Isaan thai food_ 6 northeastern thai dishes you should try – tieland to thailand

Isaan Thai food is renowned for its pungent sauces, spicy chilies, and unusual proteins. Easy fish curry recipe coconut milk It isn’t often in the spotlight but it certainly has its own die-hard fans who will travel far for Isaan food made right. Here are several crowd-pleasing dishes that we’ve eaten and think even first-time visitors will enjoy.


Best fish curry recipe indian A little background on Isaan Thai Food

Isaan is one of Thailand’s four regions (the other three are the Northern, Southern, and Central regions) and each has its own distinct cuisine. Easy quick curry recipe Here are a few regional characteristics of Isaan food in Thailand (or Northeastern Thai cuisine):

If you find yourself traveling in Isaan, or stumble across an Isaan restaurant while in other parts of the country, give the following a try: 01 Laab ??? | Minced Meat Salad

Note: ??? is often spelled l-a-r-b which is misleading because it does NOT rhyme with carb!

The telltale sign of laab is a plate of ground or finely diced pork (laab moo) that’s been tossed with fresh mint leaves, scallions, lime juice, dried red chili, and ground toasted rice. It’s a colorful dish, with speckles of deep red and white, and light and dark greens thanks to fresh herbs and spices.

It is also made with chicken (laab gai), liver (laab dtup) and fish (laab blah), but vegetarians can find versions served with minced tofu or mushrooms. Easy curry rice recipe Some laab is very dark reddish-brown thanks to an extra dose of smoky chilies and a spoonful of blood. Easy beef curry recipe nz There are also raw versions, but it’s not for the faint of heart!

Laab, or ‘minced meat salad,’ tastes a lot better than it sounds! Firstly, there’s no lettuce and it’s served warm, so the ‘salad’ aspect is a bit confusing. Easy beef curry recipe uk It has a salty, smoky flavor thanks to the fish sauce and ground, smoked red chili peppers. Easy beef curry recipe The protein is diced small and is tender. Easy beef curry recipe in slow cooker The chopped bright green spring onions, small purple onions, and dark green mint make it pop. Easy beef curry recipe south africa Lastly, the toasted, coarsely ground Jasmine rice adds an interesting textural component and nutty flavor.

Our absolute favorite version is laab blah tub tim grawp (????????????????). Easy beef curry recipe indian It’s a whole tilapia fish that’s been filleted and cubed, deep fried, and then tossed in the chili-fish-sauce-lime juice-toasted-rice-mint dressing. Easy beef curry recipe pressure cooker It’s to die for!

Laab is a very traditional Isaan dish with its original going back to Laos. Easy beef curry recipe coconut milk It’s no surprise since Laos is the region’s western neighbor. Kerala beef curry recipe coconut milk Just eat it with a spoon, fork, and a side of rice! 02 Gaeng Naw Mai ?????????????????? | Bamboo Shoot Curry

Gaeng naw mai is a Laotian curry that’s made its way over the Thai border and into the Isaan. Malaysian beef curry recipe coconut milk Its main ingredient is buttery-colored bamboo shoots but oyster mushrooms and cubes of orange pumpkin are often added, too. Ground beef curry recipe coconut milk The curry part is a thin, cloudy broth (similar in consistency to soup) that has a distinct greenish-brownish hue because of a key ingredient: nahm bai yanahng (???????????) or yanang juice. Beef curry recipe coconut milk slow cooker This is a medicinal green leaf (tiliacora triandra) that’s been squeezed in or pounded with water to create an extract used in cooking.

Gaeng naw mai is a mildly sour curry. Shrimp curry without coconut milk recipe The bamboo shoots have a uniquely earthy, lightly funky taste and the fermented fish sauce adds a distinct saltiness and pungency. Prawn curry coconut milk recipe It’s often made spicy with fresh Thai chilies. Authentic thai green chicken curry paste recipe The yanang juice doesn’t impart much flavor but it does thicken the broth slightly and adds color.

This is eaten like a soup. Authentic thai green curry paste recipe Ladle it into a bowl and eat with a spoon. Bon appetit! 03 Sai Grok Isaan ???????????? | Isaan Fermented Sausage

Sai grok Isaan comes in a few different shapes but it always packed in casings with an underlying peachy pink tone thanks to the raw, fermented pork within. Indian prawn curry with coconut milk recipe If you’re wandering around outdoor foods stalls, you can always find it smoking on the grill. Thai beef massaman curry paste recipe Look for a sausage that is either served on bamboo skewers (in the classic long sausage shape) or in smaller, snack-sized links of oblong spheres.

Also called Isaan sour sausage, it’s smoky and packed with a tangy flavor. Tesco thai massaman curry paste recipe It’s seasoned with salt and lots of garlic. Simple chicken curry recipe with yogurt Most recipes add cooked rice (other variations use glass noodles, too) but it shouldn’t be so much that it distracts or dilutes the fermented pork flavor. Simple chicken curry recipe indian style Biting into it and you’ll get a smooth, almost buttery sausage due to its high-fat content.

Some people might be turned off by the thought of eating fermented port. Simple chicken curry recipe with coconut milk However, salami and chorizo are made in a similar way and many have eaten those items without giving their process a second thought!

