The plethora of dishes available in this country were, undoubtedly, some of the best I have ever tasted. Myriad curries, fresh fish, tofu cooked and served in endless variations; every day a mouth-watering meal to sample. Winding alleyways in street food night markets, brimming with choice. From baked bananas, to chocolate pancakes, to coconut ice cream drizzled with thick condensed milk. With each meal costing between 50p – £3 there was NO excuse not to try it all.
Here are just a few of my favourite dishes!
These blue pancakes are coloured by a local flower that was growing on an island we stayed on called Koh Muk. Coconut is used to flavour the mixture, creating a light fluffy and sponge-like texture.
Red, green and yellow curries. A rainbow of choice with endlessly varying recipes so that no two dishes are the same. Do not be fooled into relating these colours to some sort of traffic light order. The red is not always the spiciest, just as the green is rarely mild. Kaffir leaves, from Kaffir Lime, gives this dish its unique zesty undercurrent of flavour.
TOM YAM KO:
This is a soup that tastes similar to red curry. It is filled with prawns, squid and varieties of white fish to form an aromatic and spicy mixture.
I practiced making this in a cooking class with tofu instead of chicken. It can also be made with just vegetables (but I have fallen in love with tofu)! Cinnamon and star anise give this curry a deeper and sweeter taste, reminding me of Christmas. Turmeric, onion, curry powder and garlic are all added as with most curries. Massaman curry paste is also required. We were asked to sprinkle a small amount of sugar into the sauce but I ignored this and I think it tasted just as good without! We also added Thai eggplant, which look like oversized peas and grow on trees!
Here is a picture of the one I made!
PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE:
Every curry is served with rice. Usually, the cheapest option is a creamy white rice cooked with coconut milk. However, if you are feeling FANCY then this rice option is so filling it is really a meal by itself. Chunks of pineapple are cooked with the rice in its final stage. The rice is seasoned with curry powder, garlic, a splash of soy sauce, and turmeric which gives a brilliant yellow colour to the grains. The rice is often served in a hollowed out pineapple half, with crushed cashew nuts and spring onions sprinkled on top.
The option of ‘Thai Spicy’ is given. This is INCREDIBLY hot, and left my mouth on fire and my lips with a swelling that no amount of milk or cool ice cream could dilute for an hour or so!
The salad is made with strips of papaya, beans and tomato. These are dressed heavily with lime juice, crushed peanuts, chilli, garlic and fish sauce. Since it is served cold, it makes a very refreshing lunch…as long as the spice is regulated!!!
These can be served fried or, for a healthier option, raw. Rice vermicelli (thin rice noodles), basil, mint, lettuce, cucumber and whatever else you fancy are rolled inside rice wrappers. We added thinly sliced crab sticks which provided a strong, salty kick. These can be dipped in soy sauce, sweet chilli, or any sort of dip you like!
I will definitely be making these as a simple healthy snack, or even lunch, in England!
Arguably the most famous and loved of all of Thailand’s dishes. Perhaps this is because it is sold on practically every street corner late into the night. Enormous frying pans are lined with a selection of noodles of different textures and sizes. These are then heated by the vendor with a mixture of vegetables – such as bean sprouts and leeks – combined with a single egg. The noodles are served to you on a takeaway plate and you are able to pile crushed peanuts and chilli powder on top (as well as as much sweet chilli sauce as you like!)…All for under £1. YUMMY.
These are also sold by most street vendors. Large hunks of tofu are grilled and chopped into bitesize chunks. The tofu is served in a pot with a toothpick to eat with. Sweet honey oil is drizzled on top, as well as a sprinkling of crumbled cashew nuts.
Last but not least, I tried this fish in a food market in Chaing Mai in the north of Thailand. We selected our favourite fish which cost no more than £4 and served three of us. The skin of the fish was covered in hunks of crunchy sea salt, contrasting with the texture of the soft white fish inside which melted in the mouth. This was served on a giant banana leaf.
All of these meals were washed down with the cool and refreshing local beer, CHANG.