The south of Thailand is known for many things – beautiful vistas, picturesque islands, and a relaxed pace of life. One thing that perhaps doesn’t get the attention it deserves is its food. Southern Thai foods tend to be much hotter than Thai food from other regions of Thailand and are heavily influenced by flavors and spices used in Indonesia and Malaysia. Thai cuisine is ready to establish itself as the best food in the country, and here’s a list of dishes to try before it does.
Gaeng Massaman: No Pork Curry
The word “massaman” is a more ancient way of saying the word “Muslim.” Back in the day, most of the dry, aromatic spices were introduced and brought into Thailand by the early Muslim merchants. Hence, this one of the famous southern Thai foods doesn’t make use of pork as a protein, preferably, beef, chicken, mutton, or lamb. This thick, flavorsome and hearty curry would quickly warm the hearts of people and can accompany a plate of steaming hot jasmine rice.
Gaeng Tai Pla: Spicy Fish Soup
It’s a thick fish soup, more like a multidimensional stew with layers of complex flavor. The ingredients are a combination of fish viscera, grilled fish, fermented shrimp paste, eggplant, pumpkin, string beans, and bamboo shoots. Just like in a lot of southern Thai foods, it’s the dried chilies, garlic, red onions, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and turmeric that give gaeng tai pla that invigorating push.
Khao Mok: Invigorating Southern Thai Foods
While this dish is available in other cities, nobody makes it quite like the south of Thailand. A favorite of the south’s sizeable Muslim community, khao mok sees turmeric-infused yellow rice served alongside chicken, all cooked together in the same pot with the turmeric flavor spreading to and staining the soft chicken. Garnished with fried shallots and cucumber and served with a sweet chili sauce, it’s a dish that alone makes it worth coming down south.
Khao Yam: Southern Thai Rice Salad
Khao yam is a fragrant rice salad where grated coconut, dry shredded shrimp, and a host of herbs are the dominating ingredients. Micro-sliced kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, pennywort, and turmeric leaves are among the blend of spices that complete khao yam. The rice salad is mixed together and dressed with a slightly sweet fish sauce. The best tools to make this dish are Thai-style granite mortar and pestle, which involves pounding aromatic ingredients to bits before incorporating them into room-temperature rice. Traditionally, it includes a pungent leaf known as skunk vine or stink vine; if unavailable, you can omit it.
Gaeng Khua Kling: Fiery Southern Thai Curry
Unlike the thin gaeng som, gaeng kua kling is a dry curry that’s exceptionally spicy. The curry includes chili, pepper, lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, galangal, salt, and shrimp paste, which combine to make a paste that even Thais will struggle to eat without sweating. The meat – usually beef, pork, or chicken – is roasted with kaffir leaves and the curry paste, absorbing the spice in the process. Gaeng khua kling is considered one of the spiciest southern Thai foods.
Satay: Southern Thai Foods Skewered
Satay is skewered meat of any kind (more commonly, chicken, pork, beef, and lamb) marinated with turmeric and a bunch of secret herbs and spices unique to each vendor and barbecued or grilled over a charcoal or wooden flame. A spicy, peanut dipping sauce and some pickled salad consist of some cucumber, onions, carrots, and sliced chili that pairs the savory satay. The sweet, spicy peanut dipping sauce has freshly grounded and roasted peanuts cooked in creamy, thick coconut milk, combined with an intricate blend of fresh and dried spices, which has seasonings such as palm sugar, tamarind, shrimp paste, and fish sauce.
Gaeng Sataw: Southern Thai Foods Bean Curry
Any combination of food made with sataw, which translates to “stink bean,” is a sure sell-out at any southern restaurant. The bean, which certainly lives up to its name, is both delicious when cooked and extremely healthy. Stink beans are often stir-fried with a choice of meat or pre-made in a variety of curries. Made with sataw – a bean that rivals durian in the smell stakes – that’s fried alongside shrimp paste and meat, gaeng sataw is a popular and healthy choice that’s sure to go down a treat in any southern restaurant. Once eating, you’ll soon forget the smell of beans and instead be focusing on their delicious taste and the spice of the curry. Crunchy, delicious, and a perfect curry ingredient, sataw is a delightful bean, and gaeng sataw is a great dish to taste on your travels.
Nam prik goong siap: Southern Thai Spicy Sauce
Nam prik goong siap is one of the more popular nam prik (spicy sauce) variations that is one of the authentic southern Thai foods. The intricate paste is a pestle pounded mixture composed of dried shrimp, fermented shrimp paste, fiery chilies, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, and a sprinkle of brown sugar to level things off. When made correctly, all ingredients should even each other out in a harmonious sauce that is not too shrimpy, just sour enough, and perfectly balanced. To serve nam prik goong siap, it is a dip along with a garden of freshly cut vegetables.
Gaeng Som Pla: Sour Fish Curry
The most distinct characteristic of this curry is the tartness from the tamarind. To balance out the flavor of the curry, adding palm sugar sweetens it. The yellow curry paste consists of shallots, turmeric, salt, dried chilies, and shrimp paste, pounded into a smooth, aromatic paste. The paste is then added into a pot with water and left to boil. The curry can use fish or large prawns. This dish can complement with jasmine rice, and it is a soupy-style curry.
Tom Som Pla Krabok: Southern Thai Fishy Soup
Another sour, fishy soup that is popular in southern Thai foods is tom som pla krabok. Overall, it’s not quite as fiery as gaeng som, but it just might be one of the sourest soups that Thailand has to offer. Every spoonful is a tongue smack of acidity that results in an outward frown, but internal delight. Along with the delightful sourness, the soup is a fusion of turmeric root, shredded ginger, and tamarind juice.
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All of the above soups have amazing flavors with the best satisfying creativity. If you are looking for a place to try out one of these Thai soups! Yummy Thai Irving is the perfect destination for you!
Why not visit our authentic Thai restaurant in Irving with your family or friends for nice Thai soups? There’s nothing like a family bonding with satisfied, full stomachs!
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