Sai grok Isaan can be a meal on its own or a snack. Simple chicken curry recipe Between bites, nibble on the accompanying slices of ginger, chopped raw cabbage, and (if you dare) prik kee noo chilis. Simple chicken curry recipe jamie oliver 04 Tom Saep ??????? | Hot and Sour Soup

A clear soup with lots of dark herbs and chunks of meaty bones. Simple chicken curry recipe indian The vegetarian version may have farmed or wild mushrooms to make it hearty. Easy chinese curry sauce recipe It’s served in the ubiquitous “hot pot” bowl made of clay or stainless steel with a mini food burner underneath.

It’s a sour and spicy clear soup that’s similar to tom yum soup. Mango chicken curry recipe jamie oliver It’s light and clean but savory and satisfying. Thai chicken curry recipe jamie oliver The fresh chilies in the broth create a slow burn that will have you searching for tissues after a few bites. Green chicken curry recipe jamie oliver The broth has a classic ‘Thai’ flavor thanks to the holy trinity of Thai flavors: basil, lemongrass (which doesn’t take like lemon), and kaffir lime leaves (which don’t taste like lime).

Tom saep is served family style in a large clay or metal pot from which everyone scoops a portion from into a small soup bowl. Butter chicken curry recipe jamie oliver Be prepared to dodge the kaffir lime leaves and pieces of lemongrass within the broth. South indian fish curry recipe coconut milk These herbs are there for flavor but aren’t meant to be eaten! The protein is cooked right on the bone, like pork ribs. Best chicken curry recipe ever so it requires a bit of effort to get to the edible bits. Best indian chicken curry recipe in the world 05 Som Tum Thai ???????? | Papaya Salad

This colorful dish is easy to spot – just look for a plate piled high with very light green (nearly white) shreds of raw, unripe papaya. Easy chicken curry recipe slimming world It’s usually dotted with bright red cherry tomatoes, tan peanuts, dark green yardlong beans, and bright orange dried shrimp.

Some people like to add in bpoo bplah rah (pickled blue crab and fermented fish sauce) or kai khem (salted egg). There are also variations of this dish where the main ingredient isn’t unripe papaya but kernelled corn, shredded carrot, diced cucumber, or lotus stems instead. Easy chicken curry recipe with curry powder Som tum can be found all over Thailand.

There are also variations of this dish where the main ingredient isn’t unripe papaya but kernelled corn, shredded carrot, diced cucumber, or lotus stems instead. Easy chicken curry recipe slow cooker Som tum can be found all over Thailand.

Som tum is the perfect example of how Thai food expertly combines sweet (cane sugar), salty (fish sauce), tangy (lime juice) and spicy (chilies) flavors all in one bite!

It’s fresh and crunchy because all the veggies are raw. Easy chicken curry recipe kerala It has a kick of flavor thanks to the garlic and fish sauce, and this is one of those dishes that no one bats an eye if you ask for it fiery hot. We like it so much we’ve dedicated an entire post to som tum.

Som tum can be eaten on its own but it’s common to eat it with sticky rice. Easy chicken curry recipe indian style Pinch off a small portion of sticky and work it into a small one- inch ball. Easy chicken curry recipe without coconut milk Flatten one side with your thumb and use it to pinch up the papaya salad. Chicken curry recipe with coconut milk and tomatoes Mop up the sauce with it, too.

An alternative is to buy a little baggy of kanom jeen (thin fermented rice noodles) and mix it into the som tum. Easy indian chicken curry recipe with coconut milk A perfect lunch for us is pairing som tum with sticky rice and grilled chicken.

Speaking of grilled chicken… 06 Gai Yang ??????? | Grilled Chicken

Grilled chicken is just grilled chicken right? Wrong. Best ever chicken curry recipe The kind found in Isaan has a distinct flavor thanks to its marinade and cooking style. Best ever chicken curry recipe indian Look for small whole chickens that are butterflied open (with or without bamboo spits) and are slowly cooking over a charcoal grill. Best delicious chicken curry recipe You know you have the right kind if you can spot what looks like little fibers coating the chicken.

There’s a lot of flavor thanks to the marinade. Traditional thai green curry paste recipe It’s made of garlic, coriander root, lemongrass, black peppercorn, fish sauce and soy sauce that’s been pounded together into a paste and then slathered onto the chicken. Thai kitchen green curry paste recipe The charcoal grill infuses an undeniably smoky taste. Thai green curry soup recipe easy The icing on the cake is the sweet and sour tamarind sauce.

The chicken is cooked whole but it’s usually chopped into roughly 10 or 12 pieces with a big ol’ meat cleaver and served on a platter. Vegetarian thai green curry recipe easy Pick the grilled meat off the bones and dip the morsels in the accompanying sauce. Thai green fish curry recipe easy Be sure to enjoy steamy hot sticky rice along with it, too.

Believe it or not, it was a challenge to pick which dishes we wanted to showcase in this post. Veg thai green curry recipe easy There are so many interesting items that we wanted to share with you.

Have you heard of any of these Isaan dishes? Which ones would you be most likely to try?

Wow! Chris and Angela, The photos you’ve posted in this article of Isaan food looks so good I almost want to eat the pics themselves. Chicken curry recipe indian style So much so, you’ve made my mouth water and now I’m going to have to make myself something to eat right this minute. Simple chicken curry recipe south indian style The one about the Stink Beans worried me a little. Chicken curry recipe indian sanjeev kapoor I was wondering why they call them stink beans though? Is it really because they make your pee stink? Reply

Hi, we’re Chris and Angela and we sold it all, paid off our debt, and left behind the nine-to-five lifestyle in the US. Thai yellow curry recipe coconut milk Today we live as full time expats in Chiang Mai, offering future expats and travelers firsthand knowledge about all things Thailand! Learn more about our story here…

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