5 Thai dishes you’ve got to try

It’s no secret that both Florence and I absolutely love Thai food. Renowned all over the world, Thai cuisine is famous for it’s mouth watering spiciness, variety of ingredients and gentle medicinal properties.

visa extension chiang mai

We don’t particularly care about any associated medicinal properties – we just love the taste of the food. Full Stop!

Thai recipes are based on the 5 flavours:

  • Spicy
  • Salty
  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Bitter

In addition to these flavours, there’s another ingredient that is used in almost every dish – Fish sauce!

You may think this sounds a little disgusting, but it’s actually pretty tasty.

Thai food can be eaten on its own or with rice and steamed rice is the main staple food in general, but in northern Thailand sticky rice is where it’s at.

Deciding on our top 5 Thai dishes wasn’t easy as there are so many delicious dishes to choose from. After much deliberation and lots of pondering over dinner, we’ve finally agreed that the following 5 are most definitely among our favourites.

My personal favourite is a Thai Green Curry while Florence has a severe weakness for chicken with cashew nuts. Anyway, let’s see what other dishes we think are worth sampling when in Thailand…

1. Red Curry with Chicken (gaeng phet)

thai red curry

Thai Red Curry

This popular dish (with visitors as well as locals) is made from a curry paste and coconut milk is added. The main ingredients used are; red chilli peppers, garlic, shallots, salt, shrimp, kaffir lime peel, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, lemongrass and peppercorns.

A variety of meat can be added, but we’ve just had it with chicken most the time. I’ve tried it with shrimp on a few occasions, but I prefer the chicken as there’s more of a bite to it.

The dish has a soup like consistency and is served with steamed rice. I normally just bung the rice in on top of the soup and mix everything together.

2. Spicy Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

spicy papaya salad

Spicy Papaya Salad

Som Tam is used very frequently by Thai people to describe immensely spicy and sour flavours. The literal translation of the phrase Som Tam is “sour pounded”. Better known to us all as Papaya salad – it’s made from a delicious mix of fresh vegetables which includes papaya, tomatoes, and yardlong beans.

The vegetables and spicy salad dressing are pounded in a mortar using a pestle so that the ingredients are fused together to create a cracking lightweight dish that would have you coming out in a hot sweat if you asked for a “really spicy” variation – and I say this from experience!

Been there, done that and never doing it again!

Normally the dish is served on its own, but you can ask for grilled chicken to be added on top with rice too. If you don’t want to burn the mouth off yourself then make sure you say “Mai phed” when ordering it as this means “not spicy”.

3. Chicken with cashew nuts (Gai Med Ma Moung)

chicken with cashew nuts

Chicken with Cashew Nuts

I’ll be honest, before this current trip to Thailand I had avoided even trying this dish.


Simply because I thought the nuts would get in the way of me enjoying the food. I was wrong of course.

A big high five to the clever person who discovered that nuts and chicken were such a mouth-watering combination! This dish has quickly become one of my personal favourites and we’ve had it countless times for lunch/dinner over the past few months.

The ingredients are roasted cashew nuts, honey, garlic, sweet soy sauce and the mandatory chilli! Yes, you can’t have food this good without a little pain added into the mix!

Chicken with cashew nuts is probably one of the most popular dishes in Thailand with visitors. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with this classic.

4. Green Curry with Chicken (Geng Kheaw Wan Gai)

green curry with Chicken

Green Curry with Chicken

Ah yes! The pinnacle of Thai food, in my opinion anyway. When it comes to the amount of times that I’ve eaten this dish, it’s easily into triple figures – yes I did say triple!

I’ve tried it back home in Ireland at “authentic” Thai restaurants, as well as in other countries on our travels but they’ve never tasted remotely like what you get out here. Obviously, this is down to the ingredients.

Again, we prefer to enjoy the soup like consistency with chicken and rice. It has a nice blend of spiciness which is derived from the green chilli paste. It also has sweetness from the sugar, saltiness from the fish sauce and the boredom of coconut milk added into it.

Green curry with chicken is without a doubt my favourite Thai dish and one that I’ll enjoy right after I finish this post!

5. Chicken noodle soup (Kuay Tiew Gai)

chicken noodle soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Get the chopsticks ready – it’s kung fu style for this one. And, while you’re at it, get your slurping muscles ready too, as noodle soup is one of the staple meals in Thai culture and is available everywhere. It’s quick and easy to prepare and has an addicting taste – especially when you add in your own mix of chilli and fish sauce.

Noodle soup can be served in a variety of ways. The noodles themselves can come in many different forms, and they’re served in a broth which can include any type of meat you desire. Again, we prefer chicken!

We love combining a chicken noodle soup with papaya salad after a gym workout – mainly because our favourite restaurant to eat them in is right beside the gym!

Some of you may be wondering why we’ve left out Pad thai from the list. Honestly, we’ve had plenty of it on previous trips to Thailand, but we’re not mad about it. I think what put us off was getting those slimy glass noodles with it (even though we’ve asked for normal noodles plenty of times). It’s hit and miss we’ve found.

There are so many other dishes that we could have added to this list, but these are definitely our top 5. In our last post on the top 7 reasons to live in Thailand we included food as one of them and in our view, the food in Thailand is most definitely one of the reasons why so many people love it here.

We craved Thai food for most of last year while we were travelling in South America as re-fried chicken and beans served with rice just didn’t cut it for us. For now, we’re happy to have the option of eating this amazing food as and when we please.

Hmmm…speaking about eating, I think it’s time to get that Thai Green Curry that I spoke about earlier!

What is your favourite Thai dish? Have you any recommendations that you’d like to share with us? We’re always willing to try new things!