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Thai Cuisine

AsiaSoutheast AsiaThailand

Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Blending elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components. The spiciness of Thai cuisine is well known. As with other Asian cuisines, balance, detail and variety are of great significance to Thai chefs. Thai cuisine is extremely popular due to the blending of the four fundamental tastes of saltiness, sourness, spiciness and sweetness.

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In Thailand, sharing food is part of the culture. If you head to any outdoor eating area or market, you will see people sharing either a Thai BBQ or Hot Pot. For travellers to Thailand, this may seem a bit daunting; either how to order or to eat

Moo Graathaa

First is the Thai BBQ or Moo Graathaa; the name literally means ‘pork pan’ in Thai, though often seafood, chicken or beef are also included. It resembles a combination of a Korean BBQ and a Chinese Hot Pot, with broth almost like a moat surrounding the domed grill plate. The Thai version is heated over charcoal, whereas in other parts of Asia, a small gas cylinder may be used. You are served a variety of sliced meats or seafood plus a raw egg on the same plate; the egg is mixed in with the proteins ready to go on the BBQ plate. A healthy serving of greens, vegetables and vermicelli noodles are also brought to the table; these go directly into the broth.

5 Top foods to try in Thailand

Moo Graathaa

To round out the meal, several dipping sauces are served. A piece of lard is then placed on top of the BBQ; this melts and prevents the proteins from sticking to the grill; plus it helps flavour the broth as it melts. Then it’s all up to you how long you grill the proteins. Wilt the greens and noodles and choose sauces to flavour the end result.

The egg coats the outside of your chosen proteins and cooks right along with them, adding additional flavour and texture. When ready, ladle the broth into the small bowls and away you go. It’s a delicious meal that everyone can enjoy. You can choose different proteins to cook and grab more broth as required. It’s all about sharing and enjoying the activity of cooking at your table.

Thai Roti from a Street Vendor in Chiang Mai

Chim Chum

The second you will see is the Thai Hot Pot or Chim Chum; the name literally means ‘dip and drop’ in Thai. Chim means to ‘dip in’ while Chum means to ‘drop something briefly into liquid’. Chim Chum, or Jim Jum, is a popular Thai street food believed to have originated in Laos or Cambodia.

It is traditionally made with chicken or pork, however seafood is very popular as well. Served with fresh herbs and cooked in broth in a small clay pot over charcoal. The clay pot is brought to the table and filled with broth. When the broth is boiling, you add the vegetables, proteins, noodles and herbs.

Thai Street Food in Koh Samui, Thailand

Chim Chum

Again, a raw egg is mixed with the protein to add texture and flavour to the meat and broth. Remove each item as they are cooked and place in your bowl. Ladle in some broth and flavour with the dipping sauces and eat. It is a very sociable way to eat and also one of the healthiest dishes you will find here in Thailand.

I find that generally the broth is more flavoursome here in Thailand compared to those I have tried elsewhere in Asia. The addition of the spicy dipping sauces allows you to make the flavour ‘your own’ and is very suitable for the whole family; it’s healthy and delicious.

How Healthy is Thai Food?

Steamed or Grilled Fish

Nothing beats a steamed fish topped with lime and lemongrass or fish or prawns grilled using a salt crust. These are normally served with fresh herbs and lettuce, allowing you to wrap the flesh and devour them.

Mlang Kham

This one bite morsel is a super-nutritional flavour bomb. Finely chopped raw ingredients like shallots, garlic, ginger, chilli, lime and peanuts are placed in a Cha Phlu leaf, similar to a Betel leaf, then wrapped and popped in your mouth. The explosion of flavour is intoxicating, yet the healthiness of this small package is often overlooked.

Laaap

A laap is a warm salad of minced meat, often chicken or pork, as well as sliced onions and lots of herbs with a spicy dressing. It’s normally served with a side dish of Thai basil, cucumber, cabbage and snake beans.

Tom Yum Goong Nam Sai

Often served with coconut milk, this famous Thai dish is full of protein and packed with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir limes leaves and tomatoes. When ordered ‘nam sai’, the coconut milk is replaced with broth. It is clear and full of flavour, yet with that hit of chilli for lovers of spice.

Nam Prik and Vegetables

In every market around Thailand you can buy a large range of nam priks; basically dipping sauces. Some are designed for dipping meats into, yet there are others, such as Nam Prik Kapi, which are designed to be eaten with fresh, raw vegetables like snake beans, wing beans or eggplant. They are great as a snack or to eat as part of a balanced Thai meal.

Gai or Moo Yaang

Nothing really beats marinated chicken or pork grilling over hot coals. Served with a simple dipping sauce like Nam Jim Jaew, this is low in carbs and high in protein; there is nothing better.

Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand

Chim Chum

This is a great way to cleanse the body. A broth bubbles away in a pot at your table. To this you add leafy greens to wilt, various proteins mixed with egg are added and once cooked, you pick out what you want.

Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand

Som Tam

Close to the national dish of Thailand, this raw dish of fresh ingredients like green papaya, tomato, carrot and snake beans is just the thing on a hot day. Alternatively, try it with other fruits like green mango or even sweetcorn to give it that extra vegetable kick.


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