Delicious Thai Signature Dishes to Try Before You Die

The way to someone’s heart is usually through the ribcage with a protruding elbow. Wait a minute. I meant to say that a way to someone’s heart is through their stomach! If you want to get a real taste for a country, its language and what it represents, sampling its local cuisine is usually a crash course in culinary culture.

Thailand is one such country that is known for its culinary prowess, and if you are currently learning Thai or are thinking of visiting there on holiday, here are 5 delicious Thai signature dishes you must try.


Tom Yam Goong Photo from Pixabay / Pixabay

#1 – Tom Yam Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)

Nothing says “I am a seafood-lover” more than devouring a bowl of tonsil tickling Tom Yam Goong. For the laymen amongst us, that breaks down as spicy shrimp soup. Although this dish is known as one of Thailand’s signatures dishes, it can be an acquired taste. Some love it and some hate, like the Marmite of the Thai seafood world. This spicy shrimp soup is fragrant and tasty and simply must be tried for the first-time Thai food consumer.

Main Ingredients: Shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, Thai red chilies, oyster mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, white onions, fish sauce, lime juice, and cilantro.

Spicy Level: 3 (Lip-Burner)


#2 – Pad Thai Noodles

When we talk about some of the most famous Thai dishes in the world, Pad Thai Noodles has to be right up there. Some say this is the Kingdom’s national and signature dish and we wouldn’t argue that with you. The dish contains any variety of noodle type, crunchy beansprouts, egg and onion, fried together to create this simple yet delicious meal. It is perfect for a foreign holidaymaker who cannot handle spicy food and can be found on almost every corner of the country. This is also an ideal dish for a vegetarian.

Main Ingredients: Noodle of any type, egg, beansprouts, garlic, sugar, onions, cilantro

Spicy Level: 1 (Kindergarten)


Phad Thai noodles photo from Pixabay / Pixabay

#3 – Khao Pad (Fried Rice)

Khao Pad is more commonly known as ‘fried rice’. Let’s be honest, you have tried fried rice in the Chinese restaurants back home and it is a very inoffensive and unthreatening dish. This is why so many visitors to Thailand are quick to sample this non-spicy Thai food special. As the name suggests, rice+oil+protein+wok+fry = fried rice. You can have this dish with any protein such as chicken, pork, crab, shrimp, mother-in-law or anything else you can think of.

Main Ingredients: rice, egg, oil, proteins

Spicy Level: 1 (Kindergarten)


#4 – Gaeng Keow Wan Kai (Thai Green Chicken Curry)

One of the standard Thai food dishes that people always want to try is the famous Thai Green Chicken Curry, which is named Gaeng Keow Wan Kai in Thailand. Using slices of chicken, small pieces of eggplant, coriander, bamboo shoots, and sweet basil, coconut milk and green curry paste, this dish is the first introduction to Thai curries and is not so spicy, but you can feel a little bit of heat underneath the flavours. This is one of the most common curries in local Thai restaurants across the world and with visitors to the country, but you don’t see so many Thai people consuming it back in the Motherland. Maybe it’s like kindergarten food for them.

Main Ingredients: Chicken, green curry paste, eggplant, coriander, bamboo shoots, coconut milk

Spicy Level: 3 (Tongue-Tickler)


Somtam Salad photo from Pixabay / Pixabay

#5 – Somtam (Green Papaya Salad)

Here we are at our final destination. There is nothing really beyond this dish other than another dimension that cannot be perceived by our five-sense reality. Reaching almost cataclysmic levels of spiciness, this bowel-twisting Thai food specialty is locally called Somtam but is more commonly known as Papaya Green Salad. This dish is the stuff of legends, and of biological warfare. Ask the Kurds about it. First concocted in the north-eastern reaches of Thailand using nuclear thermal reactors and a knock-off version of the Halogen Collider from Khaosan Road in Bangkok, this ultra-spicy number combines garlic, chives, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and raw Papaya that is shredded and pulverized into a substance that could level Addis Ababa. In some regions, they add peanuts, shrimp and/or crabs. A health warning or industrial sized protective goggles or a welding mask should be served up with this meal.

Main Ingredients: shrimp or crab, shredded papaya, chilies, garlic, cherry tomatoes, green beans

Spicy Level: 5 (Apocalypse Now… I love the smell of napalm in the morning!)

Feasting on a nation’s signature dishes can give you an insight into the daily lives of people, and this is especially true in regards to Thai people where food is the epicentre of the community. When you are travelling through Thailand, make sure you sample as many of these delicious Thai dishes as possible to get a better understanding of Thai culture.