Reader’s Request: Thai Food

by Holly on June 23, 2011

in eating out,reader's request,Thai

Apparently, this week is “Asian Lovefest 2011” here on The Healthy Everythingtarian.

Asian Quinoa Bowl Remix?

Mmmm, yes! I ate the whole recipe in two days.

Life lessons learned in Laos?

I love alliteration. And this post. Like, a lot.

A reader’s request post on deciphering the complicated world of Thai menus?

Of course! Let’s get down {Thai} business…

This post is for a very special blog reader of mine – my coworker Natalie! Since I lived in Thailand for 10 months, it was only natural she come to moi for some serious expert advice on how to expand her Thai food repertoire from the usual Americanized staples like fried egg rolls, crab rangoon, pad thai, etc. Because if I am going to be frank with you all, while these dishes are all delicious, my peeps in Thailand don’t really eat that stuff.

They prefer simple dishes like fried eggs atop fluffy white rice. Or bags of freshly-cut pineapple, rose apple or guava. How do you feel about a big warm bowl of beef broth, bean sprouts, rice noodles and pork spiced with sweet chili sauce, Sriracha, a squeeze of lime + sprinkle of peanuts? Perhaps all washed down with a Singha beer?

Good, I hope.

Because the Thais think it’s aloy mak mai.

Very tasty.

And so should you.

Let’s start with the basics. Because quite frankly, it’s pretty much all the Thai I remember.

key words to know

gai = chicken

moo = pork

bla = fish

talay = seafood

nua = beef

tua = beans

pad = rice

sai pak = with vegetables

maprao = coconut (because it’s just fun to say)

Got all that memorized? Of course you do, for I have very smart readers. Now, let’s eat!

for starters:

som tum

spicy papaya salad. carrots. cabbage. tomatoes. fish sauce. palm sugar. lime. deliciousness.

tom kha

coconut milk. lemongrass. vegetables. galangal. amazing.

chicken satay with peanut sauce

chicken skewers. marinated in peanut sauce. finger-licking good.

*     *     *     *     *

for entrees:

pad mamuang himmapan

stir-fried meat. cashew nuts. rice. dried chili. green onion. awesome sauce.

pad see yew

rice noodles. eggs. meat. soy-based sauce. classic.

yam nua

grilled beef. fresh vegetables. spicy Thai dressing. yums.

*     *     *     *     *

for add-ins + toppings:

pickled greens

roasted red chili paste


Thai sweet chili sauce


bean sprouts

shredded cabbage

While I would happily dive my curly-haired head first into a bowl of tom kha gai (serious craving over here), my favoritest favoritest favoritest thing to eat in Thai cuisine is by far curry.

In fact, I am a firm believer in…

Give me curry or give me death!

Very Patrick Henry of me, I know.

If only I knew how to say that phrase in Thai.

types of curry:


also known as gaeng phet:
red chilis, garlic, lime, galangal, coriander, cumin + lemongrass


also known as gaeng kiow wahn:
green chilis, shallots, garlic, coriander, cumin, shrimp paste + white peppercorn


also known as gaeng leuang:
turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, bay leaf, lemongrass, cayenne, ginger, mace + cinnamon


also known as gaeng massaman:
coconut milk, peanuts, potatoes, cardamom, cinnamon, palm sugar, fish sauce + tamarind sauce


also known as gaeng phanaeng:
dried chili peppers, galangal, lemongrass, coriander, cumin + garlic

I would get into the lovely realm of Thai desserts, but really the only dessert I ever ate in Thailand was sticky rice + mango with a thick drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. So you should probably eat that too. Or drink a Thai iced coffee. There’s enough sweetened condensed milk in that as well to call it dessert.

What is your favorite Thai dish? As always, sharing is caring friends!

*     *     *     *     *

Please don’t forget – you have ONE more day to enter my Help Brett, Help You giveaway with
more than $150 in giveaway goodies!


Special K June 23, 2011 at 11:13 pm

I love red and yellow curries….and I think anything with peanuts are the bomb.
Peanuts (earthyness) and sweetness and spices just hit my body in a soul defining way.

Thanks for the lessons, friend!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table June 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Panang curry, som tum, or those lettuce wraps with the ground pork. Mmmmm! Just about anything Thai that is so spicy it makes my lips numb. It’s my not-so-secret dream to go to Thailand a take a cooking class.

Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] June 24, 2011 at 1:59 am

yumm :) :)

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 24, 2011 at 5:11 am

Wow, what a great tutorial!! The food AND the vocab lessons!

Fave thai dish? Fresh spring rolls + peanut sauce. Pure heaven. They probably are Vietnamese though? But I think there are Thai Fresh spring rolls, too, right? :)

Lauren June 24, 2011 at 7:13 am

I love your ethic food lessons. They are so helpful!

Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy June 24, 2011 at 7:27 am

I love love love Thai food. I usually go with some kind of curried veggetables and rice, but the drunken noodles and fresh minty spring rolls are also all kinds of amaizng.

Meister @ The Nervous Cook June 24, 2011 at 7:38 am

I love Thai food so much, and recently started experimenting with cooking a bit of it up at home. (Mark Bittman’s pad Thai recipe is great, and I love making a sort of cheater version of massaman curry with vegetables.)

When we go out for Thai, my husband and I always always always get a green mango or papaya salad, and I almost always get tom yum.

colleenzo June 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

I love Thai food, it’s my favorite comfort food. I love currys, especially with coconut milk. And I’m ashamed to admit it, because I know it’s totally the Americanized McDonald’s version of Thai food, but I’m obsessed with Pad Thai. Usually when I go out, I force myself to order something BESIDES Pad Thai, then by the end of the meal buckle and get an order of it in addition to my other meal. It’s just so good! Extra peanuts, extra sprouts!

brandi June 24, 2011 at 10:48 am

You are so smart :) I will be printing this out to carry in my wallet with me.

Lindsey June 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I’m getting pretty hungry about now. At home, I love to make curries. So simple and delicious. Plus, you can use whatever veggies or meat you have on hand. At Thai restaurants I love drunken noodles, so good.

Hillary June 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I’m embarrassed to say the closest I’ve gotten to Thai food is probably pad thai; but that is one of my favorite foods ever, so I’m counting it anyways!

dana @ my little celebration June 24, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Fun post! So much good info!

pad thai, for lifes. Oh, and spring rolls. Yum.

emily (a nutritionist eats) June 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I HAVE to have curry. Every. Single. Time. It is kind of annoying because I want to try other things, but just can’t!

Cait's Plate June 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I love, love, LOVE Pad See Ew with chicken or tofu (just had it the other night actually!). Or Spicy Basil Noodle with tofu. Those are my 2 go-tos :)

Megan (Braise the Roof) June 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I keep hearing about how amazing som tum is, and I still haven’t tried it! I need to put that on the list. I’m incredibly boring when it comes to Thai food (and I find that I end up sharing dishes with people who don’t like spicy food- cuts down on the options quite a bit), but I do enjoy a good green curry in addition to the standard pad thai/other noodle dishes!

Jess June 24, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I’ve never had Thai food, but I’ve always wanted to try I’m DYINGGG to try it.

amanda June 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm

why are you not dating brett, girl? he’s cute!

pad see yew sounds yummy.

Gina June 24, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I love ANYTHING with curry. :) But my experience with thai food is a little limited – this post was definitely helpful!

Carbzilla June 24, 2011 at 8:27 pm

YUM! Love everything about it. We had it last weekend in fact. I just looked my dish up and it was called Pad Ped but that probably means nothing. Sure was good though. Hubby is a BIG Pad See Ew fan, which I LOVE Pad Woon Sen but I don’t think there’s a dish I don’t like. (Not a huge fan of the rice wrapper Spring rolls frankly) I wanna go with someone who likes it HOT.

Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun June 25, 2011 at 5:46 am

Thanks for this! I admit I don’t do Thai bec the menus scare me too.

Lauren @ What Lauren Likes June 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I really love Tom Yum soup! also a thai place near my house has an amazing green tom sum with mini shrimp :) nomnomnom

Sarah B. June 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I have never had Thai food, but an authentic Thai restaurant just opened in my city and it is supposed to be amazing, so I think I will have to check it out!

Sarah@The Flying ONION June 26, 2011 at 6:15 am

Chicken satay with peanut sauce. Hands down, my favorite! So delish! :D

Karlee June 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

love love love thai food…i love red and panang curry with tofu, and there is also an amazing basil thai dish that my local restaurant makes, with a little spice…yum!

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