Less known delicious Thai foods you should try

Before living in Thailand, what we know about the country's culinary scenery is very limited to Pad Thai, Pandan Chicken, Thai Mango Salad, and surely the superstar Tom Yum Goong with its sibling Tom Kha Gai. 

After arriving, we discovered early on that most locals don't eat Pad Thai, they're more prefer a dish called Pad Kra Pao. Khao Man Gai (chicken rice) is everywhere and ridiculously cheap, most of the street food lunch spots provide free drinking water, there are tons of variants of Som Tum, and the street food on most parts is well thought out and managed.

After one and a half years of discovery, we strongly feel that there are traditional Thai foods that needed more exposure due to their amazing taste, so be sure to include these foods in your eating itineraries.

Halal-wise, all options mentioned here are non-pork, though cross-contamination might occurs.

1. Pla Dook Foo

This is a "cotton" crispy fish made of ground catfish meat deep-fried in batter. The result is a texture play that begins with crispiness as you bite the dish, but then after some while, turns into a pleasing chewy texture, packing a punch of umami from the fish meat and the batter. Depending on the variant, you would either get a Pla Dook Foo with sweet and sour sauce, Nam Pla Dook with fish sauce and mixed with raw shallots and raw mango, or Yum Pla Dook with raw mango salad on the side.

2. Som Tum

This dish is so amazing that Red Hot Chilli Peppers made a song about this, ",,, Som Tum I feel like I don't have a partner, som tum I feel like, my only friends..." 

Joking aside, what's commonly known as Thai Papaya Salad, turned out to have endless variety. Everything can be turned into Som Tum, from raw papaya (i.e. the original version), green mango, sweet corn, fermented crabs, seafood, salted egg, and century egg. If you can think about it, then there's probably a Som Tum version of it.  

Our favorite version is the Som Tum Mamuang (green mango) for the contrast of spicy savory sour taste, and Som Tum Khao Pod (sweet corn) for its sweetish flavor.

3. Larb

Imagine Som Tum but done with meat instead of vegetables. A definitely must ingredient of Larb is khao kua, or toasted sticky rice. It adds a crunchy texture to the dish, moderating its spiciness, and adds a nice roasted aroma.

The most popular version of Larb is definitely pork, however, the chicken version is also very popular. Beef and lamb version is quite rare, while the less common version but definitely worth trying is Larb Ped or Duck Larb (left one on the previous photo).

Don't be discouraged by its pale looks, because the taste is definitely awesome. So awesome, KFC Thailand decided to have their own version of fried chicken larb, sold as Spicy Chicken Rice Bowl, another definitely must try if you ever encountered one.