Famous Thai Dishes

In a research study on the popularity of Thai food among foreigners, "แนวทางการสร้างอาหารไทยเป็นอาหารโลกในสิบปีข้างหน้า" (Finding Thailand's Place in World Cuisine in the Next Ten Years), the researcher interviewed 1,001 foreigners from 68 countries on five continents - Europe, Asia, the Americas, Australia, and Africa - who had come to Thailand between December 1999 and February 2000. The interviews took place at various places, such as the departure areas of Bangkok International Airport and Phuket International Airport; at tourist attractions in Chiang Mai and Bangkok; and other places where foreigners were likely to be, such as an UNCTAD conference, Bang Sai Vocational Training Center, and the Board of Investment Fair 2000.

Almost two thirds of the respondents were male, over a third were female. Most of them were tourists between 26 and 45 years old, and for most, this was their first time in Thailand.

The research showed that 96.3 percent of the respondents liked the spicy, sour, sweet, and salty tastes of Thai food. It also revealed that the 12 most popular dishes were spicy shrimp soup ( tom yam kung), stir-fried Thai noodles ( phat thai), green curry with chicken ( kaeng khiew wan kai), grilled pork and peanut sauce ( satay), spicy chicken curry in coconut milk ( tom kha kai), fried marinated chicken wrapped in pandanus leaf ( kai ho bai toei), grilled chicken ( kai yang), sticky rice ( khao niao), spicy papaya salad ( som tam), deep-fried spicy fish dumpling ( tot man pla krai), stir-fried rice with basil ( phat kaphrao), and spicy grilled beef salad ( yam nuea yang).

At the same time of the year, the National Culture Committee, in conjunction with Top Ten Television Program, broadcast on Channel 9 of the Mass Communication Organization of Thailand, had conducted a similar survey about popular Thai food among foreigners, with similar results. In this survey, the most popular kinds of food were tom yam kung, kaeng khiao wan, phat thai, phat kaphrao, hot curry with roast duck ( kaeng phet pet yang), tom kha kai, yam nuea yang, satay, stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts ( kai phat met mamuang himaphan), and thick curry with beef ( kaeng phanaeng nuea).

Surveys made later showed that foreigners still preferred generally the same Thai dishes, such as grilled chicken served with sticky rice, som tam, kai ho bai toei, and tot man pla krai.

A book that came out in July 2002, A Manual for Thai Chefs Going Abroad, published by the Food Sanitation Division under the Health Department of the Public Health Ministry, provides detailed information about recruitment, training, hygiene, the sanitation criteria of various countries, preparations necessary for those who want to work in Thai restaurants in foreign countries, and ways to meet the standards for Thai restaurants. The book also classifies the popularity of 10 food items among foreigners; the list is similar to the lists from the surveys above.

For persons visiting or living in Thailand and interested in Thai cooking, there is a Thai cooking manual published by Bangkok's world-famous Oriental Hotel: The Oriental Thai Cooking School and the Oriental Professional Thai Chef Program.

Spicy blue river prawn soup with lemongrass and straw mushrooms

For the prawn stock
400 grm. Prawn heads
1900 grm. Water
40 grm. Galangal roots, crushed
20 grm. Lemongrass, crushed
10 grm. Coriander roots, crushed
2 pcs. Kaffir lime leaves
- Mix the prawn heads, plain water, galangal roots, lemongrass, coriander roots, and kaffir lime leaves and boil together for stock, and then strain.

For the spicy prawns soup

1440 grm. Prawn stock (from above)
40 grm. Chili paste
12 grm. Galangal roots, shredded
12 grm. Lemongrass, thinly sliced
1 grm. Kaffir lime leaves, shredded
132 grm. Straw mushrooms, halved and boiled
108 grm. Fish sauce
56 grm. Lime juice
256 grm. Blue river prawns, shelled, deveined, and cleaned (8 pcs.)
8 grm. Bird's eye chilies, crushed
- Heat prawn stock over high heat. Add galangal roots, lemongrass, straw mushrooms and blue river prawns; bring to a boil.
- Season with chili paste, fish sauce, and lime juice.
- Add the kaffir lime leaves and bird's eye chilies.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and shredded big red chilies.

