When dining out it’s easy to stick to your favourite menu item, especially when it’s a creamy, fragrant green curry that has never let you down on the taste front. But in Thailand, the home of green curry, there are menus overflowing with delicious flavours just waiting to be discovered. Who knows what your new favourite might be? Try a few of these dishes on your next trip to Thailand and open your world to a whole new range of culinary sensations.
In northern Thailand you may be surprised at the abundance of sausage vendors, but don’t be a stranger; these curly numbers pack a tasty punch. Pork meat is blended with spices and herbs such as lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime and red curry paste to create a mouthful that is bursting with flavours unlike those of any other sausage.
It’s an omelette with a Thai twist – add a handful of oysters or pork mince, a dash of lime juice and some fish sauce and you have the makings of a tasty breakfast or lunch for one. The unique texture is achieved by frying the egg mixture in a generous dose of oil; perhaps not great for your health but sensational for your tastebuds.
Khao Mao Tod
Take a slightly overripe banana, coat it in sticky rice and shreds of coconut and deep fry it to a golden brown crisp. Meet khao mao tod, a decadent combination of flavours and textures that is best eaten fresh and hot from a food stall.
Hor Mok Pla
These cute little puddings are actually a layered treat of savoury delights. Basil and cabbage, fish chunks, and fish coconut custard are baked in ramekins folded from banana leaves, which add to the distinctive flavour.
Kaeng Tai Pla
Usually only appreciated by locals and foodie fanatics, this spicy curry of fish and vegetables is based on sauce derived from fish entrails, resulting in a pungent flavour that is sometimes smoothed out with coconut milk. The deep colour comes from turmeric, and while kaeng tai pla can be confronting to newcomers, southern Thai locals can’t get enough of it.
Pad Ka Prao
You’ll find this one readily available from street vendors at lunch time – a stir fried mix of pork, beef or chicken mince flavoured with the usual suspects; chilli, lime, fish sauce and palm sugar; the difference being a generous handful of peppery holy basil. It’s served on a bed of rice and topped off with an almost-runny fried egg.
Another northern specialty, this curry includes the heart of plantain trunks as well as chicken, vegetables, glass noodles and shrimp paste. If you can hunt down wild plantain trunks it is said they offer more flavour than their farmed counterparts.
This is known as the national dish of Laos, but the Thai have adopted their own delicious versions. Basically a spicy fresh meat and herb salad, the variations come in the seasonings. Larb lanna contains fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar, resulting in a tangy sweet and sour sensation, whereas a different northern version leaves out the souring agents and adds a blend of aromatic spices for a more intense mouthful.
Khao Khluk Kapi
An elusive lunch option from central Thailand, this multi-layered dish has a base of rice stir fried with shrimp paste, which results in a salty, lip-smacking nuance. Garnishes include mango, omelette, sweet pork slices, cucumber, chillies and coriander – a fresh combination that makes khao khluk kapi a one dish wonder.