One of the most wonderful contributions Thai culture has given the world is its authentic Thai foods. Not only are they some of the most unique, colorful and flavorful dishes, they are in fact some of the spiciest.
What makes Thai food recipes stand out is the complexity of the dishes. A single Thai dish will require a bounty of meats, vegetables, herbs, and spices. And are the Thais generous with spices.
From Bangkok to Chiang Mai, you know you’re eating authentic food from Thailand when they sprinkle in those devilish little chillies.
Chillies are popular in Thailand because they add comfort in the tropical environment. They are good for your health as well, contributing to good blood circulation and gut health. Chillies are great for your libido as well. The capsaicin in chillies have been associated with higher testosterone levels.
Whether you are an adventurous eater or someone looking to explore Thai food culture, you may want to strap in for some hot eating and try out these 5 famously spicy Thai dishes!
- Gaeng Tai Pla
In the world of spicy Thai cuisine, this tops many lists. Not only is it hot as the midday sun, the fact that it’s made with fish entrails makes eating it a near menacing affair.
Dating back a couple hundred years ago, local fisherfolk from Southern Thailand figured to make use of fish guts and cook them along with curry and vegetables to make this fiery and delicious dish.
The main ingredient is tai pla, or pickled fish bladder and contains large chunks of dried fish, chilli paste, curry, and eggplant to name a few of its ingredients.
If you fancy yourself with taste buds of steel, this may be the first dish on your list to put to the test. If not, make sure you have a healthy supply of milk lying and tissue paper on hand.
- Khua Kling
Khua kling is one of those staple and main dishes, also from southern Thailand. This is a dry curry dish, and it is yellowish in color.
Southern Thai dishes have a significant place in Thailand food culture and are known for using local and fresh ingredients like herbs, spices, and seafood to create their flavorful dishes. Many of these ingredients aren’t available in Bangkok, so they have to be delivered from the South.
In order to maintain an authentic taste, the ingredients have to be authentic themselves and cannot be substituted.
The main ingredient in khua kling is meat, usually pork and is made with curry paste that is very spicy. It is served with a sumptuous side of vegetables. One of its defining characteristics is the fragrance from the spices like bird’s eye chillies and kaffir lime leaves.
It is eaten with rice to balance the spice and palate. It is as a matter of fact, extremely spicy.
- Pad Prik Gaeng
Does stir-fried pork with red chilli paste and beans sound good to you? Pad prik gaeng is another popular dish on the all-spicy list of Thai foods.
Characteristic of Thai dishes, it is seasoned with a multitude of herbs and spics such as kaffir lime, lemongrass, cumin, coriander, and more.
Be on the lookout though, this dish is as hot as its red color indicates. It is made with a generous mixture of prol kaeong (literally chilli curry), which is the primary component of this dish. Its chilli paste is made with red chillies.
This is truly a dish made for those who can handle the heat.
- Som Tam
Ever had a green papaya salad before? Well, believe it or not, this is one of the most famous and must-try Thai dishes out there.
This is an absolutely refreshing mix of flavors ranging from sweet, sour, salty, and spicy all in a single dish.
The fresh green papaya is pounded in with a mortar and pestle along with many herbs and spices. It is best paired with a nice serving of sticky rice.
You can even request to have small crabs pounded for that fresh crab flavor. Just check yourself for allergies first!
- Tom Yum Goong
If you were sked to name a dish from Thailand, chances are you’d mention this one.
Tom yum goong (goong means shrimp) is such a soothing dish that is both hot and sour.
Its flavor comes from a mixture of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and importantly, nam prink pao, which is Thai roasted chilli paste.
Tom yum is one of those iconic Thai dishes that goes well with almost any meal. If you are feeling unwell, having a good serving of this soup can bring you relief and comfort.
Tips on How to Handle the Heat
The last thing you want is to embarrass yourself in the middle of your oh-so-perfect date. It’s one thing to be bold and adventurous. It’s another to foolishly give in to your false sense of bravado.
The extreme spices in Thailand have long been known to reduce many a manly man to tears.
Nonetheless take these friendly tips with you as you take your taste buds for a spin:
- Eat that rice. White rice is not only filling, it serves to balance out the strong flavors of whatever it’s eaten with. Most Asian main dishes like meat are strongly flavored and seasoned as compared to Western-type dishes. When eaten with spicy food, it will serve to soften the blow.
- Milk and sugar, not water. Drinking water when eating spicy food is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. It just makes things worse. Have a glass or milk or sugary dessert on hand. They work better in reducing the heat.
- Green is mean. Don’t be fooled. The innocent looking green curry is hotter than red and yellow curries due mainly to the bird’s eye chillies.
Thai food is just one of the many wonders of the world. The diversity of flavors, the richness of ingredients, and the long history of its food make it a marvel of world cuisine. And some of the best Thai food are in fact some of the spiciest!
Whether you are enjoying a dish at a local restaurant in your hometown or eating at a corner eatery in Bangkok, have a go at some of the spiciest Thai foods you can get your hands on, and write it off your bucket list!