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10 Favorite Thai Street Food

July 30th, 2009 by

The people of Thailand normally eat small portions of food several times in one day; thus, street food is thriving in Bangkok and other Thai cities.  Food vendors will tend to specialize in one dish, but as they are bunched up together along the streets, you can pick and choose from a variety of simple and affordable dishes.

Here are 10 Thai street food you must try in your visit to Thailand:

Kanom Krok
Grilled Coconut Pancake (Kanom Krok): A mixture of flour batter and coconut cream cooked in a dimpled cast-iron pan over a charcoal fire. After the flour mix is cooked, a sweet coconut milk topping is added, resulting in a treat that’s crispy on the outside yet soft in the middle.

Pan-fried Mussel Cake (Hoi Thod): Mussels that are mixed into flour and pan-fried with egg, then topped with bean sprout and sweet-spicy sauce made with rice vinegar, chili and sugar.

boat noodles
Boat Noodles (Kew Teuw Leur): Beef broth added with beef balls, beef slices and a heaping serving of rice noodles. This dish is so-called because it is served from small boats along the canals and rivers of Thailand.

Tom Yum Soup:
A broth made with lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallots, lime juice, tamarind, ginger slices and crushed chili peppers, and added with prawns, seafood and mushrooms. Chopped coriander is sprinkled on top before serving.

Sticky Rice with Mango: A classic dessert, this simple yet delicious dish is simply ripe mangoes served with glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and sugar, then topped with sesame seeds. It has a sweet and savory flavor, plus provides a nutritious blend of Vitamin C and electrolytes.

Red Pork with Rice (Khao Moo Daeng): Thin-sliced barbecued pork on rice, covered with a sweet red sauce. It’s best eaten with lime juice mixed with soy sauce together with fresh spring onion and boiled egg.

Gai Yang (Barbequed Chicken on a Stick): Chicken that is marinated with a blend of fish sauce, garlic, turmeric, coriander and white pepper, and grilled over a low heat for a long time. Gai Yang is commonly served with sticky rice and tammakhoung (a salad made from shredded unripened papaya).

Pan-fried Insects:
Carnivals and markets feature huge  woks bubbling with deep-fried insects, such as ants, grasshoppers and cockroaches. A tip for newbies is start small, as they will taste like whatever they’re flavored with.

Durian: A controversial “king of fruit” that is loved and hated by all sorts of people who encounter it. Looking like a spiky version of a jackfruit, durian has large, fleshy parts with a consistency of soft bananas, but the fruit’s aroma stinks like rotten onions with a men’s locker room.

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao):
Broad rice noodles stir-fried in soy cause, fish sauce, garlic, meat and/or tofu, bean sprouts and various seasonings. This flavor-packed  meal is so-called because it’s a favorite after-drinking session dish by Thai employees who are out late.

Among the many streets that are festooned with vendors, one district stands out as a food-lover’s paradise. Saochingcha is pedestrian cuisine at its finest, where clean floors and tables, and cooks who have been perfecting the craft for decades are ready to fulfill your gastronomic desires. To get to Saochinga in Bangkok, tell the taxi driver to drop you off the “giant swing”, a tall red monument that’s popular in the city, then look directly at the massive building with the elephant symbol in the middle, which is known as Bangkok City Hall. Head towards the left to Mahannop Road, a street filled with food vendors.

Vendors will usually mild things down for foreigners, so if you want your food spicy, make sure to ask for it phet phet; if you want something milder, say, “mai phet”. It’s also fine to combine food from different vendors. Finally, even the most basic of food stalls provide a range  of condiments from dried shrimp, peanuts, hot pepper flakes, spiced vinegar, to soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce and sweet and sour sauce.

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