The Most Fascinating and Strange Thai Foods

by Peter Sacco on February 4, 2013

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Peruse the street fairs and open-air markets and you’re bound to come upon some fare that looks very unfamiliar to your more subdued palate.

Sure, several of Thailand’s most out-of-the-box cuisine is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, but this is probably the last thing on your mind if you’re brave enough to sample the local delicacies.

durian

Durian fruit….wildly popular, totally stinky.

If you find yourself on a street in Krabi with a growling stomach, here are some of the most fascinating and bizarre dishes you might encounter.

Durian

Look at the menu offered at almost every restaurant, stand and cart in Thailand and you’ll notice a fruit called durian. Your first instinct might be to think, “It’s a fruit. How bad can it taste, smell or be going down?” As you step closer to the strange, studded fruit, you’ll begin to notice the distinct odor of compost, burning garbage, day-old soiled diaper and just a hint of garlic and gasoline. If the smell isn’t enough to repel you, chances are, the fruit’s gelatinous texture will send you over the proverbial edge.

Durian is a wildly popular fruit in many parts of Southeast Asia, but don’t be surprised when you’re asked to toss out your leftovers immediately upon entering your hotel or stepping on a city bus.

“Stinky” Tofu

Tofu is another one of those innocuous foods that you’re sure is a safe bet among the strange fare found throughout Thailand; however, you might want to think twice if any synonym for “stinky” is attached to the label, because when it comes to Thai cuisine, you should always take the threat of a pungent odor very seriously.

First conceived in Taiwan, “stinky” tofu is extremely popular throughout Thailand, China and Indonesia. The look and texture might be the same, but it’s the odor associated with this fermented dish of bean curd that leaves many running to the nearest fast food restaurant. If you’re concerned, please specify you want all of your tofu-based dishes absent of anything the locals insist you try.

Goong Ten

Otherwise known as “dancing prawns,” goong ten will test your resolve and might even spoil your love of this seafood forever. You might find it hard to believe that many Thai restaurants create a dish featuring wiggling, raw prawns as the main ingredient, but it’s entirely true.

The process starts by mixing a few stock ingredients, including vegetables and spices; however, the real fun begins as you watch the chef mix in the wiggling prawns. If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and try goong ten. At the very least, you can go home and tell your friends you actually did it.

Yam Kai Yeow Maa

Whether they come from a chicken, goose or quail, eggs are a staple in most cuisines across the globe. Leave it to the Thai people to take what could be a perfectly pleasant dish and turn it into one of the strangest things on any restaurant’s menu. Yam kai yeow maa is an egg dish, but don’t expect to find the main ingredient at your local farmer’s market. The duck eggs used in yam kai yeow maa undergo a unique preservation process that leaves them gooey, black and slimy. The dish ultimately tastes spoiled because in a way, it is.

Baak Bpet

During times of struggle, the citizens of many cultures found industrious ways to use every single part of a vegetable or animal; however, you might think the Thai people took this practice a little too far after sampling baak bpet.

Upon first glance, you might say to yourself, “Hey, that looks like a duck’s bill.” Congratulations, you’re correct because that’s the main ingredient in baak bpet. Luckily, it’s traditional to soften the beak by marinating it in soy sauce for hours, making it much easier to snap off a chunk and enjoy.

When touring any of the major cities in Thailand — including Krabi — don’t hesitate to keep an eye out for any of these unique, and in some cases disturbing, dishes; however, it’s probably wise to rest your stomach rather than continuing on your sightseeing tour, so instead of potentially losing your lunch on a tour bus, research the many Krabi hotels to stay at and give yourself a few hours before putting your palate to the test again.

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