Thai food has become one of the favourite cuisines around the world, for many foreign countries it is one of the most expensive foods to eat. This is rather bizarre as many Thai dishes utilise small, cheap cuts of meat and are heavily reliant on vegetables and herbs. The traditional cooking methods in Thailand do not lean towards expensive and large cuts of costly meats, as meals are either prepared by stir frying or simply roasting over a fire. The choice of Thai dishes on most western menus are the staple tourist favourites: Tom Yam soup, Green and Red curries and stir fries. However, Thai cuisine has so much more to offer than just these.
The central region of Thailand is dominated by Bangkok and is littered with paddy fields, orchards and vegetable gardens fed by the rivers, streams, and canals of the Chao Phraya river. The area is famous for producing the best rice in Thailand, and although Bangkok draws food ideas from all over the kingdom, there are still many local specialities. There are three curries of the region: Kaeng Khieo, Kaeng Phet and Kaeng Phanaeng all based on coconut milk. You will also find the famous Tom Yam and Tom Kha Kai soups plus tangy salads.
Because of the cooler mountain climate, there is a large variety of vegetables to choose from plus many dished have roots and herbs included. The main flavours are sour and bitter, especially in the soups such as Kaeng Ho. The nearby kingdoms of Laos and Myanmar bring heavy influences such as sticky rice that is dipped into pungent sauces. Sausages are also a regional speciality, probably Sai Ua is the most famous.
This area is dominated heavily by Laos, with glutinous rice being a staple. Roasting and grilling are common cooking techniques, with the addition of herbs and pickles. Chillies are also used extensively as a way of livening up quite simple food such as grilled chicken. The region is named Issan which brings its own culture to not only the cuisine but the way of life. The dish Somtam is an art form in Issan, with green papaya pounded with lime, garlic, fish sauce, dried shrimp, tomatoes and peanuts. Also sometimes included is pickled field crab and Pla Ra which is a highly flavoured fish sauce.
Malay influences are everywhere in southern Thailand, with the propensity of coconut trees grown in the area, coconut features heavily in the cuisine. The warm coastal waters provide an abundance of shellfish and fish. Simply cooked by frying or sometimes in a clay pot with noodles. A typical dish of the region is Kaeng Tai Pla, a very spicy curry made with fish stomach, green beans, pickled bamboo shoots and potato. The people of southern Thailand prefer their food spicy and chillies are used liberally. The four Thai regions produce mouth watering food, each area has a very distinct flavour and different ingredients are used. Also the different provinces and towns of each region have even further local variances. So the next time you opt for Green Curry in a Thai restaurant, perhaps you should be a little more adventurous. If you want to eat authentic Thai food in Pattaya there are some great restaurants close to Global Top’s many development projects in the city.