Southern Thai Food You Must Never Miss!

17 May 2024
WRITTEN BY:pictureThanong A

Southern Thai Food You Must Never Miss!

Like its men, Southern Thai food is intense and deeply satisfying.  It’s about balancing bold flavors with fresh, local ingredients. Southern Thai dishes often feature ingredients such as turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and coconut milk, creating a rich tapestry of flavors.



Gaeng Som. Southern Thai Sour Curry

In Southern Thailand, the dish known as Gaeng Som has a distinct appearance and flavor profile compared to other versions. Unlike its coconut milk-based yellow curry counterpart, Southern Gaeng Som features a yellow, curry-like soup that is sour and spicy. Often called a 'yellow sour curry,' it should not be confused with Thai yellow curry. Gaeng Som is lighter, healthier, and more refreshing than the richer Thai yellow curry. It can be made with a variety of Thai vegetables, such as green papaya, long beans, bamboo shoots, or even taro.

Turmeric is a key ingredient, providing savory spice and sourness, which pairs excellently with fresh lime juice. The lime juice is added towards the end of the cooking process to achieve an authentic sour flavor that balances the spiciness of the chilies.


For the real deal, look or ask for sea catfish, “pla dook talay”


Khao Yam

Khao Yam is a traditional Southern Thai rice salad known for its vibrant colors and diverse textures. The dish combines rice with a mix of fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits such as kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, bean sprouts, and shredded coconut. It is often topped with dried shrimp, grated coconut, and a flavorful sauce made from fermented fish or shrimp paste. Khao Yam is typically served with a side of spicy, tangy dressing, which ties all the ingredients together. This salad is celebrated for its refreshing and aromatic qualities, making it a beloved staple in Southern Thai cuisine.


Yum Phak Kood

Yum Phak Kood, or Vegetable Fern Salad, is a traditional Thai dish that highlights the unique texture and flavor of young fern shoots. The ferns are blanched until tender and then tossed with a vibrant mix of ingredients including shallots, tomatoes, chilies, and fresh herbs like cilantro and mint. The salad is dressed with a tangy and spicy combination of lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar, creating a perfect balance of flavors. Often garnished with roasted peanuts or crispy shallots, Yum Phak Kood is a refreshing and aromatic salad that showcases the fresh, earthy taste of the ferns.


Southern prawn/chicken/beef breakfast curry with pickles

Southern Thai Prawn (or chicken or beef)  Curry with Pickles is a flavorful and aromatic dish that combines succulent prawns with a rich, spicy curry. The curry is characterized by its deep, bold flavors from ingredients like turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, and chilies, which are blended into a fragrant paste. Coconut milk is typically used to create a creamy base that perfectly complements the prawns. The dish is uniquely finished with tangy pickles, adding a refreshing contrast to the spiciness of the curry. Served with steamed rice, this Southern Thai specialty offers a harmonious blend of heat, creaminess, and acidity, making it a memorable culinary experience.


Pla Tod Kamin

Pla Tod Kamin features fish fried with turmeric. Fresh fish, often sea bass or snapper, is marinated with turmeric, garlic, and salt, infusing it with vibrant color and rich flavor. The fish is then deep-fried until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. This dish is celebrated for its aromatic and earthy taste, thanks to the turmeric. Pla Tod Kamin is typically served with a spicy dipping sauce and fresh herbs, making it a delightful combination of textures and flavors, and a perfect example of Southern Thai culinary tradition.


Stir-fried Melinjo leaves with Egg (ผักเหลียงผัดไข่) or Stir-fried Acacia leaves in Egg (ไข่เจียวชะอม)

Amidst the bold and assertive flavors dominating the dining table—spice, acidity, saltiness, and sweetness—it's often refreshing to take a brief respite. Local leafy greens, delicately stir-fried with egg, offer a palate-cleansing interlude. The vibrant greenery, combined with the creamy texture of the egg, provides a rejuvenating pause before indulging further in Thai cuisine.


Melinjo leaves, known as "Pak Leang," contribute a slightly bitter and chewy element, boasting high levels of antioxidants and resveratrol. Similarly, climbing wattle, or "Cha-om," rich in Vitamin A and aiding digestion, adds nutritional value to the meal. These vegetables, essential accompaniments to your curry, complete the dining experience.


Roti and Massaman Curry

Roti and Massaman Curry is a beloved Thai dish that marries flaky, pan-fried roti with a rich, aromatic Massaman curry. The curry, known for its mild yet complex flavors, combines tender meat, potatoes, and peanuts in a creamy coconut milk base infused with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. The roti, with its crispy exterior and soft layers, serves as the perfect accompaniment, soaking up the flavorful curry sauce and providing a delightful textural contrast.