Naked Farang brings you our top 10 favourite Thai dishes. And you’ll find more than a few surprises in our list. Find out what they are here...
Number 10: Pat see euw gai is a popular dish all across central Thailand although it’s actually more Chinese than Thai. It’s basically noodles fried with a few vegetables (usually kale, baby corn and carrot) and chicken in soy sauce.
Number 9: Eaten with rolled up balls of sticky rice and often accompanied by gai yang (grilled chicken), som tam (papaya salad) is another speciality that originated in Isaan but has since permeated to the very core of Thai society. Actually, Isaan people eat som tam poo pla ra (som tam with crabs and fermented fish sauce), but most of the rest of us go for som tam Thai (som tam with peanuts and shrimps). All som tam is pounded in a pestle and mortar and has lemon juice and chillies.
Number 8: Gaeng kiaw waan (sweet green curry) is a slightly sweet curry in the form of a creamy soup. Oh, and it’s green. I always incur the wrath of my wife and the bemusement of Thai friends when I tip my rice into my green curry to be stirred in and eaten as a hearty stew. Do not try this in swanky restaurants.
Number 7: A dish that I rarely see in restaurants but which my wife cooks near enough once a week is pat nommai (fried bamboo shoots). There’s not much else to say except it’s fried with chicken, chillies and, of course, fish sauce.
Number 6: Gaeng churt sai mara (plain soup with stuffed cucumber) is, despite the name, very tasty. The cucumber is peeled and hollowed out before being stuffed with minced pork.
Number 5: Larb moo (minced pork salad) is a simple and tasty Isaan speciality. It can be eaten with boiled rice or sticky rice and usually comes with a few raw vegetables, such as cabbage, cucumber and string beans.
Number 4: I could easily eat pat krapao gai (fried chicken with basil) morning, noon and night. My cousin, on a visit to Thailand, saw me eating this with a lightly fried egg on top for breakfast once, and he joked that Thais eat the same food for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but they put an egg on their breakfast so they know what time of day it is.
Number 3: Gai neung (steamed chicken) is one of my wife’s specialities. The chicken is steamed in its own broth together with garlic and usually some lemon grass. Cabbage and spring onions are also steamed and these are eaten with rice and a sauce made from chillies, lemon juice and fish sauce.
Number 2: I have been led to believe that gai pat met mamuang (stir-fried chicken and cashew nuts) is actually a Chinese dish, but I refuse to accept it. Nothing this good ever came out of China. The chicken and cashew nuts are fried with onions, dried chillies and green peppers in oyster sauce and eaten with rice.
Number 1: Every female member of my wife’s family can cook a very tasty pla nin (salted and grilled fish, stuffed with lemon grass). The fish can be tilapia or tubtim – both of which are freshwater fish and farmed in Isaan. The meat just peels effortlessly off the bone and melts in your mouth. Delicious.
All Thais will be shocked that Tom Yam Kung never made it into my top 10, but the national dish is too lightweight for me. It would make a nice starter but as a main course, it’s 95% water and inedible flavourings.
Other Thai dishes that are worth a mention: panaeng gai, khao niaw moo ping, pat thai, rad naa, poo pat pon karee, pla tuu and moo manao.
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