What to Eat in Thailand?

Thai food is enormously rich in variety and piquant in taste, and most visitors quickly come to share the Thais high regard for the national fare.

Pork and poultry are favoured meats, although many types of fish and shellfish, both freshwater and from the sea, are a traditional source of protein and are equally popular, more so in some regions.

But the basis of a Thai meal is rice. This is commonly steamed, although it may be made into noodles, while glutinous or 'sticky' rice is preferred with some regional specialities.

Accompanying the rice are four or five main dishes featuring vegetables, meat, seafood, fish, eggs and soup according to choice. Utensils are a fork and spoon.

After helping yourself to a scoop of rice, you take small amounts from the other dishes as taste and appetite dictate.

Besides the rice and main dishes, essential to any Thai meal are the sauces. There are a staggering number , but the commonest are nam pla, a liquid fish sauce which is extremely salty, and nam prik, also liquid but with pieces of chillies, garlic, shrimp curd, sugar and lime.

Thailand's great contribution to the culinary arts is tom yam, a sour soup which can be made with various kinds of meat or fish. Its most famous version is with prawns, tom yam goong.

The basic broth is flavoured with lemon grass, citurs leaves, lime juice, fish sauce and hot chillies.

Other common methods of Thai food preparation include curries (gaeng), usually hot and spicy, and the stir-fried dishes which are cooked in a wok with pork fat oil, pepper and plenty of garlic.

There is a wide choice of salad preparations (yam) made with just vegetables or with different kinds of meat or fish mixed with distinctive flavourings like lemon grass and fish sauce, together with lime juice for characteristic tartness.

For dessert there are many sorts of local sweets (kanom), often flavoured with coconut and very sugary, as well as a bewildering choice of tropical fruits, including the sweet-tasting , but foul-smelling durian, luscious mangosteens, rambutans and custard apples.

Northeastern Thailand possesses a regional cuisine that has become extremely popular in recent years. It features a wide variety of exotic ingredients, among them frogs and grasshoppers, and uses chill peppers to a greater degree than elsewhere in Thailand.

Among typical Northeastern dishes are green papaya salad (som tam) and spicy minced meat or chicken, known as larb.

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