Memorable Food from ThailandReading Time: 5 minutes
Apologies, the title to this post is actually misleading. This post contains some of the amazing food I ate in Thailand. As I did not always have my camera with me, there are some meals that safely reside in my happy place. Prior to going to Thailand my knowledge of Thai dishes, I admit was limited to about three or four really flavoursome dishes. I was quickly made aware of the richness and complexity of Thai flavours with at least three and up to five taste senses in each dish/meal sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. These combinations got my taste-buds doing somersaults and my eyes crying with excitement (or maybe that was the occasional extra chilli).
Prior to going to Thailand I was not aware of the numerous varieties of Thai curries and variations of rice dishes. I was indifferent about rice but since my visit, I realise how versatile this little grain is. McDang, who is a well known Thai chef and writer, when talking about Thai cuisine, says ‘the words that come to mind are intricacy; attention to detail; texture; colour; flavour; and the use of ingredients with medicinal benefits. Thai people not only pay attention to how a dish tastes: we are also concerned about how it looks, how it smells, and how it fits in with the rest of the meal.’ These words, I hope you will agree with me, ring true. Here are some of the highlights from my culinary exploration of Thailand.
1. Different versions of mango and sticky coconut rice in different parts of Thailand. I loved this dessert so much I tried so many versions of it. True to Thai form-presentation is key, check out the shapes and colours -even when you buy it off the street
2. A range of creepy crawlies on offer on the streets of Bangkok-I felt compelled to go primitive and try some. I found it interesting that the scorpions are on kebab sticks.
3. Again, a random and yet amazing meal of fish, chicken kebab and fresh vegetables I found when riding around Chiang Mai. They serve sauces in plastic bags which I initially found strange. This was some of the freshest fish I have ever had and true to Thai food form, it had an interesting range of flavours with lemongrass, ginger, some salty and spicy flavours that I did not catch due to language differences. It was served with a chilli sauce and green vegetables.
4. I visited a couple of produce markets which had vibrant and inviting colours. I also loved the way you could find many street vendors selling packs of fresh fruit sitting on ice, sometimes they even went to the trouble of cutting it into lovely shapes-right on the street and serving it to you on a stick for under 15 baht (35p). I tried out new fruits I’d never seen or tried before. It was cool to also see some things I’d seen in books before like tamarind and durian.
5. I am not big on coffee but this was an amazing drink from a cute coffee place in Chiang Mai, which sells coffee from locally grown beans. Generally in Thailand, unless you ask, they will put sugar in almost everything. This coffee was no exception, but I did not mind. I am not sure what exactly was in the coffee but it felt and tasted like a layer of a caramel like jelly with hints of coffee and then a layer of coffee jelly bubbles and then a layer of soya milk.
6. There was a Chill Out Market Night Bazaar, with haystacks for seats and random food and drink trucks from different parts of the world. I lined my tummy up with some lovely Korean food from one of the stalls before visiting the owners of a truck called ‘Cocktails of the World’. Each of their cocktails was divine! Ok, maybe I can only remember the first three, but still!
7. On the beautiful party island, Koh Phi Phi, I had this aesthetically pleasing seafood fried rice served in a pineapple. The fruit and the cocktail umbrella’s add colour and bring that tropical vibe to the dish. Very contrasting flavours in this dish, but it worked so well.
8. When it comes to complexity in textures this dish, which I found in a side street restaurant near the produce market in Chiang Mai, takes the cup. Khao Soi is a Burmese-influenced dish mostly served in the north of Thailand. It is a coconut curry like dish with chicken on the bone, soft udon noodles, crunchy vegetables and served with crispy noodles. My teeth and tongue did not fully know what they were getting with each mouthful- crunchy, crispy, chewy?
9. Will end the post with some cheeky cocktails from Bangkok
What was your first experience with Thai food and what your favourite Thai dishes/ingredients?