10 weirdly wonderful dishes you have to try when you’re in Thailand

This article was created for The Travel Project by Mira Gietzel, a 20 year old Aussie currently living in Paris.

Among so many reasons to visit the vibrant country of Thailand, the unique food is right up high on the list.

As well as classic Pad Thais and green curries, there's a whole host of strange and surprising culinary treats that aren't for the faint hearted. So why not step out of your food comfort zone and discover a new dish you can freak your friends with back home?

Here are 10 amazing and bizarre foods you should try during your next visit:

Takatan

Fried grasshoppers, known as takatan, are a crunchy delight loved by locals for their nutritional value that is high in protein and low in calories. This food is found widely throughout Thailand, sold in street food carts and restaurants, also among many other edible insects such as crickets, silkworms and waterbugs. Close your eyes and give them a try!

Meat on a stick

Very common to Thai street food is grilled skewers of meat ranging from fish, satay chicken, prawns, squid and the very popular Moo Ping. Moo Ping is barbequed pork accompanied by a dipping sauce made of tamarind and fish sauce, sugar, chilli, rice powder and onion, that has a sweet yet spicy flavor to compliment the smoky taste. To be cautious, observe the cleanliness of the stall and seek a street vendor that looks fresh and has an obvious cooler for storing meat.

meat-on-a-stick

Fried scorpions

After you’ve worked up the courage to try fried bugs, the next level of food daringness is eating a scorpion. These are very exotic and not a typical food among locals, but you can find them at the infamous Khao San Road night market in Bangkok (as well as tarantulas?!). The scorpions are deep fried on a skewer and covered in seasoning or soy sauce. The venom is stored in the tail which the seller will remove, so they are perfectly safe to eat! Many compare the taste to chicken, crab and even potato chips due to their crunchy and salty texture.

fried-scorpions

Larb salad

Larb or Laab, is a delicious, chili and lime salad which comes in many varieties including chicken (larb gai), pork (larb moo) or even a vegetarian mushroom style. The popular dish is healthy, fresh and versatile which can be enjoyed on its own or with sticky rice, but be warned it usually comes with a spicy kick. 

If you’re more on the adventurous side, order the Larb Mote Daeng. This Thai delicacy is made with red ants and their eggs in a spicy salad, but surprisingly tastes better than it looks! 

However, you’ll need a stomach of steel for the niche salad specialty called Laab Dib, made of ground raw beef in uncooked blood and bile with herbs. There’s a high risk when eating raw meat due to bacteria, so I wouldn’t recommend this dish to tourists.

larb-salad

Durian

There’s a reason this Thai fruit is banned from airplanes and public transport across Southeast Asia, and that’s because it smells so damn bad. The smell is best described by food writer Richard Sterling as “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock”. The fruit is unique in appearance with a spiky green exterior, but despite the stench it actually has an acquired pleasant taste that is both savoury, sweet and creamy at the same time. Make sure you try it either fresh, dehydrated or in one of many durian flavoured products and candies throughout Thailand.

Goong Ten

Have a serving of Northern Thailand’s most lively dish, literally. Goong Ten, translating to ‘dancing shrimps’ is another one for the brave hearted. This dish is an assortment of live baby shrimps in a seasoned salad that squirms and jumps as you eat it. The throat tickling texture is paired with a salty spiciness that many tourists come to love.

goong-teng

Khao Kriab Pak Moh

This tasty Thai snack is found in many styles and shapes, typically in a pancake or steamed dumpling form, made with a rice flour batter with chicken, prawn or minced pork filling. You can also find them in bright colours in the street stalls of Phuket and Bangkok that make a great #foodporn photo for Instagram.

Thaew Dam Gaeng Bawd

Similar to other bean-based puddings across Asia,this traditional dessert consists of black beans in coconut milk that makes a delicious combo of creaminess and nuttiness. Other signature Thai desserts include the very popular Mango and Sticky riceand Sweet Roti made fresh by street vendors (Nutella and banana is my favourite filling).

thaew-dam

Gooay Teeo Reua

Translated as “boat noodles”, this dish gets its name because its was once served from boats along the canals of Bangkok and central Thailand. Gooay Teeo Reua is a slow cooked beef and noodle broth, seen as intimidating to many tourists because of its added ingredient of cow’s blood. You can still get an authentic serving along the Klong Samsen canal in Boat Noodle Alley.

Gooay-Teeo

Sataw stink beans

Thailand’s stink beans are a nutrition packed, flavourful addition to many dishes, frequently cooked with pork and shrimp in a stir-fry curry paste. If you can get past the stench described as methane gas, you can enjoy the benefits of the Sataw bean, that is said to lower blood pressure, prevent diabetes and cure hangovers.

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