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Bangkok Travel & Tourism Guide

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Thai Seafood CurryThai Food in Bangkok

See our pages for recommended restaurants and drinking establishments - the list is divided by the into districts of Bangkok with a separate page for each area.

Thai cuisine is known for its balance of five fundamental flavors in each dish or the overall meal - hot (spicy), sour, sweet, salty and bitter (optional). Although popularly considered as a single cuisine, Thai food is really better described as four regional cuisines corresponding to the four main regions of the country: Northern, Northeastern (or Isan), Central and Southern. Southern curries, for example, tend to contain coconut milk and fresh turmeric, while northeastern dishes often include lime juice. Thai cuisine has been greatly influenced by its neighbors, especially India, China, Malaysia, Laos. Many dishes are in fact Chinese dishes adopted to local tastes.

Influence and Western popularity

Thai food is known for its enthusiastic use of fresh (rather than dried) herbs and spices as well as fish sauce.

Thai food is popular in many Western countries especially in Australia, New Zealand, some countries in Europe such as the United Kingdom, as well as the United States, and Canada.

Serving

Instead of a single main course with side dishes found in Western cuisine, a Thai full meal typically consists of either a single dish or rice khao (Thai: ข้าว) with many complementary dishes served concurrently.

Rice is a staple component of Thai cuisine, as it is of most Asian cuisines. The highly prized, sweet-smelling jasmine rice is indigenous to Thailand. This naturally aromatic long-grained rice grows in abundance in the verdant patchwork of paddy fields that blanket Thailand's central plains. Steamed rice is accompanied by highly aromatic curries, stir-frys and other dishes, incorporating sometimes large quantities of chillies, lime juice and lemon grass. Curries, stir-frys and others may be poured onto the rice creating a single dish called khao rad gang (Thai: ข้าวราดแกง), a popular meal when time is limited. Sticky rice khao neow (Thai: ข้าวเหนียว) is a unique variety of rice that contains an unusual balance of the starches present in all rice, causing it to cook up to a sticky texture. It is the daily bread of Laos and substitutes ordinary rice in rural Northern and Northeastern Thai cuisine, where Lao cultural influence is strong.

Noodles, known throughout parts of Southeast Asia by the Chinese name kwaytiow, are popular as well but usually come as a single dish, like the stir-fried Pad Thai (Thai: ผัดไทย) or noodle soups. Many Chinese cuisine are adapted to suit Thai taste, such as khuaytiow rue, a sour and spicy rice noodle soup.

There is a uniquely Thai dish called nam prik (Thai: น้ำพริก) which refers to a chile sauce or paste. Each region has its own special versions. It is prepared by crushing together chillies with various ingredients such as garlic and shrimp paste using a mortar and pestle. It is then often served with vegetables such as cucumbers, cabbage and yard-long beans, either raw or blanched. The vegetables are dipped into the sauce and eaten with rice. Nam prik may also be simply eaten alone with rice or, in a bit of Thai and Western fusion, spread on toast.

Thai food is generally eaten with a fork and a spoon. Chopsticks are used rarely, primarily for the consumption of noodle soups. The fork, held in the left hand, is used to shovel food into the spoon. However, it is common practice for Thais and hill tribe peoples in the North and Northeast to eat sticky rice with their right hands by making it into balls that are dipped into side dishes and eaten. Thai-Muslims also frequently eat meals with only their right hands.

Often Thai food is served with a variety of spicy condiments to embolden dishes. This can range from dried chili pieces, or sliced chili peppers in rice vinegar, to a spicy chili sauce such as the nam prik mentioned above.

Famous dishes

Many Thai dishes are familiar in the West. In many dishes below, different kinds of protein can be chosen as the ingredient, such as beef, chicken, pork, tofu or seafood. 

    * Pad Thai (Thai: ผัดไท) - rice noodles pan fried with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice or tamarind pulp, chopped peanuts, and egg combined with chicken, seafood, and tofu

    * Rad na (Thai: ราดหน้า) - wide rice noodles in gravy, with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, or seafood. (Originally from China)

    * Khao pad naem (Thai: ข้าวผัดแหนม) - fried rice with fermented sausage (typically from the Northeast)

    * Pad see ew (Thai: ผัดซีอิ๊ว) - noodles stir-fried with see ew dum (thick soy sauce) and nahm plah (fish sauce) and pork or chicken.

    * Pad kee mao (Thai: ผัดขี้เมา) - noodles stir-fried with Thai basil

    * Khao khluk kapi (Thai: ข้าวคลุกกะปิ) - rice stir-fried with shrimp paste, served with sweeten pork and vegetables.

    * Khanom chin namya (Thai: ขนมจีนน้ำยา) - round boiled rice noodles topped with various curry sauces and eaten with fresh leaves and vegetables.

    * Khao soi (Thai: ข้าวซอย) - crispy wheat noodles in sweet chicken curry soup (a Northern dish)

    * Khao pad gai (Thai: ข้าวผัดไก่) - fried rice with chicken

    * Kaphrao gai (Thai: กระเพราไก่) - minced chicken in sauce made up of a combination of hot green chilies, garlic, and basil

    * Gai himaphan (Thai: ไก่หิมพานต์) - juicy chunks of chicken with cashew nuts and chilies

 

 

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