Green chicken curry with eggplant

Ingredients for green curry sauce
500 grm. Thick coconut milk
165 grm. Hot water
66 grm. Green curry paste
78 grm. Fish sauce
31 grm. Palm sugar
665 grm. Thin coconut milk
450 grm. Sliced chicken thigh
180 grm. Round eggplant (quartered)
30 grm. Pea eggplant
15 grm. Green pepper corns
15 grm. Long green bell pepper, shredded
9 grm. Big red chilies, shredded
20 grm. Sweet basil leaves (bai horapha)
3 grm. Lesser galangal roots, shredded
3 grm. Kaffir lime leaves, shredded
- Heat thick coconut milk over medium high heat; leave it to reduce until coconut oil comes to the surface. Add hot water.
- Add green curry paste to stir-fry until fragrant. Season with fish sauce, palm sugar.
- Add the chicken thigh to stir-fry, and then add round eggplants (quartered), pea eggplants. Keep stirring until cooked.
- Add thin coconut milk and keep boiling. Mix in the green pepper corns, long green bell pepper, big red chilies, sweet basil leaves (bai horapha), lesser galangal, kaffir lime leaves. Leave it to boil again.

Thai-style stir-fried noodles with prawns

Ingredients for phat thai chili paste
66 grm. Dry red big chili, soaked
83 grm. Deep-fried shallot
57 grm. White fermented soya bean
135 grm. Water
200 grm. Cooking oil
- Mix red big chili, shallot, water, cooking oil and fermented soy bean into blender. Blend until smooth; then add and stir in a pan.

Ingredients for phat thai sauce
175 grm. Tamarind juice
175 grm. Fish sauce
500 grm. Palm sugar
- Mix all together and simmer. Skim until clear and caramelize.

Ingredients for phat thai (1 portion)
90 grm. Small dry noodle
50-80 grm. Bean sprout
10 grm. Chinese spring onion
8 grm. Dry shrimp, deep-fried
1 Chicken egg
10 grm. Tofu, deep-fried
25 grm. Phat thai chili paste
57 grm. Phat thai sauce
5 grm. Deep-fried shrimp
10 grm. Ground peanut
50 grm. Blue river prawn, deveined
Condiment with lime and banana blossom
- Heat oil then put phat thai paste, egg, blue river prawn; then add noodle and seasoning with phat thai sauce and Chinese spring onion, bean sprout. Stir well.
- Serve with lime juice, bean sprout, and banana blossom.

Spring rolls

150 grm. Jelly noodles (5 cm. long)
90 grm. Bean sprout
100 grm. Black jelly mushroom (shredded)
100 grm. Chicken breast (minced)
110 grm. Crab meat
31 grm. Coriander root, garlic (minced)
14 grm. White sugar
15.5 grm. Light soy sauce
5.5 grm. Salt
500 grm. Spring roll sheet
50 grm. Cooking oil
10 grm. Ground white pepper
- Heat the oil (slightly hot); add coriander root and garlic; stir until fragrant.
- Add chicken breast, crab meat, jelly mushroom, and bean sprout; then season with white sugar, light soya sauce, salt, and ground pepper.
- Stir until well-cooked.
- Wrap small portion of the mixture above with spring roll sheet and seal with wheat flour mixed with water.
- Deep fry in moderately hot oil until golden brown.
- Serve with Chinese plum sauce or Sriracha chili sauce.

Red roasted duck curry

Ingredients of red curry sauce
66.5 grm. Red curry paste
165 grm. Hot water
500 grm. Pre-cooked coconut cream
665 grm. Boiled coconut milk
78 grm. Fish sauce
31.5 grm. Palm sugar
- Mix coconut cream with hot water, and heat over medium heat until oil separates.
- Then add the paste. Stir and season with fish sauce and palm sugar.
- Add coconut milk and boil.

350 grm. Red curry sauce
150 grm. Roasted duck
4 grm. Shredded red chili
10 grm. Green bell pepper
1 grm. Shredded kaffir lime leaves
5 grm. Seedless Chinese dried plum, boiled with red curry sauce
8 grm. Seedless green grapes
6 grm. Basil leaves
- Warm red curry sauce and add sliced grilled duck, Chinese plums, and green grapes.
- Before serving, garnish with shredded red chili, kaffir lime leaves, and basil leaves.

Stir-fried minced chicken with chilies and holy basil leaves

360 grm. Chicken, minced
25 grm. Small garlic cloves, chopped
14 grm. Bird's eye chilies (phrik khi nu), crushed
60 grm. Cooking oil
60 grm. Oyster sauce
30 grm. Fish sauce
5 grm. White sugar
2 grm. White pepper powder
15 grm. Black soya sauce
100 grm. Chicken broth
15 grm. Big red chilies (phrik chi fa), cut
20 grm. Green bell peppers (phrik yuak), cut
40 grm. Holy basil leaves (bai kaphrao)
12 grm. Crisp holy basil leaves, deep-fried
- Heat cooking oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and bird's eye chilies (phrik khi nu) and stir-fry until fragrant.
- Add minced chicken; keep stirring until cooked (during stir-frying add some chicken broth).
- Season with fish sauce, oyster sauce, white sugar, white pepper powder, black soya sauce and chicken broth; toss until well mixed.
- Add the big red chilies (phrik chi fa), green bell pepper (phrik yuak), holy basil leaves.
- Garnish with crisp holy basil leaves.

