Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top 5 Dishes Most Tourists Never Eat in Thailand

**Originally posted on Kumuka Blog on October 21, 2010.

Thai cuisine is famous the world over for its spiciness and its intense flavors. Many tourists and food lovers often feast on more traditional Thai fare such as pad thai, green curry and tom yum gai but unfortunately, most usually miss out on other delicious (and sometimes hard-to-find) dishes in Thailand. Here are the top 5 dishes that you should NOT miss in Thailand!

1. Haw mok: Fish curry stirred until it reaches a mousse-like consistency then steamed in banana leaves, haw mok is a rare, Southern Thailand delicacy due to its long and tedious preparation process. You will have literally hit the culinary jackpot if you manage to find it. Haw mok is simply delicious! It's aromatic and full of flavor with lemongrass zing and chili pepper spice while managing to not be overbearingly fishy. As haw mok is something pre-cooked and sold on the street, you can't specify the level of spiciness so try eating haw mok with white rice should you need help to cool your taste buds.

2. Khao kha moo: Stewed pork leg doesn't necessarily sound like music to a foodie's ears, but just wait until you taste it! Khao kha moo is Thailand's answer to soul food. Juicy, tender pork leg over rice flavored with the stew it was cooked in and a side of mustard greens makes the perfect meal for those looking for something milder in Thai cuisine, but doesn't want to miss out on all the flavor. Luckily, khao kha moo can be found in most roadside food stalls all over Thailand.

3. Moo kata: Thailand's known for its hot weather and you would think the last thing you wanted to do was cook your own bar-b-que over a hot clay oven just inches away from your face. Oh, how wrong you'd be! Moo kata is one of the best things to eat in Thailand and it's a fun dining experience for all involved! First, you load up plates of food from the buffet that you want to cook up. Next, you choose accompanying dishes like a wide variety of noodles, vegetables and sauces. Once the cooking surface is prepared with a piece of pork fat, you start cooking your meal. Just be careful not to overload your cook space, it's easy to burn your food on the small, but hot surface if you forget to turn them over in a timely manner. Relish your own cooking skills and wipe away the sweat that's sure to be streaming down your face by now! It's a hot one!

4. Beef noodle soup: A generous helping of vermicelli noodles and plenty of accompanying vegetables in a delicious broth, flavored with fish sauce, pepper and a touch of sugar, Thailand's beef noodle soup gives its nearby neighbor, Vietnam's more famous version called pho a run for its money. One bowl is plenty for a hungry traveler and Thailand's beef noodle soup can soon become your daily food fix as it became for me!

5. Khao soy: Egg noodles are perfectly complimented with a spicy, coconut-y chicken curry soup to make your taste buds sing. Literally. The first time I ate this dish, I was absolutely blown away. The hearty curry-soup is seasoned with shallots, lime, and pickled cabbage. The chicken is amazingly tender. Khao soy practically begs you to eat more of it. Unfortunately, this dish is hard to find in Thailand except in the North, a rather confounding discovery given Thailand's near-obsessive love for noodles and curry.

© Connie Hum 2010

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