A visit to Thailand is never complete without tasting its exotic cuisine. Thai cuisine is known to be delicious and incorporates the 5 main flavors: sour, spicy, salty, sweet and bitter. However, the Thai food scene is not limited to tom yum (sweet and sour soup), green and red curry, and som tum (papaya salad). You might be surprised how many unusual things are eaten in the Land of Smiles. Most of these weird Thai dishes are local favorites. If you are brave enough to try them, you might find that they are very tasty.
So, if you want to delve deeper into the Thai food scene and try the unique dishes, here are the 10 Weirdest Foods To Try In Thailand.
1. Sataw (Stinky Beans)
Sataw, also known as stinky beans or bitter beans, is known for its peculiar smell due to the high levels of amino acids it contains. Some people even say that the aroma is very similar to methane gas. But don’t let the smell put you off! These bright green beans can taste really good when cooked properly. Found throughout Southeast Asia, there are many different ways to cook beans. In Thailand, they are usually sautéed with pork or seafood, like fresh shrimp. If you want to try these beans, keep in mind that the smell doesn’t stop at the end of your meal – your urine may smell funny after eating them, too.
2. Goong Ten (dancing shrimp)
Goong ten is literally the liveliest dish in northern Thailand. It means “dancing shrimp” in English, and it describes the dish quite accurately. Goong ten consists of small, live shrimp mixed with chili, fish sauce, cilantro, onions and lime juice. The little shrimp start to “dance” when you spray lime juice on them. Hence the name. You eat the dish while the shrimp wiggle and jump again. The taste is spicy and sour, while the texture tickles the throat and is crisp. It can be an entertaining or a scary experience, depending on your state of mind.
3. Moak Huak (steamed tadpoles)
Mok huak is a traditional dish from Isaan (northeastern Thailand) that uses developing tadpoles as the main ingredient. Devouring a plate of tadpoles might not be appetizing for most people, but this dish is actually not that scary. Since they look like small fish and taste like boneless chicken, you might forget about the fact that they are tadpoles. However, they can be very smelly even with a strong seasoning, which makes it extremely difficult for many people to enjoy this dish.
4. Teen Gai (chicken feet)
To some people, eating chicken feet may seem strange as they are considered garbage in many countries. We understand that having your feet on the plate can be unappetizing, especially if you can’t forget what the chicken might be walking on when it was alive. But don’t worry, the outer layer of hard skin is removed and the feet are thoroughly cleansed. If you give them a chance, you might find that they are actually quite delicious. They taste the same as all the other parts of the chicken, except they have different textures.
Eating chicken feet is quite common in Asia and there are many ways to enjoy it. In Thailand, they are often braised or fried. A popular way to cook chicken feet is toss them in a spicy and sour broth similar to tom yum. You can serve them with steamed rice or noodles for a fresh and filling meal.
5. Pla Rah
The smell of pla rah is something you will probably remember forever. It’s so stinky and unpleasant that some people think it’s too much to deal with, but if you try it you might like it. Pla rah is basically made by letting the fish ferment in a jar for up to 12 months. After a while, the fish bathe in a pool of liquid. This is the liquid that will be added to a variety of dishes, especially Isaan’s famous papaya salad known as som tum. Although most people only use the liquid, it is also common to eat all the smelly fish. In the past, pla rah was often eaten in its raw form. Today, however, it is usually boiled first to reduce health problems.
6. Pig brain
The next weird Thai food on our list is pork brain. As strange as it may sound, eating pork brains is actually edible and considered a delicacy in some parts of Thailand. There are many ways to cook pork brains, but the most common dishes are pork brain soup (tom samong moo) and roasted pork brains from northern Thailand (ab ong or). In tom samong moo, the pork brains are tossed in a peppery broth, along with fried fish skin, offal and pork meatballs. In ab ong gold, the pork brains are seasoned with shrimp paste, lime leaves, lemongrass and other herbs. Then the brain is wrapped in banana leaves and roasted. Pork brains are no ordinary dish, but it’s worth a try if you’re a brave eater.
7. Larb Mote Daeng (red ant eggs)
A popular dish in northeast Thailand, larb mote daeng is not for the faint of heart. Made with red ants and ant eggs, the dish is said to taste better than it looks or looks. Red ants and ant eggs are mixed with fish sauce, cilantro, spring onions, vegetables and lime juice. Sometimes a fried omelet can be added to the dish. Ants and ant eggs can be eaten raw or cooked. The scary dish tastes sweet, bittersweet, and super crunchy. If you are an adventurous eater with a bold palate, you might like this dish and enjoy the whole experience.
8. Baak Bpet (fried duckbills)
Thais take the concept of not wasting food literally. Every part of the ducks, including the beaks, is eaten here. The spouts are marinated with soy sauce before being fried or grilled and served with a spicy dip. Take the challenge and you might find that this weird dish is actually very delicious and crispy!
9. Kai Yeow Maa (Egg Salad of the Century)
Kai yeow maa is a type of salad that uses centuries-old eggs as the main ingredient. Although they are called eggs of the century, they are in fact not a thousand years old. In Thai the name literally translates to ‘horse pee egg’, but don’t worry, they aren’t soaked in horse urine.
Century eggs are basically charred eggs that are kept for months in a mixture of ingredients like salt, lime, and ash. Due to the preservation process, the eggs take on a strange aroma. However, the Egg Salad of the Century really isn’t as bad as it looks or smells. The dish doesn’t smell bad since the eggs are mixed with other ingredients like cilantro, fish sauce and lime juice. Plus, the creamy eggs actually have a satisfying flavor.
10. Fried frog
Besides tadpoles, fried frog is another weird Thai dish that you might want to try. Frogs are usually coated in salt, garlic, and flour before being fried. Smaller frogs are eaten whole, while larger ones are cut into pieces. Eating frogs, especially as a whole, is quite difficult. However, they are actually very similar to chicken meat, both in taste and texture. It’s a bit of an acquired taste. Once you get past the looks, you might find that they are really delicious!
Thailand has more than its fair share when it comes to weird foods. The question is, are you brave enough to try everything on this list?
For even weirder food, check out our article on Foods and Drinks to Avoid in Thailand.