A Glossary of Typical Thai Dishes – Part I

Planning to eat at a Thai restaurant can be a challenge sometimes, especially the first time one tries Thai food. Looking up dishes on the Internet ahead of time is always a good idea. The Internet is filled with lots of information on both authentic Thai dishes and Thai dishes customized for one’s country. So, when choosing your Thai dishes, be aware that they might not be the same as a given description on the Internet. Even authentic Thai recipes for a given dish can be different. This is because it depends on the person who wrote the recipe. The region plays important role. Green curry in the north can be different from green curry in the central plains. A variety of factors make recipes and descriptions a fluid process. But that there are benefits to this situation. Becoming familiar with multiple perspectives and possibilities can enliven one’s eating experience further and help generate new ideas and tastes.

Most Thai restaurants in the US will provide menus that include descriptions of each dish. Some may also show dishes written in Thai and/or a phonetic English pronunciation of the Thai name. The names of dishes often derive from from the main ingredient. For instance, Kaeng Kiaw Wann Gai translates literally as “curry, green, sweet, chicken.” Here are some typical Thai dishes in Thailand. Perhaps you’ll find some dishes here that you’ve tried or would like to look for in restaurants in your country.

Snacks (Appetizers)

Thais love snacks and often eat between meals. There are a wide variety of snacks ranging from deep-fried insects to fruits and sweets.

  • Gai Ping: charcoal-grilled chicken with sticky rice
  • Kai Ping: charcoal-roasted eggs with dark chili dipping sauce
  • Khanom Pang Nah Goong: deep-fried minced shrimp, garlic and cilantro on bread
  • Khanom Pang Nah Moo: deep-fried minced pork, garlic and cilantro on bread
  • Kiaw Krob Goong-Moo: deep-fried minced pork, shrimp & spices enclosed in a wonton wrapper
  • Kluay Ping: charcoal-grilled banana
  • Luk Chin Ping: barbeque meatballs with chili dipping sauce
  • Luk Chin Tod: deep-fried meatballs with chili dipping sauce
  • Miang Kam: leaf-wrapped tidbits
  • Moo Ping: charcoal-grilled pork with sticky rice
  • Po Pia Tod: deep-fried spring rolls with sweet dipping sauce
  • Roti: Muslim pan-fried bread with sweetened condensed milk and granulated sugar
  • Roti Sai Mai: flour-wrapped spun candy
  • Sakoo Sai Moo: steamed tapioca filled with minced pork
  • Tod Mun Goong: fried shrimp cakes with cucumber and peanut in sweet dipping sauce
  • Tod Mun Pla: fried fish cakes with cucumber and peanut in sweet dipping sauce

Noodle Dishes

There are many types of noodles – three examples of types are egg, rice and transparent noodles. The rice noodles come in 3 different sizes: sen yai (wide), sen lek (medium) and sen mee (thin). Egg noodles are called “Ba-Mi” and transparent are called “Wun sen” and are made from mung beans starch. Most Thais would eat noodle dishes with chopsticks as contrasted with their regular use of spoon and fork.

  • Bami Haeng: egg noodles (served dry) with vegetables and meat/meatballs (pork, chicken, beef or fish balls)
  • Bami Kiaw Nam: egg noodle soup with wontons (filled with meat), sliced barbeque pork and vegetables
  • Bami Kiaw Haeng: egg noodles (served dry) with wontons (filled with meat), sliced barbeque pork and vegetables
  • Bami Nam: egg noodle soup with vegetables and meatballs (pork, chicken, beef or fish balls)
  • Khamon Hua Phak Kad: stir-fried white radish cake with bean sprouts and Chinese chives
  • Khao Soi: Chiang Mai-style noodles; creamy sauce served over egg noodles
  • Kuai Tiaw Kai Kau: stir-fired wide rice noodles with chicken
  • Kuay Tiaw Haeng: rice noodles (served dry) with vegetables and meat/meatballs (pork, chicken, beef or fish balls)
  • Kuay Tiaw Num: rice noodle soup with vegetables and meatballs (pork, chicken, beef or fish balls)
  • Lad Nah: stir-fried thin or wide rice noodles with light gravy bean sauce and Chinese kale
  • Pad Kee Mao: Stir-fried wide rice noodles with meat and vegetables with chilies
  • Pad See Eew: stir-fried wide rice noodles with meat and vegetables with black soy sauce
  • Pad Thai: stir-fried medium rice noodles with egg, dried shrimp and fried bean curd sprinkled with peanuts (served with
    beansprouts)