Coconut milk chicken soup with galangal

For the coconut milk broth
75 grm. Galangal roots, crushed
50 grm. Lemongrass, crushed
3 grm. Kaffir lime leaves
10 grm. Coriander roots
1425 grm. (1 1/2 liter) Hot water
525 grm. (1/2 liter) Thick coconut milk
100 grm. Fish sauce
100 grm. Lime juice
- Heat hot water, and thick coconut milk together over high heat; add the galangal roots, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander roots, and bring to a boil.
- Strain the mixture, season with fish sauce and lime juice. Continue boiling.

For the coconut milk chicken soup
980 grm. Coconut milk broth (from above)
400 grm. Chicken thigh, cut or sliced into bite pieces size
12 grm. Galangal roots, shredded
8 grm. Lemongrass, thinly sliced
2 grm. Kaffir lime leaves, shredded
96 grm. Straw mushrooms, halved and boiled
4 grm. Bird's eye chilies, crushed
100 grm. Thick coconut milk, boiled
30 grm. Fish sauce (optional)
- Heat coconut milk broth over high heat, add the chicken thigh, galangal roots, lemongrass, and straw mushrooms; bring to a boil.
- Add boiled thick coconut, milk and season with fish sauce. (If more flavor is prefered, then add the bird's eye chilies.)
- Add the kaffir lime leaves, just before removing from heat.
- Drop in some chili paste oil and garnish with coriander leaves and shredded big red chilies.

Spiced grilled beef salad with grapes

Ingredients for chili paste
20 grm. Sliced mint leaves and stems
10 grm. Peeled small garlic
5 grm. Small red chilies
- Blend all ingredients together until finely mixed.

Ingredients for salad (1 portion)
16 grm. Fish sauce
16 grm. Lime juice
10 grm. Sugar syrup (1 : 1 / water : white sugar)
12 grm. Chili paste from above
120 grm. Beef fillet (grilled and sliced)
12 grm. Finely sliced lemongrass
4 grm. Sliced mint leaves
1 grm. Shredded kaffir lime leaves
34 grm. Green and red grapes (cut in quarters and pitted)
- Mix fish sauce, lime juice, syrup, and chili paste together in a bowl. Then stir them well for dressing.
- Add sliced beef, lemongrass, mint leaves, kaffir lime leaves, and grapes in dressing. Toss them well.
- Garnish with some lettuce, mint leaves, and shredded big red chilies.

Grilled skewered pork with peanut sauce and cucumber salad relish

For the marinade
500 grm. Thick coconut milk
50 grm. White sugar
5 grm. Salt
5 grm. Turmeric powder
500 grm. Pork cut into size 1 1/2 cm. wide and 7 cm. long
12 grm. (2 tsp.) Ground roasted coriander seeds (for beef only)
- In a bowl of coconut milk, mix in the salt, white sugar, and turmeric powder. Stir until dissolved.
- Marinte the pork in the mixture, for one hour.
- Skewer the pieces and grill over moderate heat. Sprinkle the meat regularly with the coconut milk.
- Serve with peanut sauce, cucumber relish, and toast.

Cucumber relish

1/2 cup Vinegar
2 tbs. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
2 tbs. Cut red chilies
1/2 cup Sliced shallots
1 cup Sliced cucumber
Some coriander leaves
- Melt sugar and salt in the vinegar over low heat and let it cool down.
- To serve, add sliced cucumber, sliced shallots, and chilies in a cup and pour in the sauce. Sprinkle some coriander leaves for decoration.
- Charcoal grill or roast the marinated pork and serve with the sauce and the cucumber salad.


