Thai cuisine is famous the world over for its spiciness and intense flavors. Many tourists and food lovers often feast on more traditional Thai fare such as pad thai, green curry and tom yum gai, but unfortunately, most usually miss out on other delicious (and sometimes hard-to-find) dishes in Thailand. Here are the top 5 dishes that you should NOT miss in Thailand!
1. Haw mok: Fish curry is stirred until it reaches a mousse-like consistency and then steamed in banana leaves. Haw mok is a rare, Southern Thailand delicacy due to its long and tedious preparation process. You will have literally hit the culinary jackpot if you manage to find it. Haw mok is simply delicious! It’s aromatic and full of flavor with lemongrass and chili pepper, while managing to not be overbearingly fishy. As haw mok is something pre-cooked and sold on the street, you can’t specify the level of spiciness so try eating haw mok with white rice or a sweet drink should you need help to cool your taste buds.
2. Khao kha moo: Stewed pork leg doesn’t necessarily sound like music to a foodie’s ears, but just wait until you taste it! Khao kha moo is Thailand’s answer to soul food. Juicy, tender pork leg over rice, flavored with the stew it was cooked in, and a side of mustard greens makes the perfect meal for those looking for something milder, but won’t lack in flavor. Luckily, khao kha moo can be found in most roadside food stalls all over Thailand.
3. Moo kata: Thailand’s known for its hot weather and you would think the last thing anyone would want to do was cook their own bar-b-que over a hot clay oven just inches away from their face. Oh, how wrong you’d be! Moo kata is one of the best things to eat in Thailand and it’s a fun dining experience for all involved! First, load up on plates of food from the buffet. This can range from spiced beef to whole prawns to chicken skewers to mini hot dogs. Next, choose accompanying dishes like a wide variety of noodles, fresh vegetables, and sauces. Once the cooking surface is prepared with a piece of pork fat, start cooking your meal. Be careful not to overload your cook space; it’s easy to burn your food on the small, but hot surface if you forget to turn them over in a timely manner. A meal is never as satisfying as one that you make with your own hands, so wipe that sweat off your brow and dig in. You’ve earned this delicious meal!
4. Beef noodle soup: A generous helping of vermicelli noodles and plenty of accompanying vegetables in a delicious broth flavored with fish sauce, pepper, and a touch of sugar, Thailand’s beef noodle soup gives its nearby neighbor, Vietnam’s more famous version, pho, a run for its money. One bowl is plenty for a hungry traveler and Thailand’s beef noodle soup can soon become your daily food fix as it became for me!
5. Khao soi: Egg noodles are perfectly complimented with a spicy, coconut chicken curry soup to make your taste buds sing. Literally. The first time I ate this dish, I was absolutely blown away. The hearty curry-soup is seasoned with shallots, lime, and pickled cabbage. The chicken is amazingly tender. Khao soi practically begs you to eat more of it. Unfortunately, this dish is hard to find in Thailand except in the north (it’s practically a staple in Chiang Mai), a rather confounding discovery given Thailand’s near-obsessive love for noodles and curry.
Have YOU ever tried one of these rare Thai delicacies?