This rice in this Indian-influenced dish is loaded with fragrant spices and cooked slowly with ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and chicken juices. Fried shallots, fresh cucumber and a sweet chili sauce are the finishing touches, though some vendors, like this one, take a more mix-and-match approach to rice and meat selections.
Fish in Banana Leaf
One of my unexpected breakfast treats at the Krabi wet market, these steamed banana leaf packets contained a tender nugget of white fish mixed with coconut milk and herbs. The fish is served with a bowl of fresh rice noodles doused a mild in curry gravy, with a separate bowl of fresh herbs and raw vegetables on the side.
Things on Sticks
Fried chicken, spiral-cut hotdogs on sticks, and Angry Birds fish cakes: the backbone of Thai street food.
Plastic Bag Sorcery
One phenomenon that will never cease to amaze me is the Thai street vendor’s skill with plastic bags. Everything comes in plastic bags. Iced tea. Soup. Curry. Stir-fries. Live frogs. They never pop, they never spill, and sometimes the rubber bands were tied on so tightly I couldn’t even open the things. They are made of magic.
A typical prepared foods display, with curries and stir-fries sold by weight or available by the plate for casual sit-down dining. You can bet every dish here will be packed into an aforementioned plastic bag if it’s traveling anywhere.
Sticky Rice Snacks
Grains of sticky rice fried to a puff, then drizzled with a palm sugar caramel sauce: I shall not debase myself with Rice Krispies Treats ever again.
Crabs, Up Close and Personal
Sure, there’s fresh seafood aplenty all over Thailand, but it’s especially easy to find in the South. Look at this crab roe! This guy will probably end up curried or steamed.
Fermentation in Action
Various buckets of variously-flavored fish sauce in various stages of fermentation are a mainstay at nearly every market in Thailand, making for a particularly pungent shopping experience. One Southern specialty is tai pla, sauce made from the fermented viscera of mackerel, which is used in a thin, spicy local curry.
Whole herb-stuffed, salt-coated fish grilled over an open flame. Once you peel away the salty charred skin, the meat inside is unbelievably tender and flavorful. I had this served with an assortment of raw herbs and vegetables.
As a complete cholesterol hound, I was smitten with these these delicate egg yolk desserts (found all over Thailand, not just the South). Yolks and sugar are spun into threads or rolled into balls (or other ball-esque shapes), then soaked in a light syrup that reminds me of Indian gulab jamon.