Thai food has gained a reputation for being spicy, but central Thai cooking relies less on the chili pepper as a central ingredient, and dishes are generally milder. The cuisine of central Thailand is more focused on smooth tastes enhanced by slight spices and sweetening.
Popular Dishes in Central Thailand
A few of the more popular dishes in central Thai cooking are:
- Ho mok pla: Fish curry, wrapped in banana leaves, then secured with bamboo skewers and steamed for several minutes. The fish is finely diced, then mixed with eggs, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and chili.
- Kai phat khing: Chicken stir-fry including coriander, onions, fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, onions, mushrooms and sliced ginger. Served with rice, this dish is unique in Thai cuisine for its strong ginger flavor.
- Kai phat met mamuang himmaphan: Chicken and cashews, stir-fried with garlic, onions, chili peppers, wheat flour, oyster sauce, sugar, cooking oil, soy sauce and chicken stock. This meal is similar to the Chinese Kung Pao chicken dish.
- Pla sam rot: Fried fish, served with a sweet and spicy tamarind sauce of garlic, chili peppers, coriander, sugar, salt, tamarind water and fish sauce.
- Phak bung fai daeng: Vegetable stir fry, made primarily from Chinese watercress, this dish includes fish sauce, sugar, chili peppers, garlic, oyster sauce and bean paste.
- Phat khana muu krop: Stir-fried pork and Chinese broccoli, with added ingredients including garlic, red chili peppers, oyster and soy sauce, pepper and sugar.
- Thot man pla: Curried fish cakes, made from minced white fish meat, onions, garlic, lemon grass, coriander, galangal, pepper, kaffir lime, krachai root, chili peppers, salt and shrimp paste. The mixture is deep fried and frequently served with cucumber.
- Tom yum: Hot and sour soup, often with seafood or chicken. Tom yum consists of stock, lemon grass, kaffir lim leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, chili peppers, onions, coriander and sugar.
- Yam pla duk fu: Fried catfish, served with a salad made from mangoes, peanuts and lettuce. Spicier than most dishes in the region, the salad dressing used is made from chili peppers, onions, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce.
Central Thai cooking differs significantly from the hot, spicy and heavy southern Thai cuisine.