Curry Dishes

Thai curry dishes are well known for their spicy qualities. Each curry dish is made with a specific type of curry paste; the term can also refer to the pastes themselves. There are two common types of curries: coconut-based curry and water-based curry. The coconut-based curry will consistently have coconut milk in it whereas water-based curry has no coconut. Most water-based curry will involve fish as one of its ingredients. Here are some typical curry dishes Thais eat:

  • Kaeng Daeng: red curry with meat, red bell peppers, basil and coconut milk
  • Kaeng Hang Le: Northern style curry with meat, curry powder, lemongrass, ginger, shallots, shrimp paste, chilies and peanuts
  • Kaeng Kari: Indian style curry with meat, potatoes and coconut milk
  • Kaeng Kiaw Waan: a slightly sweet green curry with meat, Thai eggplants, pea eggplants, winter melon, Thai sweet basil (Bai Horapa), kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk
  • Kaeng Khua: three-flavored coconut-based curry (sweet, sour and salty) most common meat is fish, shrimp or clam. Main added ingredients typically used in this curry can be pineapple, mushrooms or winter melon. Other ingredients are galanga, kaffir lime zest, dried chilies, lemon grass and shrimp paste
  • Kaeng Leung: hot yellow curry, most common meat used is fish. Other ingredients are winter melon, chilies, garlic, turmeric, lemon grass, shallots and shrimp paste
  • Kaeng Liang: vegetarian curry, most common vegetables are sponge gourd (buab liam), gourd leave (bai tam leung) and phak nam tao (bottle gourd). Other ingredients are shrimp paste, dried shrimp and shallots
  • Kaeng Matsaman: curry with meat, potatoes, peanuts and coconut milk (a mild curry from the Muslim Southern part of Thailand)
  • Kaeng Pa: jungle curry is a water-based curry eaten in Northen Thailand. This curry is hot and full of flavor from fingerroot, kaffir lime zest, lemon grass, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and chilies
  • Kaeng Phed: spicy curry with meat and chilies
  • Kaeng Som: hot and sour curry with fish (can be fired), morning glory vegetables and juice-based tamarind
  • Phanaeng: Thai southern style dry curry with meat, kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk

Soup

Spicy and non-spicy soup dishes are always served as one of a communal dinner’s dishes. Most non-spicy soup dishes can be made with a variety of ingredients.

  • Kaeng Chued Ma Ra: stuffed bitter melon in soup broth. Stuffed bitter melon can use ground pork or chicken
  • Kaeng Chued Taeng Gwa: stuffed cucumber in soup broth. Stuffed cucumber can be ground pork or chicken
  • Kaeng Chued Tao Hu: beancurd, soy bean sprouts in soup broth. Some may add ground pork
  • Kaeng Chued Wun Sen: clear noodle, ground meat, vegetables and broth
  • Kaeng Tam Leung: chicken or pork rib broth with gourd leaves (bai tam leung)
  • Tom Kha Gai: hot and sour coconut milk soup with chicken, lemon grass, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves and chilies
  • Tom Kha Pla Duk: hot and sour coconut milk soup with catfish, lemon grass, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves and chilies
  • Tom Kha Ta Le: hot and sour coconut milk soup with assorted seafood, lemon grass, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves and chilies
  • Tom Som: sweet and sour soup with fish, shrimp paste, tamarind juice, onion and coriander
  • Tom Yum Gai: hot and sour soup with chicken, mushrooms, cilantro, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, nam prik pao paste and chilies
  • Tom Yum Goong: hot and sour soup with shrimp, mushrooms, cilantro, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, nam prik pao paste and chilies
  • Tom Yum Moo Pa: hot and sour soup with wild boar, mushrooms, cilantro, lemongrass, nam prik pao paste and chilies
  • Tom Yum Pla Duk: hot and sour soup with catfish, mushrooms, cilantro, lemongrass, nam prik pao paste and chilies
  • Tom YUm Ta Ke: hot and sour soup with assorted seafood, mushrooms, cilantro, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, nam prik pao paste and chilies

Rice Dishes

With rice as Thais’ staple, there are many of quick rice dishes. Some may eat as their main meal, but some may eat as snack.

