April 4, 2012

Thai Food 101 - Taking it to the Streets

Gave me a taste, put the spoon back in the pot.
Heading out to pick up your delectable preference for the evening to satiate your ravishing hunger is not challenging in Thailand. If your taste buds crave sweet or spicy, the Thai streets are guaranteed to supply you with a scrumptious dish to satisfy your desires. Chickens hang out in windows, juicy melons, and vendors with carts full of meaty options can be found on every street corner. Thai food style changes all over the country but I’ve concocted a menu of popular grub and thirst quenchers that are found in every crevice of the Land of Smiles.
Get your mouth whet for some serious drool action because these charming dishes will have you positively howling with excitement. If you would like to see more pictures and detailed descriptions of Thai food I’ve indulged in please check out my album Thai Food 101. Chok Dee! (Cheers!)

Eating Style
Thai people eating dinner together.
Very few people like to do it individually, but most like to do it in groups. Family style, particularly on the floor in a circle, is very traditional. It’s common to see folks gathered in a circle during lunchtime in their shop, home (which is open for all to see if you’re walking by), or on the sidewalk. If you have ever wondered why Thai people take their shoes off before entering a room it’s because you’re suppose to keep the floor so clean you can literally eat off of it.
Eating out is a lot cheaper than the alternative: cooking at home. Therefore, night markets are very popular amongst Thais; A place where they can gobble dinner with their family or bring semi-prepared groceries home to consume.

Outdoor restaurant at a market in Krabi.

Mango lady in Ayutthaya. 

Main Courses
Noodles – Thick, thin, long, short, sticky, hard, floppy, white, yellow, you name it there’s a different noodle for every course. Most noodles are made out of rice, which is served with all dishes each meal of the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
Glass noodles with vegetables and egg.
Curry – Concocted of red, yellow, or green curry paste, coconut milk, vegetables, herbs and usually your choice of chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu.
Pumpkin curry in Koh Chang. The only place I've found it!
Soup – Even though the temperature is boiling outside, you always have soup. You could have soup with all vegetables in a chicken broth, soup with noodles, mini chicken legs at the bottom, mushroom soup, I never realized there were so many types of soup. The soup Nazi would be pleased, then again maybe not.
Soup served in a hot pot, you put your own vegetables, meat, or seafood with noodles in the pot and cook yourself.
Meat – Watch out vegetarians! Always meat in every spread, sometimes multiple types of meat at one meal. Chicken, pork (100 different ways), and beef are prepared fried, boiled, stuffed, fatty or trimmed and found in most dishes.
An assortment of meats at a night market in Phuket.
Seafood – Twenty thousand leagues under the sea or the Thai streets, you’ll find fresh grilled squid on a stick, whole fish on a rotisserie, squid jerky on a cart, clams, mussels, and giant tiger prawns.

Fish stuffed with herbs on a rotisserie in Muang Thong Thani.
Thirst Quenchers
Bubble tea. Note the giant straw.
Bubble Tea – Tea with little tapioca type gelatin pellets submerged at the bottom of the cup. You get an extra wide straw to extract the balls from the base of the cup. Drinkers must use caution when sipping bubble tea because they are slippery suckers and if you suck too hard they pop in the back of your throat before you even have a chance for them to properly enter your mouth.

Large Chang in Phuket.
Beer – The King of Thai Beers is Singha. Chang, Leo, Tiger, and Archa are the runner up lagers in Thailand. These $1.10 beers are big so you need 2 hands to handle it properly.
Liquor – Whiskey is highly consumed amongst Thais. Hong Thong and Sang Som are obvious choices. Thai vodka is too painful to drink so most don’t. Rice liquor (aka Thai moonshine) is sneaky so drink with caution!

Coffee stand like this is seen everywhere in Thailand.

Coffee – If you need an extra energy jolt you don’t have to walk but 2 feet before you run into a coffee hut on the street. Iced or hot, served with loads of sugar and condensed milk. Ask your barista for no sugar if you don’t want a headache later.
Fresh fruit shake in Chiang Mai.
Shakes – Fresh fruit shakes are on nearly every menu. Lassi contains yogurt so it’s denser. Shakes vary from thick and smoothie-like to watery and icy.

All Things Sweet
Fruit - Bananas in big and small sizes, sugary sweet rose apples, and jackfruit line up on the street chilling and waiting for you to pick them up. Fresh fruit, always sliced in a baggy accompanied by a wooden poker, is a delightful snack that’s never hard to find. Whether you are in Bangkok or a tiny village, you will always find a fruit stand full of fresh papaya, guava, pineapple, watermelon, and mango at every life stage.
Sweets - Milky secretions dribbled on nearly every food item when it comes to desserts. No pastries exist and the chocolate is never that great. Thai desserts are always made from coconut or flour. A lot of times the confection is a vegetable like green peas with sugar syrup or sweetened condensed milk dripped on top. A popular dessert is corn in a thick, clear sugar paste. I guess it’s half healthy.

Dawg’s Top Favorites:
1. Green curry with chicken or seafood (chicken really absorbs the flavor).
2. Sum tom is a papaya salad prepared with a pestle and mortar. Tell the preparer how many peppers desired. It’s a favorite amongst locals as well.
3. Milk green tea is a refreshing drink made of green tea and condensed milk served on ice. Again, no sugar please!
4. Mango and sticky rice is a traditional dessert made from sweet mango and sticky rice with a bit of sweetened condensed milk.

5. Kanum cok is a dessert that’s not too sweet made from fried coconut with a soft gelatin like center. In the middle you can choose plain, corn, green onions, or pumpkin.


  1. Very interesting. I like the food selection. You look healthy. How is your energy on this diet?

  2. Energy is great Dad. The Chang might be a big factor.