The dog conch, known as “Hoy Chak Teen” in Thai, is a species of sea snail, famous in Krabi’s cuisine. Chak teen means ‘feet pulling’ and hoi means ‘shell’. To prepare the dog conch, the shell is soaked in salty water for about 30 minutes. The dog conch then begins expelling the mud from inside by pushing its feet out. It is rinsed several times and then boiled gently, starting with cold water. This way, the dog conch pushes its feet out, so when cooked, they can be easily picked out with a toothpick. The dog conch is eaten with a spicy chili dipping sauce called Nam Jim Seafood.
Fresh dog conches at the floating seafood restaurant in Bang Pat Fishing Village.
The dog conch is an important economic asset in the Indo-Pacific, and it may be suffering population declines due to overfishing; ecologists have recommended a reduction in its exploitation rate. Initiatives in Thailand are attempting to manage the natural populations; good for us who want to eat this dog conch with a clean conscience.
Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish, hugely popular with tourists and locals alike. You can order Pad Thai everywhere in Thailand; on the streets, or in a fancy restaurant. Pad Thai is made with soaked dried rice noodles, which are stir-fried with eggs, tofu, bean sprouts; flavored with tamarind paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, red chillies and palm sugar; served with lime wedges and chopped roast peanuts.
Take a look at this amazing 2-minute viral Pad Thai video by The Tourism Authority of Thailand. The video begins with the history of Pad Thai and then continues with each ingredient composed of beautiful pictures through various parts of Thailand.
I have tried to limit myself to the top 10 Thai foods – in no particular order – that I can’t (or don’t want to) live without. Some dishes like noodle soup, fried rice and Pad Thai almost got a place on the list. What is your favorite Thai food?
1. Kor Moo Yang with Nahm Jim Jaew
(Grilled Pork Neck with Tamarind/Chili Dipping Sauce)
Photo credit: shesimmers.com
I love this dish so much my wife and I eat it almost every week. She grills the pork neck in the oven, but when it’s summer we cook the meat on the barbecue. The meat is marinated for 24 hours, and when ready to eat, served with an Issan style chilli dipping sauce and rice. Unbelievably good!
Laab Moo is a dish originating from the northeastern Thailand (Isan), but It’s highly popular throughout the country. Many tourists have discovered and begun to love this dish. In this recipe, we use a seasoning mix from our local Asian store. Sure, you can make your own spice blends, but then you need to grind roasted uncooked rice, and today we’re a little bit lazy. Usually, we use a seasoning mix from Knorr that we buy with us home from Thailand, but now it’s finished, and we could only find Lobo Brand Laab in our local store. I like Knorr a little more, and this brand was spicier, so take it easy. Use 1 tablespoon to 4-500 grams (15 oz) of minced pork.
Use 1 tablespoon seasoning mix of this brand to 4-500 grams (15 oz) of minced pork. If you can find Knorr, use a half bag.
Tom Yam Kung (or Tom Yum Goong) is a hot, spicey and sour soup, made with prawns as the main ingredient. This Thai masterpiece is hugely popular among both Thais and tourists. This dish was listed as number 8 on CNN Travels World’s 50 best foods.
“The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.
Here’s a recipe from ThaiTable.com.
Tom Yam Kung – ต้มยำกุ้ง
3 chili peppers
5 sprigs cilantro (coriander leaves)
2 tablespoon fish sauce
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon Nam Prig Pow (Thai chili paste)
1 cup shrimp
4 cups water
Edit: this recipe is without galangal, and my wife says that without galangal it’s not a complete dish. So add 3 slices fresh galangal . You can also add 1-2 spoons coconut milk if you like the creamy version. And me personally like to add a few cherry tomatoes cut in half.
You can find Nam Prig Pow (my wife buys this one), kaffir lime leaves and galangal in asian supermarkets.
Boil water in a 2-quart pot. Peel and de-vein the shrimp and set them aside. Cut lemon grass into pieces, 5-6 inches long. Use the back of your knife to pound the lemon grass, just to bruise it to release the flavor. Tie the lemongrass into a knot to make it easier to manage. Drop the lemon grass in water and let boil for 5 minutes together with three slices fresh galangal.
Put the fish sauce and one lime’s juice into the bottom of the bowls you will serve the soup in. Crush chili pepper and add to the bowl.
Remove the stems from the kaffir lime leaves and add the leafy part to the pot. Clean and halve the mushrooms and add them to the pot. Let it boil. Add the shrimp and turn off the heat. Shrimp gets tough very quickly, and will cook even when it is just sitting in the warm broth. Scoop the shrimp and liquid into the serving bowls immediately. As soon as you add the liquid to the serving bowl, you will see that the broth becomes cloudy because of the lime juice. Add the nam prig pow. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Be very careful, the peppers can be hot. Take a small sip at a time. Add more fish sauce and/or lime juice if it tastes bland.