5 cups Medium-thick coconut milk
3 tbs. Red curry paste
4 tbs. Palm sugar
4 tbs. Fish sauce
3 tbs. Tamarind juice
1 cup Ground roasted peanuts
- Heat 2 cups of the coconut milk and fry the curry paste in it.
- Add fish sauce, sugar, and tamarind juice to taste, then the ground peanuts.
- Add the rest of the coconut milk and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts

150 grm. Chicken breast, sliced
22 grm. Baby corn, sliced
40 grm. White onion, sliced
8 grm. Spring onion, cut
35 grm. Straw mushroom, cut
5 grm. Big red chili, sliced
6 grm. Thai bell pepper
29 grm. Cashew nuts
20 grm. Light soy sauce
27 grm. Oyster sauce
0.7 grm. White pepper
1.3 grm. White sugar
270 grm. Chicken stock
110 grm. Garlic, sliced
30 grm. Vegetable oil
5 grm. Dry big red chili, cut, pitted, and deep-fried
- Stir-fry garlic in vegetable oil until nearly cooked.
- Add chicken breast and stir-fry again.
- Add baby corn, white onion, spring onion, straw mushroom, big red chili, Thai bell pepper, dry big red chili, and cashew nuts. Stir-fry until cooked.
- Add chicken stock.
- Season with light soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, and white sugar. Stir-fry until well mixed.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and thinly sliced big red chili.
- Remove from heat. Serve with steamed Thai jasmine rice.

Spicy green papaya salad

Ingredients for 1 serving
80 grm. Shredded green papaya
10 grm. Dry shrimp (soaked, pulverized, and roasted)
20 grm. Peanut (roasted and crushed)
10 grm. Cut string beans
30 grm. Cherry tomato (quartered)
20 grm. Palm sugar
1 1/2 grm. Lime juice
1 3/4 grm. Fish sauce
5 grm. Small garlic cloves
2 pcs. Small red chilies
- In a mortar, pound garlic and chilies together.
- Add peanuts, palm sugar, green papaya, string beans, and cherry tomato. Then keep pounding until well mixed.
- Season with fish sauce and lime juice. Mix in dry shrimp.

Grilled chicken

620 grm. Coconut cream
173 grm. Milk
120 grm. Sugar
30 grm. Salt
9 grm. Turmeric powder
25 grm. Minced coriander root
25 grm. Ground pepper
75 grm. Maggi sauce
30 grm. Chili sauce
- Mix coconut cream, milk, sugar, and salt together, and then add ground pepper, Maggi sauce, and chili sauce.
- Put in coriander root, and ground garlic and marinate them in the chicken.
- Marinate chicken for at least 2 hrs.
- Grill over medium hear for 20-25 minutes or roast at 180 degree celcius for 20 minutes.
- Serve with sticky rice and green papaya salad.

Steamed sticky rice

1 kg. Uncooked sticky rice
- Rinse sticky rice and soak overnight.
- Dry it, and then put the sticky rice on a sheet cloth and steam for 30 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir it.

Deep-fried honeyed chicken with sesame wrapped in pandanus leave

1kg. Diced chicken thigh
2tbsp. Coriander root, garlic, pepper powder
2tbsp. Falcon cream, 35% fat
2tbsp. Maggi sauce
2tbsp. Kikoman sauce
2tbsp. Chili sauce
2tbsp. Oyster sauce
2tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp. Sweet black bean sauce
1tbsp. Black bean sauce
2tbsp. White sugar
1tbsp. Sesame oil
1tbsp. Corn flour
- Marinate 1 hour before wrapping in pandanus leaf.
* Quantity: 20 pieces (50 grm each)

Ingredients for sauce
10 grm. Glucose
10 grm. Palm suger
2 tbsp. Sweet black bean sauce
2 tbsp. Black bean sauce
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Tomato sauce
1 tbsp. Chili sauce
1 tbsp. Maggi sauce

Phanaeng prawn, curry with lychee

Ingredients for phanaeng sauce
2 litres Coconut cream
600 ml. Pre-cooked coconut milk
340 ml. Hot water
200 grm. Phanaeng paste
234 grm. Fish sauce
114 grm. Palm sugar
- Heat coconut cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add water, stir until creamy.
- Add phanaeng paste until fragrant, and then season with fish sauce and palm sugar.
- Add coconut milk, and cook until boiling.

Ingredients for phanaeng
170 grm. Phanaeng sauce
10 grm. Ground peanuts
110 grm. Tiger prawn
Basil leaves
3 pcs. Fresh lychee
- Boil phanaeng curry sauce. Add deep-fried tiger prawns. Stir and add ground peanuts and basil leaves with lychee.

Deep-fried curried fish patties

120 grm. Thai red curry paste
35 grm. Fish sauce
13 grm. Palm sugar
2 grm. Peppercorn (crushed)
70 grm. Eggs
1 kg. Fish paste
160 grm. Wing bean (cut)
10 grm. Kaffir lime leaves (thinly sliced)
40 grm. Sweet basil (sliced)
- Put Thai red curry paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, peppercorn, eggs, and fish paste together; stir until well blended and it becomes sticky.
- Add wing bean, kaffir lime leaves, and sweet basil.
- Shape into balls and then make them flat, and round.
- Deep-fry the curry fish paste in the hot cooking oil until they become evenly golden brown.
- Garnish with kaffir lime leaves and serve with cucumber sauce.


