Street food may be something that we aren’t used to back in our home countries, and indeed when we do see it we tend to avoid it! However, here in Thailand is common and is perfectly safe to eat as it is prepared and cooked fresh every day. In fact, it is one of the things that we love most about Thailand and as well as being delicious, it is great value too. These days we see more international style street food also appearing such as Shawarma kebabs and sushi but for the purposes of the article, we will concentrate on the more commonly found or the more “emblematic” of Thailand
Phad Thai is a noodle dish that is commonly served from carts on the street. Usually, it is made with prawns (goong) although it can also be made with chicken (gai) and pork (moo). It is a quick and easy dish to make and is one of Thailand’s most internationally recognised dishes. It will usually be flavoured with shallots, garlic, chilli, beansprouts, fish sauce and tamarind. This dishes should be served and eaten hot and can be made as spicy as you like to suit your taste.
Another of Thailand’s favourite dishes and one that is a staple of many Thais diets. It is made with green papaya, tomato, and long beans. Somtam is flavoured with lime, fish sauce, chilli, sugar and garlic. Often you will find small shrimps and peanuts added. The stalls are easily recognisable by the large pestle and mortar that will be used to make the dish. Somtam is sold at normal temperature and should be eaten the same. It is generally a very spicy dish but can be toned down to meet western tastes. Thais often prefer Somtam Plu Pla but this has a rather pungent aroma so most foreigners prefer to avoid this variation.
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In addition to Phad Thai, there are a number of other noodle dishes that can be purchased from street vendors. This can include Radna (with chicken, pork or prawn), Kwei Tiao and the very vague noodle soup which can be quite literally anything but includes noodles. Noodles are popular with Thais and the dishes should be served and eaten warm. You will find that a range of condiments will come with it including fish sauce, dried chilli and sugar.
Again this is quite vague but quite literally anything can be barbecued at the side of the street. This can include chicken satay, pork skewers, ribs, whole chickens and seafood. Thais also have a penchant for what we associate as being offal which can often come from unmentionable parts of animals! Overall, barbeque food is excellent and healthy if you stick to the items that you can recognise.
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OK, this might not be everyone’s favourite but they are actually highly nutritious and contain high levels of protein. The bugs include grasshoppers, silk worms, scorpions, red ants and red ant eggs along with many other varieties. These are served deep friend and can be eaten hot or cold and are surprisingly tasty. If you haven’t tried them already, why not give them a go?
Fruit and vegetable form an important part of the Thai diet. You will find lots of street stalls selling fruit which they will cut in front of you so you can be certain that it is fresh. Common fruits include guava, pineapple, mango, watermelon and papaya although it is common to see others as well. This is very healthy and also help you to get rehydrated in this hot climate.
This a commonly found dessert dish found at many places where you can purchase street food. These are relatively small but very sweet items that the Thais absolutely love!