The dishes on this list are not rare in Thailand, though they are not nearly as common as some of the other well known and famous dishes. Likewise, many of these Thai dishes are not so popular on the international scene of Thai restaurants, but are well worth searching out.
So here are 11 Thai dishes that you may have never heard of, but that are some of my personal favorites. It's important to take full advantage of the never ending supply of Thai food!
1. Miang Pla Too
If I'm in the mood to eat something light, I almost always grab a bag of take-away Miang Pla Too. In the market, it looks like a big bag of herbs and lettuce with a little mackerel fish on the side.
It sort of works like tacos, you take a piece of lettuce or cabbage, add a few rice noodles, a piece of the fried fish, some herbs and then drown it in the chili sauce. Take that entire creation and stuff it into your mouth for a sensational jolt of deliciousness!
1. Kuay Teow Reua (boat noodles)
Bowls of noodles are common as Thai food meals and snacks. Kuay Teow Reua translates to “boat noodles,” because they were originally served right out of boats floating in the canals.
Nowadays most of the boat noodle restaurants are served from stabilized restaurants. It's the rich soup made from pig's blood that makes boat noodles so tasty!
3. Yam Tua Plu
In English, Tua Plu is called winged bean. Yam Tua Plu is a fresh salad made from chopped up winged beans, a few prawns or slices of squid, peanuts and cashews, dried coconut, and all dressed in a tangy spicy sauce. The result is a scrumptious salad combination.
4. Kua Kling
One of my all-time favorite southern Thai dishes is meat made into a dry curry known as Kua Kling. All the meat soaks up the curry sauce and spices and makes it into something heavenly. Kua Kling is often made spicy and served with a few chopped leaves of fragrant kaffir lime.
5. Som Tam Ponlamai
One of Thailand's most famous dishes is Som Tam, or green papaya salad. Foreigners and Thais alike love the multi-variations of this crispy fresh salad.
Som Tam Ponlamai is made with the same dressing but instead of green papaya, a mix of chopped tropical fruit like guava, dragonfruit, rose apples, and pineapple are used. It makes for a truly unique mix of sweet, salty and spicy.
6. Gaeng Aom
One of the most herb induced dishes I've ever tasted is Gaeng Aom. It's a cross between a curry and a thick soup that is filled with vegetables, pork, and then loaded down with a variety of herbs. Lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, an assortment of parsleys, and dill leaves are the flavors that really stand out.
7. Pad Pak Gachet
With my first bite of Pak Gachet, I knew that it was one of the best vegetables I'd ever eaten. In English it is known as a form of water mimosa, though I had never seen it outside of SE Asia.
In Thailand the vegetable is normally stir fried up with fermented bean sauce or oyster sauce along with chilies and garlic. It has an incredible tough chewiness to it – which I think really makes it special.
8. Khao Yam
Another southern Thai dish of glory is Khao Yam, or mixed rice. Cooked rice is tossed with toasted coconut, dried shrimp flakes, sliced kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, green beans, bean sprouts, sometimes pomelo, and a sweet soy sauce dressing. The rice is served room temperature and it tastes so earthy and fresh.
9. Khao Kluk Kaphi
Khao Kluk Kaphi is rice coated in fragrant shrimp paste and joined with sliced green beans, green mango slivers, onions, egg, Chinese sausage and a little bit of marinated pork. As is common with Thai food, it's the diversity of flavors that really makes it exciting!
10. Kai Yat Sai
Not just an ordinary omelet, Kai Yat Sai is an egg pocket stuffed with minced pork, tiny pieces of carrots and a zesty tomato sauce. Over a bed of freshly cooked rice, this glorified Thai style omelet creates a true comfort warming effect.
11. Larb Pla Duk
Larb Moo, which is fresh minced pork salad, is one of the most common Thai street food dishes. However, I much prefer the same blend of herbs and spices made with roasted catfish instead of pork.
The smoky flavored catfish is deboned and merged with toasted rice flakes, chili flakes, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce, and maybe a few sprigs of mint. I simply can't get enough of this!
There you have it, 11 awesome Thai dishes that are not nearly as well known as Pad Thai or Green Curry!