A Guide to Thai Street Food
Dec 29 , 2011
Eating Thai street food is a must when visiting Thailand. The idea of street food sends some people running but you will miss one of the best experiences, sitting on the side of the street with a bunch of locals, eating cheap, delicious, and authentic food that has been cooked right in front of you.
People are shouting and pots and pans are clanging. Chefs of street stalls cook with breakneck speed tossing ingredients and ladling liquids into a sizzling wok. Smoke, steam and the amazing aromas of fresh Thai food waft into the air and all the senses are engaged on the busy city streets of Thailand.
Food stalls pop up all over the streets, what looks like a garage by day turns into restaurants filled with plastic furniture and parking lots are turned into food markets. Given their space most stalls and street restaurants specialise in a few dishes, sometimes just one, something that can be prepared easily and cooked quickly.
Keep an eye out for these treats of the streets.
Som tam used to be considered poor man’s food but now this spicy papaya salad is a local favorite. While it sounds light and sweet, Som tam packs a punch. There are two sorts, tum Thai is milder and sweeter version with crushed peanuts and tum Lao is a fiery dish with salty little crabs in it.
A dish of pork, a few vegetables usually Chinese broccoli and noodles served in a bowl of thick gravy. You can usually choose your noodles, for something different try mee grob, a crispy deep-fried egg noodle.
A favorite among locals and tourists alike, pad Thai is fried noodles with tofu and dried shrimp. Depending on your budget you can add fresh shrimp to the mix, and though it’s not traditional chicken and pork. It is usually made with thin rice noodles but you often see it nowadays with more health conscious clear bean noodles. Make sure you add some extra bean shoots, crushed peanuts and a squeeze of lime.
Thai fish cakes are made using ground fish, red curry paste, egg, string beans and shredded kaffir lime leaves giving them the powerful punch that makes them so popular. They are usually served with a slightly sweet sauce to counteract the curry. Thai fish cakes have a unique texture so find a stall that specialises in just fish cakes for the best ones.
Pad krapow moo
One of the most popular street food dishes, Pad Krapow moo is fried pork with basil though any meat can be used. It is minced or cut finely and cooked with garlic, chilli and the standard dash of fish sauce then tossed with Holy basil and served with rice.
Is it safe?
Thai people eat several meals a day and many from street stalls. Eat where the locals are eating and to be safe, make sure the food is fresh and cooked in front of you.
If you're looking for a less casual dining experience, try one of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai.