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Ryan: All About Thai, lesson 7 - Top Five Thai Dishes! Hi everyone and welcome back to All About Thai. This time, we’ll be talking about Thai cuisine. Thais really love their food. The world of Thai cuisine is absolutely huge!
Rawinporn: It really is! It’s hard to summarize Thai cuisine in just one lesson.
Ryan: And I think when most people think of Thai food, they have an image that they just can’t shake.
Rawinporn: Is that Tom-yum-gung?
Ryan: A lot of it probably begins and ends with Tom-yum-gung and green curry, but there is so much more to it, and we’ll go into a lot of Thai dishes in this lesson.
Rawinporn: So, maybe you shouldn’t listen to this on an empty stomach.
Ryan: Okay, where shall we start?
Rawinporn: How about table etiquette?
Ryan: Sure! Thai people uses spoon and fork by holding the spoon with their right hand and the fok with their left hand.
Rawinporn: When you go to Thailand, don't use your fork to put food in your mouth; instead, use it to push your food onto your spoon.
Ryan: How about the knife?
Rawinporn: There's no need to use a knife, since all the food is already cut.
Ryan: That’s smart!
Rawinporn: All dishes are shared. When you are eating with a group of people, please serve yourself, but only what you can eat in two or three mouthfuls. Please take your time and try everything.
Ryan: Okay, I got it.
Rawinporn: Next, I’ve got the list of the top 5 foods to try in Thailand.
Ryan: Who chose them?
Rawinporn: Well, I asked my foreign friends and my husband’s colleagues, so it’s not based on our official research or anything.
Ryan: So, basically, these are the foods we think the listeners should try. What’s the first food on the list, khun Rawinporn?
Rawinporn: dtôm-yam
Ryan: Now, dtôm-yam almost doesn’t need an introduction, but we’ll explain it anyway because I have heard that there are some misconceptions about dtôm-yam.
Rawinporn: Dtôm-yam refers to spicy and sour hot soup. You can add any kind of meat. For example, shrimp, pork ribs, chicken, seafood, and so forth. It doesn’t have to be only shrimp.
Ryan: Yes. If you add shrimp, you’ll call it dtôm-yam-gûng, because gûng is shrimp.
Rawinporn: If you add pork ribs, it’s called dtôm-yam-sîi-khroong-mǔu.
Ryan: For dtôm-yam with chicken, it’s dtôm-yam-gài.
Rawinporn: And dtôm-yam-thá-lee includes seafood.
Ryan: Dtôm-yam is quite common in Thailand. You can find it in most of the restaurants.
Rawinporn: Well, let’s go with the second dish on the list.
Ryan: It is dtôm-khàa-gài.
Rawinporn: Khàa means "galangal." Gài is "chicken." Therefore, dtôm-khàa-gài is a hot and sour soup with galangal and chicken.
Ryan: Dtôm-khàa is somewhat similar to dtôm-yam, but galangal and coconut milk are added into the soup.
Rawinporn: Next is gaaeng-khǐiao-wǎan.
Ryan: Oh, the coconut curry made with fresh green chilies and flavored with basil.
Rawinporn: Yes. You can add chicken, beef, or bpala-graai (fish meatballs) along with Thai green eggplant. You know what, actually, green curry is not curry?
Ryan: Huh? How come?
Rawinporn: Okay, we didn’t add any curry powder into green curry. It is fresh chili paste made from green chili, garlic, and many kinds of herbs.
Ryan: Yeah, it’s great. Way up there on my list of favorites. What is the fourth dish on the list?
Rawinporn: Gaaeng-phá-naaeng, a mild, creamy, coconut curry with beef, pork, or chicken.
Ryan: The taste is a bit sweet and smells like it’s full of herbs. This dish is not so spicy. Therefore, it’s just perfect for me.
Rawinporn: And the last on our list is phàt-phàk-bûng-fai-daaengyo.
Ryan: What’s that?
Rawinporn: It is a stir-fried morning glory with yellow bean paste. Some Thais who love spicy food also add some chilies into this dish as well.
Ryan: So, other than this list, what food do you recommend to our listeners, Khun Rawinporn?
Rawinporn: Well, I would recommend ii-sǎan food.
Ryan: Ii-sǎan food?
Rawinporn: Yes! Ii-sǎan means the northeastern part of Thailand. People in those areas eat sticky rice instead of normal Jasmine rice.
Ryan: So, what is your favorite dish among ii-sǎan food?
Rawinporn: Umm…that’s a difficult question. Normally, I order many, many dishes when I eat ii-sǎan food. Popular ii-sǎan dishes in food, for example, sôm-dtam or “papaya salad” and lâap which is a ground pork, beef, or chicken salad with onion, chilies, roasted rice powder, and a mint garnish.
Ryan: Mm, sounds good.
Rawinporn: And then gài-yâang or “grilled chicken.” You can find ii-sǎan food anywhere in Thailand since it is quite popular among Thais.
Ryan: Please be careful though, if you are not familiar with spicy food.
Rawinporn: How about you, Khun Ryan?
Ryan: For me, I like food from open-air food stalls.
Rawinporn: Really? Me too!
Ryan: Yes. They provide cheap, local, everyday food. For me, food from a food stall is tasty, fast, and cheap.
Rawinporn: What is your favorite dish.
Ryan: I like phàt-sii-íu.
Rawinporn: Oh, me too! Phàt means “stir fry” and sii-íu is a “thick, sweet soy sauce.”
Ryan: So, phàt-sii-íu is a dish of rice noodles fried in soy sauce with kale, egg, and usually, pork, but I always get it made vegetarian.
Rawinporn: Oh, I didn’t know you were a vegetarian. Do you have trouble finding vegetarian food in Thailand?
Ryan: Not at all! One word for vegetarian is jee. You can just add this to the end of the name of the dish to order a vegetarian version of your favorite fried noodles or curry. So, veggie green curry would be…
Rawinporn: Gaaeng-khǐiao-wǎan-jee.
Ryan: That’s right. Thai cuisine has a huge variety of foods for you to try. You’re sure to find something you like. That does it for our lesson on cuisine.
Rawinporn: sà-wàt-dii khâ.
Ryan: Bye.