5 Delicious Thai Dishes You've Got to Try

There’s no doubt that Thai food is bursting with sweet, spicy, tangy, and salty flavors. This exotic cuisine has evolved over the centuries by Eastern and Western influences but has managed to remain distinct among Southeast Asian countries. Accompanied by a steaming bowl of fragrant jasmine rice, you can be sure to find plenty of fresh aromatic herbs and tender bite-sized morsels in every dish. Here’s a selection of five must-try Thai dishes the next time you’re craving something out of the ordinary.

Pad Grapow

Pad Grapow

Pad grapow can be found on every menu in Thailand but it's usually best when eaten on the street. Not only is it quick and easy to cook, it’s also a crowd pleaser with its winning combination of Thai holy basil, garlic, and bird’s-eye chilies along with fish, oyster, and soy sauces. Although it is can be made with shrimp or tofu, it is most commonly made with minced or small slices of either pork or chicken. The ingredients are quickly stir-fried together resulting in a flavorful and slightly spicy dish. To top it off (quite literally), phad grapow is popularly served with a fried egg.

Mango with Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice

Thailand’s tropical climate is perfect for growing mangos, so it should be no surprise to find variations of this sweet fruit snack at many street vendors. This particular dish is made of slices of perfectly ripe, bright yellow mangos that are carefully arranged over a bed of glutinous sticky rice. When prepared using coconut milk and a bit of sugar, the sticky rice becomes delectably creamy. A spoonful of coconut rice and sweet mango is the perfect tropical flavor combination and can be guaranteed to melt in your mouth. Don’t be surprised to find some vendors finishing the dish off with a drizzle of sweet coconut cream.

Khao Ka Moo

Khao Ka Moo

Khao ka moo, or braised pork leg with rice, is easily identifiable among food stalls and restaurant windows by steaming metal vats of dark aromatic broth and browned pork legs. The simmering broth is seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, anise, and a few other exotic spices before the big meaty pork legs are added and slow cooked for hours. This technique produces incredibly tender pieces of pork that slide right of the bone and easily onto awaiting customers’ plates. This particular dish is not spicy at all, although a chili sauce typically occupancies it on the side along with some blanched greens.

Penang Curry

Panang Curry

Penang curry is a thick, flavorful, and spicy red curry that is most often served with thin cuts of beef or chicken. Its popping flavor comes from a red curry paste composed of ground spices such as chilies, galangal, lemongrass, coriander root and seeds, cumin, and garlic. This paste is combined with a small amount of coconut milk or coconut cream and a splash of fish sauce to make a thick sauce that generously coats the stir-fried meat. A dollop of coconut cream and a tangle of thread like strips of kaffir lime leaves on top of the penang curry finishes off this beautiful dish. Make sure to have a few tissues on hand in case you start to sweat!

Yum Bplaa Duk Fu

Yum Bplaa Duk Fu

Yum bplaa duk fu is also known as Thai crispy fish with mango salad. The star of this one-of-a-kind salad is the airy fish cake, which is made by flaking the flesh of a cooked fish and then frying the flaked bits in a pan of shallow oil until the cake is golden brown and crispy through and through. These fish cakes are then paired with a tangy salad of unripe julienned mango, lime juice, sweet cane sugar, hot chilies, crunchy peanuts, and tart red onions. A conglomerate of intense flavors and opposing textures come together in one incredible dish. (Also, if you're a fan of Thai salads, check out these other four salads to try out!.

Can't get enough of these Thai dishes? Take a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai to learn how to cook a variety of tasty treats for yourself!