  • Jok: rice porridge with ground pork, fresh ginger and green onion (some may add egg)
  • Khao Krug Ka Pi: shrimp paste rice with slices of thin omlet, fired shallots, shreaded raw mango, sweet shredded pork and dried shrimp
  • Khao Mok Gai: Thai-style chicken biriyani served with rice cooked with yellow spices
  • Khao Moo Daeng: Chinese-style red pork with rice, boiled eggs and cucumber
  • Khao Mun Gai: steamed chicken with rice cooked in chicken stock and garlic
  • Khao Nah Ped: roasted duck served on rice
  • Khao Ob Subparod: fried rice with shrimp, pineapple, onions and cashew nuts, baked in a pineapple
  • Khao Pad Moo-Goong: fried rice with pork, shrimp, eggs, onion and cilantro
  • Khao Pad Poo: fried rice with crab meat, eggs, tomatoes, onion and cilantro
  • Khao Pad Subparod: fried rice with shrimp, pineapple, onions and cashew nuts
  • Khao Tom: rice soup with a selection of meat and vegetable side dishes;
  • Khao Tom Goong: rice soup with shrimp
  • Khao Tom Moo: rice soup with pork
  • Khao Tom Pla: rice soup with fish

Desserts

Dessert is known as Khanom or Khong wan in Thai. Most Thai desserts are based on fruits and natural flavor.

  • Bua Loy Benjarong: taro, pumpkin, and mung dal bean balls in coconut milk
  • Kaeng Buat: potatoes, taro and pumpkin in coconut milk
  • Khanom Kluay: blended banana mixed with flours dessert with shredded coconut on top
  • Khao Niaw Dum Puek-Ma Prao: taro, coconut meat and black sticky rice with coconut topping
  • Khao Niaw Gaew: boiled pandanus sticky rice balls
  • Khao Niaw Ma Muang: mango served with sticky rice and coconut milk
  • Khao Tom Mud: steamed black beans, sticky rice and banana in banana leaf
  • Khanom Chan: nine-layered sweet. Main ingredients are flours and natural colors
  • Khanom Khrok: warm coconut pudding
  • Khanom Moh Kaeng: Thai-style egg custard
  • Khanom Tago: sago-based dessert with coconut cream on top
  • Khanom Thien: mung beans in banana leaf
  • Khanom Thua Fu: jasmine sponge cakes
  • Khanom Thua Paep: mung bean stuffing coated with shredded coconut meat
  • Khanom Thuay: coconut cakes
  • Kluay Buat Chee: banana in coconut milk
  • Kluay Tod: deep-fried banana fritters
  • Luk Choob: made from mung dal beans, this dessert is a collection of miniature replicas of fruits and vegetables
  • Mun Tom Khing: potatoes in ginger syrup
  • Nam Kang Sai: assorted fruits, beans or sticky rice with shaved ice on top
  • Paeng Jee: grilled coconut cakes
  • Sang Kha Ya Fak Thong: coconut custard in a hollowed pumpkin
  • Sakoo Khao Pod: tapioca and corn with coconut topping
  • Sakoo Tao Dum: tapioca and black beans in coconut milk
  • Tao Suan Med Bua: mung dal beans and lotus seeds with coconut topping
  • Thong Yip (Pinched Gold), Thong Yod (Drop of Gold) and Foi Thong (Golden Threads): these three are well-known egg-yolk
    desserts in Thailand. The color of these three desserts is a yellow-like golden color from the egg yolk

There are lots more dishes than I can mention here. Part II will talk more about seafood dishes, stir-fried dishes and fruits. Already a fairly extensive list, the above selections help give one a sense of both the wide variety of dishes and the groups of dishes that relate to or build off of each other. Certainly many different combinations of dishes await! Combinations can be further harmonized based on increasing familiarity with dishes that also allows one to better tailor selections for a given occasion. As noted earlier, recipes and general descriptions for a dish can vary significantly. As a result, there are many possibilities for taste and other elements of many of the dishes listed here.

Let us here from you if there is something you’d like to hear about in an article, such as a general topic for an article, or more information on a particular selection of dishes. Looking through this wealth of choices can be a good way to discover new favorite dishes. Until next time, happy eating!

Napatr Lindsley

Source by Napatr Lindsley