500 grm. Distilled white vinegar
400 grm. Granulated white sugar
22 grm. Salt
200 grm. Seedless large red chilies, finely chopped
75 grm. Garlic, peeled and finely chopped
10 grm. Coriander root, finely chopped
76 grm. Cucumbers, sliced
- Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chilies, garlic, and coriander root and keep boiling over a low heat until it has the consistency of liquid honey.
- Remove and leave to cool.
- Add the sliced cucumber to the dip.



Spring onion
Bird's eyes chilies
Chinese spring onion
Hot red and green chilies
Young sweet corn
Bean sprouts (trimmed)
Sweet red and green chilies
Dried red chilies
Cashew nuts
Kaffir lime
Cumin seeds (roasted and ground)
Straw mushrooms
Nightshade fruit (garden eggplant)
White grapes
Sweet basil
Red grapes

Thai Desserts Preferred by Foreigners

The popularity of Thai desserts was also surveyed for the study "Finding Thailand's Place in World Cuisine in the Next Ten Years," and the most popular were banana in coconut milk (kluai buat chi), sweet glutinous rice jam (khao niao kaeo), sweet rice noodles in coconut milk (lotchong nam kathi), Thai pudding with coconut topping (tako), Thai custard with coconut (maphrao sangkhaya), Gold Thread (foi thong), Thai custard ( sangkhaya), Gold Touch (thong yip), and Gold Drop (thong yot).

The researcher observed that, when it came to desserts, the Asians differed from the Europeans and Americans, many of whom said that they usually did not eat dessert. Along with the desserts mentioned above, Asian people enjoy sweet glutinous rice with durian in coconut milk (khao niao turian), thick vermicelli in coconut milk syrup (pla krim khai tao), and sweet glutinous rice with mango (khao niao mamuang).

kluai buat chi
lotchong nam kathi
khao niao kaeo
maphrao sangkhaya
met kha nun, thong yot, foi thong, thong yip
thapthim krop

However, the popularity and the choices of Thai desserts among foreigners are gradually changing, partly because of the expansion of Thai restaurants in foreign countries, the growth of the Thai dessert export industry, and the growing number of foreigners visiting and living in Thailand.

Apart from the Thai desserts mentioned earlier, there are several that seem outstanding and charming because of their unique shapes, colors, and flavors. These special traits reflect the wealth of local ingenuity and cultural arts over generations. Some well-known desserts include balls made from crushed beans and wrapped in egg (met kha nun), Thai custard (khanom mo kaeng), Thai layer cake (khanom chan), rice dumpling in coconut milk soup (bua loi), pumpkin boiled in coconut milk and sugar (fak thong kaeng buat), candied banana (kluai chueam), crushed beans in fruit shapes and dipped in Thai jelly (luk chup), and crisp water chestnut in coconut milk (thapthim krop).

khanom mo kaeng
khanom chan
bua loi
fak thong kaeng buat
kluai chueam
luk chup

Fruits on the Thai Dining Table

khao niao mamuang

Thai people have devised countless ways to prepare fresh fruits, available in great variety and in abundance everywhere throughout the year, around summertime in particular.

Having fruit at the end of a meal or as supper is quite common, though fruit varieties differ according to localities and climate. But having fruit as a main dish, or as the major ingredient in a dish, is rather unusual. It can be said that in Thailand, an extensive and comprehensive use of fruits has been found. Nowhere else in the world can one find fruits cooked over a fire in many different ways, and in such sophisticated manner as in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Many seasonal fruits, such as durian, mango, rambutan, longan, and mangosteen are enjoyed to the full. They can also be consumed with cooked rice, white and glutinous, not to mention several fruit-based sweetmeats. The fruits are arranged beautifully, peeled or half-peeled, and also carved, not just for presentation, but to facilitate consumption as well.

khao niao turian

For the Thais, and all those who know and love Thai food, a sumptuous meal in the hot season is not quite complete without khao niao mamuang - glutinous rice steamed in coconut milk served with ripe mango, preferably the variety called ok rong, the fruit with a dividing line down its length, which is golden when ripe, with a pleasant sweet aroma and delicate sweet taste. Other top varieties are nam dokmai, thong dam, and thun thawai. A new variety that came out on the market recently is maha chanok, named after a literary work based on a Jataka extolling perseverance, from a story of one of the Buddha's lives, written by His Majesty the King.