Rare Thai Dishes, Brave Enough to Try These?

Photo of Kaitlin Kimont
24 November 2016

Forget the Pad Thai and fried rice and opt for some original, albeit a bit unusual, Thai dishes on your next trip to Thailand. This list is not for picky eaters or the faint of stomach. But if you are an adventurous eater and strange foods excite your taste buds, then feast on these special Thai creations, as you’ll most likely only be able to find these dishes in the kingdom itself.

Yam Pla Dook Foo | © Hunter Ellentuck

Yam Pla Dook Foo (Crispy Fried Catfish with a Green Mango Salad)

‘Fluffy’ and ‘crispy’ might be the best words to describe this dish. Catfish is flaked into teeny tiny pieces and is then fried, creating an airy, crunchy and, yes, fluffy fish salad. But, don’t eat the fish on its own, the secret is in the sweet, sour and mildly spicy green mango sauce. This dish is best as an appetizer with a group of friends. Eating an entire serving of this may be too much for just one.

Koi Nuea | © Hunter Ellentuck

Koi Nuea (Spicy Raw Minced Beef Salad with Herbs)

Eat at your own risk: The beef is indeed raw but it is indeed delicious. Imagine a beef Carpaccio salad with a spicy Thai twist. This raw beef salad is mixed with Thai herbs and sauces (like fish sauce and mint), a handful of spicy chilies and a squeeze of a lime for a nice, sour kick. The lime acts a bit as a double agent, first to help add flavor and second to “cook” the meat. When preparing food, cleanliness and hygiene standards are not as strict in Thailand as they are in Western countries, hence the risk. So, if you’ve got a tough stomach and perhaps a supply of Imodium handy give this very unique, delicious dish a try.

Goong Ten | © Hunter Ellentuck

Goong Ten (Dancing Shrimp)

“It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s alive!” Thank you, Frankenstein. Yes, the shrimp in this dish are in fact alive. It might seem a bit strange and feel a bit creepy to eat something that is still living, but this Thai creation is a local favorite and an unforgettable and entertaining experience as the shrimp “dance” around in your mouth with a burst of spicy and sour flavors. The live baby shrimp are mixed together with Thai seasonings, fish sauce, ground roasted rice and dry chili and a bit of chopped onion. When you’re ready to eat, squeeze the lime juice over to top to make the shrimp squirm and squiggle as your begin to devour. It’s crunchy, spicy, sour and you might find your newest ticklish spot.

Pak Ped Tor | © Hunter Ellentuck
Hoy Kraeng | © Hunter Ellentuck

Pak Ped Tod (Fried Duck Beaks)

Forget about your fondness for Donald and Daffy for a minute to dig in to a crispy plate of fried duck beaks for a full-on fun and challenging eating experience. The beaks have some of tastiest bits of the duck fried with the savory and fatty duck skin. The beaks are first marinated with a salty soy sauce concoction then fried for a crunchy coating, and usually served with a spicy dipping sauce. As the marinade breaks down and softens the bones they are sometimes okay to eat, but some people opt not to. Challenge yourself to find some of the yummiest bits of duck. When you do, you’ll surely feel rewarded.

Hoy Kraeng (Blood Cockles)

Blood cockles, also known as blood clams, are a popular street side snack in Bangkok. Its name comes from the reddish hue of the meat, not actual blood. Still, the name is intriguing. Mostly blood cockles are served steamed or boiled, as eating them raw could leave your stomach doing somersaults. Order a plateful, pick one that’s fresh with its shell opened, then drench it in the sauce and enjoy.

Khanom Buang | © Nate Gray/Flickr

Kanom Beuang (Sweet coconut “taco” crisps)

To finish off your unique Thai food experience, reward yourself with this sweet Thai “taco” dessert. Imagine tiny and crispy tacos with a sweet coconut meringue filling topped with fresh grated coconut or a salty shrimp mixture that’s been made into a candy-like topping. Salivating yet? These little treasures are pretty easy to come by on many street sides in Bangkok. Make sure to buy a batch that’s been freshly made for you and dig in immediately.

All of these dishes are easy to find at many street side food stalls and many sit down restaurants in the city, but use common sense when eating anything raw. Remember you’re in Thailand and one of the best things you can do here is eat, eat, and eat some more. Enjoy!

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