THAI FOOD
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Thai Food

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Foods by Region

Northern

North-Eastern

Central

Southern

Fruits of Thailand

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FOOD OF CENTRAL THAILAND


The fertile delta soil and the long coastline of the central region ensure a rich mix of ingredients is readily available. The world famous hom mali (jasmine) rice is grown here. Chinese and other regional Thai cuisines have all given something to the flavour of central food, but it’s taste is thoroughly distinctive and unique.

Meals tend to be eaten with plain rice, shared main dishes, eggs (fried or omelette) and gaeng cherd, a clear soup that literally means bland curry. Thailand’s most internationally well-known dishes all come from the central region.

Central Dishes

Tom Yam Kung
(picture)
Ask any Bangkokian what their favourite dish is and they are programmed to answer tom yam kung. There are certainly other dishes that are eaten more regularly, but this spicy and sour shrimp soup seems to stir feelings of national epicurean pride amongst Thais, in general, and Bangkokians, in particular. It is a national icon, forming part of some sacred trinity with His Majesty the King and Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) as a focal point to unite all Thais and define them. Personally, I think it would make a nice starter but as a single main course dish it lacks body. Its natural saving grace here is that it is usually consumed Thai-style, with accompanying dishes providing the succour to sate, while it seems content serving its primary purpose of flirting with the taste buds subtly enough to retain its decorum yet brazenly enough to leave questions in the mind of the diner and ensure a return visit. It remains a national treasure to Thais and an enigma to me.

Flavour: sweet and spicy
Ingredients: shrimps, chillies, lemon grass, mushrooms, shallots and kafir lime leaves.
Method: boiled

Pad Thai
(picture)
This relatively recent invention is extremely popular with Khao San backpackers and conspiracy theorists even speculate that it was invented solely for them. I doubt this is true, but its lack of a radioactive spice factor and visual similarities to Asian food served in Western restaurants make it strangely familiar to freshly arrived farangs, thus boosting its popularity. It is a halfway house between Eastern and Western cuisine – a teaser for the adventurous.

Flavour: sweet and extremely mildly spicy
Ingredients: rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, egg, tofu, peanuts, bean sprouts, spring onions, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and chilli powder
Method: stir fried

Gaeng Kiaw Waan (Green Curry)
(picture)
This is one of my favourite Thai dishes, although I incur the wrath of my wife and the bemusement of Thai friends when I tip my rice into the soup to be stirred in and eaten as a hearty stew. Do not try this in swanky restaurants.

Flavour: sweet and spicy
Ingredients: chicken (other meats or seafood are sometimes substituted), chillies, coconut milk, eggplants, basil leaves and kafir leaves.
Method: boiled

Pad Krapao Gai (Fried Chicken with Basil)
(picture)
This is an extremely popular dish and one that I can happily eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My cousin, on a visit to Thailand, saw me eating this with a fried egg on top for breakfast once, and he joked that Thais eat the same food for dinner or breakfast but they put an egg on their breakfast so they know what time of day it is. Apart from a couple of Chinese imports, there is very little in the way of “breakfast food” in Thailand, but this one goes down well with me and many Thais, it seems, judging by the number of times I have been blinded by frying chillies at street restaurants as I pass on the back of a motorbike on my way to the office.

Flavour: sweet and spicy
Ingredients: chicken, basil, garlic and chillies
Method: stir fried

Nam Prik Pla Tuu
(picture)
A simple and cheap dish, this is one of the most regularly consumed meals amongst Thais
Flavour: salty and spicy
Ingredients: mackerel and paste (chilli and shrimp).
Method: the mackerel is fried

Tom Ka Gai
(picture)
Flavour: sweet and spicy
Ingredients: chicken, coconut milk, chillies and lemon grass
Method: boiled

Panaeng
(picture)
Flavour: sweet and spicy
Ingredients: chicken, pork or beef with coconut milk and chillies.
Method: fried and simmered

Rad Naa
(picture)
Originally from China
Flavour: sweet
Ingredients: wide rice noodles, meat or seafood, kale, baby corn and gravy.
Method: fried and simmered

Pad Si Yuu
(picture)
Originally from China
Flavour: sweet
Ingredients: noodles, meat, vegetables (vary), fish sauce and thick soy sauce.
Method: stir fried

Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
(picture)
Flavour: bland
Ingredients: rice, meat or seafood (optional), vegetables (vary).
Method: stir fried

Chicken with Cashew Nuts
(picture)
Originally from China but now an adopted national treasure.
Flavour: salty and sweet
Ingredients: chicken, large red dried chillies, green bell peppers, onions and oyster sauce.
Method: stir fried

Muu Ma Nao (Lemon Pork)
(picture)
Flavour: sour and spicy
Ingredients: pork, lemon juice, chillies and garlic.
Method: stir fried



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