vegetables obtain all their flavors. A hearty, succulent meal, gaeng panang gai is best served with rice for lunch or dinner.

17. Praram Long Song

Praram Long Song

Importfood.com

Praram long song is yet another royal dish dating back to the era of King Rama V. Apart from the original beef version, chicken or pork ones are also common nowadays. Other ingredients going into its preparation are oyster sauce, soy sauce, coconut milk, red chili paste, tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar, and peanuts. One can also add vegetables as per their choice. The creamy, sweet, savory, and peanut dish is typically served with a bowl of steaming jasmine rice.

18. Gaeng daeng

Gaeng daeng

Fatherly.com

A vibrant and aromatic Thai red curry, gaeng daeng contains meat like chicken, pork, or beef. Other ingredients include coconut milk, Thai eggplants, fish sauce, palm sugar, and a red curry paste made by crushing dried red chilies with garlic, shallots, ginger, galangal, and lemongrass. The addition of fresh kaffir lime leaves and basil leaves gives the flavorful and creamy curry a refreshing scent that easily makes one crave the dish.

19. Kai Jeow

Kai Jeow

Thekitchn.com

Kai jeow is basically a Thai omelet dish that is deep-fried to attain a crispy, golden-brown thin pancake-like texture. Unlike the regular French omelets, kai jeow includes fish sauce instead of salt, along with green onions, scallions, and herbs. One can also turn it into a satisfying meal by adding ground pork or chicken.

20. Yum nua

Yum nua

Food.com

Yum nua is a spicy and zesty Thai salad, a perfect accompaniment with rice. It is made with tender and juicy beef strips, cucumber slices, tomatoes, onions, and herbs. All the ingredients are mixed with chili peppers, lime juice, lemongrass, sesame seeds, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, and palm sugar. Kai jeow pak is an interesting variation of this platter, with vegetables stuffed inside the omelet.

21. Laab

Laab

Thaitable.com

Laab, more commonly known as larb, is a Thai salad having its roots in the northeastern region of Isan. Available in chicken, pork, beef, and mushroom options, laab is enjoyed by the Thai people, especially with steaming rice, due to its spicy kick.

22. Moo Ping

Moo Ping

Seriouseats.com

A barbecued pork skewer platter, moo ping, is a common Thai street food that most vendors would sell. Pork slices are marinated in a sweet and spicy marinade before being barbecued. The smoky flavors and inclusion of minced garlic, cilantro stems, and palm sugar perfectly balance the saltiness of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Though it tastes yummy as it is, adding some drops of lime juice would intensify the flavors and take the taste to another level.

Whether you are a seafood lover or enjoy having meat delicacy, you would easily find a Thai dish to satisfy your appetite. There are even diverse vegetarian options that are equally lip-smacking. While trying out each of these, do not forget to check out the Thai desserts to give your sweet tooth a treat.

TOP PICKS

Best Thai Traditional Foods: Khao Soi, Gaeng Massaman, Tom Yum Goong

Best Thai Street Foods: Pad Thai, Som Tam, Khao Pad

Best Thai Side Dishes: Som Tam, Pak Boong, Yum Talay

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