Next week, the largest and most important festival of Thailand will take over the entire country. Songkran, the celebration of the traditional Thai New Year’s Day, kicks off on April 13th and lasts until the end of April 15th. Featuring merit-making, parades, pageants, and the world’s largest water festival, Songkran truly epitomizes the Thailand’s culture, traditions, and, of course, sense of fun. A large part of the celebration of Thai culture is its cuisine, famous across the globe for its delectability. Read on for the top 5 Thai dishes that you MUST try if you’re in Thailand for Songkran.
Can’t make it to Thailand this year? You’re in luck! The first ever Thai Restaurant Week is taking place in NYC and Los Angeles in celebration of Songkran, from April 11-17th. Visit www.ThaiRestaurantWeek.com for a list of participating restaurants, and see what special Songkran dishes and prix-fixe menus they are offering! You can also win a trip to Thailand by telling us your #SongkranStory! Click here for more info and how to enter.
Perhaps the most famous of all dishes in Thai cuisine, pad Thai is a classic stir-fried rice noodle dish renowned for its flavor, nutritiousness, and quick assembly. Commonly served as a street food from roadside stalls or at casual dining places in Thailand, pad Thai has a long history that dates back to the ancient Ayutthaya Kingdom- when it was introduced to Thailand by Viet traders. Since World War II, pad Thai has enjoyed incredible popularity both in Thailand and around the world in Thai restaurants. The dish’s combination of natural ingredients includes eggs, tofu, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chili pepper, palm sugar, lime wedges, and chopped roast peanuts. However, chefs also like to throw in their own unique ingredients to this delicious mix, which often include soy sauce, pork, bean sprouts, turnips, crab, or chicken. Whatever the recipe, pad Thai is sure to please.
Tom Yum Goong
When tom yum goong was created during the 1700s in Thailand, its popularity was so massive that neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore quickly adapted the soup. Now served around the world, tom yum goong is known for its unique blend of hot and sour flavors. Made with shrimp, stock, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lim juice, fish sauce, and crushed chili peppers, this soup is perhaps the most popular Thai dish among tourists visiting the country. Don’t be afraid to join their ranks and taste for yourself!
Also known as green papaya salad, this dish is enjoyed throughout all of Southeast Asia- and is thought to have originated in Laos. However, the Thai version, som tam, is the most famous of all variations; it was even listed in CNN’s compilation of the 50 most delicious foods in the world back in 2011! The Thai dish is characterized by its combination of the five main tastes of local cuisine: sour lime, hot chili, salty, savory fish sauce, and sweetness from the palm sugar. Other ingredients include garlic, dried shrimp, brined crabs, tomatoes, yardlong beans, hot plums, and raw eggplant. Customers are usually able to ask the chef to prepare the dish suited to personal taste, so feel free to get creative when ordering your own som tam!
Mango Sticky Rice
What’s a good meal without a great dessert? In Thailand, this post-meal snack often comes in the mouthwatering form of mango sticky rice. Often featured around the world in food exhibitions and cooking shows, mango sticky rice is arguably the most famous of all Thai desserts. Made with cooked sweet coconut milk, the sticky rice is then place atop several fresh slices of mango- making for a tasty and super healthy treat. This dish is traditionally served during the Thai summer months of April and May (when mangoes are in season), just in time for Songkran!
The Thai interpretation of a traditional Persian dish, massaman curry is a rich, relatively mild form of curry that is well-known around the world. Originating in Central Thailand during the 17th century, this delicious curry is composed through a fusion of a variety of diverse ingredients. This blend usually includes meat (beef, duck, tofu, chicken), coconut milk, onion, peanuts/cashews, potatoes, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, star anise, palm sugar, fish sauce, chili sauce, and tamarind sauce. The dish is often served along with rice, and can include fresh fruits such as oranges or pineapples. Whatever the blend, massaman curry is a true gem of Thai cuisine. In 2011, CNNGo ranked the dish in the number one spot in their article “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.”
Now that your mouth is probably watering, remember you can enter to win a trip to Thailand so you can try all these delicious foods yourself!