A market stall, at Thanin market in Chiang Mai
A market stall, at Thanin market in Chiang MaiWikiCommons

Sample These Four Varieties Of Regional Food When In Thailand

Regional ingredients, cooking techniques, and local flavours define Thai cuisine and shape their tastes and charms

Thai food has gained popularity around the world due to its diverse culinary styles, great taste, and distinct character. Its core lies in the art of balancing four distinct flavours: salty, sweet, sour, and spicy, with the level of spiciness varying according to the type of Thai food. Thai cuisine varies in taste and style depending on the area or region of the country from which the dish originated. Regional ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavours define local cuisines and shape their individual tastes and charms.

There are four distinct styles of cooking in Thailand according to region.

Northern Region

Thai food in northern Thailand is inspired by the two neighbours Burma and Laos. This can be witnessed in the consumption of main dishes with sticky rice or well-known dishes such as Khao Soi and Kaeng Hangle. northern Thai cookery is often milder than the rest of the country; sticky rice is favoured, and it is customarily kneaded into small balls with the fingers. In addition, the people use a variety of natural exotic plants to produce some distinctive local meals. Northern food is salty rather than sweet, mildly spicy, and requires a lot of fresh vegetables, smoky grills, and herb-rich curries. Some famous northern Thai cuisine includes: Khao Soi (egg noodle with yellow curry, served with chicken, pork or beef), Kaeng Hangle (a pork curry flavored with ginger, turmeric, and tamarind), Sai ua (Northern style grilled pork sausage with herbs and spices), and Nam Prik Ong (a dip with minced pork, chilli and tomatoes).

Prawns and freshwater fish are the main sources of protein
Prawns and freshwater fish are the main sources of proteinSOFCOR/Pixabay

North-Eastern Region

The culinary tradition of this region, known locally as Isan, is noted for its distinctive dishes and pungent flavour, which are frequently cooked with herbs and spices and are highly influenced by Lao cuisine. The food is generally strongly spicy, and sticky glutinous rice is the main staple for north-eastern dishes. Although there are many meat dishes, historically meat was scarce in the villages, and prawns and freshwater fish were the main sources of protein. Pla Ra, or fermented fish, is a particular element in Isan cuisine that the people use to season their dishes or as a dipping sauce. Pla Ra has a salty and sour flavour, as well as a very pungent scent that some people may find unpleasant. Because coconut milk is rarely used in Isan cookery, most meals are light and fresh, yet with a hot and spicy flavour.

Som Tam (Green papaya salad), Nam Tok (spicy grilled pork or beef salad), Grilled Chicken, Lap (Minced pork or chicken salad), and Sup Nor Mai (Hot and Sour Bamboo Shoots Salad) are some popular Isan meals, which are typically served with sticky rice.

Central Region

The cuisine of Thailand's central region's is a cross between the north and south, with fragrant Jasmine rice favoured over sticky rice. The central region cuisine is distinguished by the presence of royal cuisine. This style of cookery, which originated in the royal court, consists of far more elaborate meals prepared using intricate processes. It is more of an art form than traditional cooking. Central Thai cuisine is the most popular in the country, and most of the dishes of Thailand that are known around the world come from this region, such as Phad Thai, Tom Yam Soup, and Green Curry. Stir-fries, noodle and curry meals, for example, are heavily influenced by Chinese and Indian cuisine.

Both Chinese and Indian cuisine play a major influence in this region. For example, you will get stir-fries, noodles, and curry dishes. The central food palate in general has a mellow taste of sour, salty, spicy, and sweet. One of the major ingredients used in central Thai cuisine is coconut milk, and other condiments like soy sauce, fermented bean paste, and oyster sauce.

Street food in Thailand
Street food in ThailandWikiCommons

Southern Region

Southern Thai food is among the most popular outside of Thailand because it is the country's main tourism region. Coconut milk is used in a variety of dishes in Thailand's southern cuisine. The dishes make extensive use of seafood. Southern food is known for being the spiciest in Thailand, with powerful chilli and peppercorn flavours. Appetisers from this region feature a lot of cashews from local plantations, and coconut flesh.

Probably the most famous dish from Southern region is Geang, a spiced soup or curry. You may also see it written as kaeng. There are several variations like Keang liang, Keang tai pla (femented fish curry, which is probably the region’s speciality dish), and Keang Karee. Another popular dish is Khao Yam, which is rice mixed with ingredients like bamboo shoots, kaffir lime leaves, crushed nuts, some coconut, lemongrass, dried shrimp and sliced green beans.

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