Many of the 24 million tourists visiting Thailand every year do so in search of the sunshine, temples, and diverse landscapes that define the Land Of Smiles. But it is also a world-renowned destination for foodies. Scores of tourists visiting the country end up leaving with the perception that Thai food is simply about Pad Thai and Massaman curry. But for the brave souls willing to step out of their comfort zone, an incredible culinary adventure awaits, with some truly wacky dishes. If you have an upcoming trip planned to Thailand, here are four of the craziest dishes you need to try during your travels there:
Som Tam Pla Raa
Papaya salad with smelly fermented fish sauce sounds revolting, but if you sample this dish, you will be rewarded with one of the most flavourful salads of your life. Plaraa is a quintessential condiment in Thai cooking that foreigners rarely try, mainly due to the concept of six-month-old fermented fish and the off-putting smell of it. In truth, it absolutely stinks and doesn’t look particularly appetizing. If you can get past these issues, you will be rewarded with a pungent salad that is spicy, sour, and salty. The plaraa certainly tastes a lot more pleasant than it smells and adds a unique salty flavour to the salad without overpowering the dish.
Yam Kai Yeow Maa
Thais are sticklers for fermented foods — this salad contains century eggs, which are preserved for anywhere between a few weeks and a few months in clay. The pink shells often pique the curiosity of travellers, although when they find out what’s inside, that curiosity tends to turn to horror. The eggs are rather haunting to look at, with a brown, translucent white and a dark grey yolk. They are mixed with chilis, lime juice, cilantro, and garlic, and they add a wonderful creamy consistency to the salad for those daring enough to try it.
Tom Saap Teen Gai
This ferociously spicy and sour soup is absolutely delicious, but eating it comes with the proviso that you are willing to suck the meat from a chicken’s foot. The mere thought of eating chicken feet is enough to make some people gag, and the unappealing aesthetics of them don’t help — they are downright ugly. For those of you brave enough to try this dish, eating chicken feet can actually be quite satisfying. You need to work hard to get all the meat from each chicken foot and the taste is an oddly fulfilling combination of fatty and juicy.
Durian and sticky rice
Durian is often regarded as the “king of fruits” by Thailand natives. The smell of it has been described as that of rotting onions, and the creamy consistency is odd, to say the least. It is often paired with sticky rice, perhaps so tourists can eat just the rice if they decide that durian tastes ghastly. It is one of the most divisive fruits in the world, but it is worth trying to see at which end of the love-hate spectrum you lie.
So there you have it, four thrilling Thai dishes to try on your next trip to this amazing country. Whether you end up loving or hating the dishes mentioned here, at least you can return home with tales of a remarkable culinary experience.