The hottest time of the year has arrived in Thailand! What better way to celebrate the sweatiest time of the year, than with Thailand’s hottest foods?
This was exactly the thinking the US Embassy had when enlisting diplomats to taste test six of the spiciest Thai dishes they could find. The fun video starts with the least spicy and slowly builds up the heat with each progressive dish. The result is a quick video that helps introduce a few new Thai dishes to people around the world and wishes everyone a Happy Thai Year, which the Songkran Festival celebrates each year around this time.
Watch the video below and read on to learn more about the dishes that appear in the video. Have you tried them all? Join one of our cooking classes when you’re ready to spice things up!
6) Nam Prik Noom น้ำพริกหนุ่ม
Roasted and Pounded Thai Pepper Dip
Warm up the palate with a dish that is often served as an appetizer in Northern Thailand, nam prik noom. The chili dip is made up of medium-sized and juicy light green peppers that most closely resemble banana peppers. Keep in mind though, the flavor and spice level can vary depending on the vendor. The best versions are charcoal roasted before being pound in a mortar and pestle to make a soft, stringy dip.
Spicy Bonus Facts:
Nam prik noom is most often enjoyed with a variety of ingredients to dip into the paste. While most of them are raw and blanched vegetables, the most infamous is pork crackling. The curly pork rind is tough and crunchy making it easy to scoop up the dip, and the combination of textures makes it super addictive!
5) Pad Grapow ผัดกะเพราหมู
Garlic and Chili Stir Fried with Minced Pork and Holy Basil
The most famous of the dishes on this list is pad krapow. For Thais this is the repeat go to dish when you’re unsure what exactly you’re craving. If the spicy, umami combination is right it hits all those hard to reach cravings while giving you plenty of fresh chili — and fish sauce soaked chili as a condiment to increase the heat.
If you noticed one diplomat asking about an egg, the spiciest versions are usually served with a crispy fried egg, or kai dao. Crispy on the outside and slightly runny inside, the yolk helps to tame the spice and add texture.
4) Mama Pad Kee Mow มาม่าผัดขี้เมา
DrunkenInstant Noodles Stir Fried Chili and Green Peppercorn
Among Thailand’s spiciest noodle dishes you’ll always find pad kee mow ranked near the top. The dish combines your favorite noodles, in this case instant noodles, with fiery fresh chili and green peppercorn. When flash stir fried in the wok, the smoky noodles and overpoweringly heaty flavors can really separate who can and who can’t handle the heat!
The term kee mow is an adjective to refer to someone who is regularly drunk. Since this spicy dish is a favorite hangover cure, it’s not incorrect to translate it literally as, “A Drunk’s Noodles” as the fresh chili and numbing peppercorn forcefully shock you back to life.
3) Gaeng Hed แกงเห็ด
Northeastern Mushroom and Pumpkin Soup
This list is suspiciously missing papaya salad from Northeastern Thailand. However, there’s another dish more people should know about from this region called gaeng hed. This soup uses local ingredients making it hard to find outside of Thailand, but often has plenty of spice from fresh chili and funk from fermented fish paste.
The soupy curry contains lots of mushrooms, pumpkin, bamboo, and lemon basil to tame the heat, it also means chefs making it can add even more fresh chili. This is definitely a dish that you taste and think you’re eating something mild, only to have the gradual, lingering spice build up to a long lasting burn inside and outside of your mouth!
The dark color of the broth can be attributed to the yanang leaf (tiliacora triandra) which is blended to make the base of the soup. If you can survive all the heat and the funk, you may also benefit from the healthy properties of this leaf which is known to help regulate body temperature, a much-needed benefit this time of year!
2) Gaeng Tai Bla แกงไตปลา
Spicy and Pungent Fish Intestines Curry
If the name hasn’t already scared you away, the fragrant and appearance just might. This murky curry often tops most spicy lists with its spicy and powerfully pungent nature. One sip is enough to give you a dizzying dose of seaside fish market vibes, just before the visions of hell takeover. If fish intestines aren’t funky enough, the most popular way to enjoy this painful curry is over fermented rice noodles. Don’t even bother troubling the restaurant staff because true to the nature of southern Thai food, there is no mild version of this soup!
Not familiar with why anyone would want to eat fish intestines? The process for sun drying the stomach and intestines of the fish with salt is ancient and similar to the centuries-old process of making fish sauce. While these funky and fishy flavors have been mostly omitted from western diets, they’re still a rich source of umami goodness cherished by coastal communities in Thailand.
1) Gaeng Leung or Gaeng Som แกงเหลืองมะละกอปลา
Sour Yellow Curry with Fish and Pickled Papaya
Thailand’s hottest dish, according to US Embassy staff, is another famous curry from southern Thailand called gaeng leung or gaeng som. While not as funky as the previous curry, this means the chili in the curry has the full attention of your taste buds. Meaty chunks of fish and pickled papaya can provide a brief reprieve from the heat. However, let’s be honest there’s no real escape from this heat.
Unlike the more common versions of Thai curries, this dish has no coconut milk as a creamy backdrop to soothe your tongue. Instead, the curry paste is added directly to water or seafood stock. This gives the curry a more soupy consistency but also makes it more dangerous. With a close look, you may even be able to spot some of the speckles of the ridiculous amount of pulverized chili, turmeric, and other herbs used to make the intense paste.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to try this dish, the closest combination of flavors would be from tom yum soup. The sour tartness of the curry comes from the addition of tamarind, pineapple, or lime, and can make the dish a pleasantly addictive way to burst into flames. While tom yum may be more well known outside of Thailand, there are few meals in Southern Thailand that aren’t accompanied by this spicy cornerstone of regional cuisine.
Good news for our cooking class students, we’re upgrading our most popular recipes with new, downloadable cards to help you prepare to cook with us. Each of the cards features fun illustrations from a local Thai artist, aimed at helping you remember exactly which ingredients you need to buy. This means shopping for your favorite Thai meals like pad see ew noodles, green curry, and tom yum soup is now even easier. You’ll be able to jump into our virtual cooking classes, hosted on zoom, knowing you’re fully prepared with all of your ingredients.
We know shopping for ingredients can be intimidating. In some stores even the aisle for soy sauce and fish sauce can seem endless and overwhelming. To complicate matters, some people may be dependent on online deliveries during the pandemic and need to make sure they’re purchasing the correct ingredients. We hope the recipe cards will make this process easier, helping you find the right ingredients for tasty renditions of your favorite Thai foods.
You can find the recipe cards in our virtual courses, like our Thai Cooking Class Starter Kit, with lots of supplementary info on ingredients. For example, a key ingredient for our Pad Thai recipe is tamarind. However, the tamarind you find in the stores comes in many formats, and we have had guests purchase sweet tamarind, instead of the sour tamarind pulp needed. The information we provide in the virtual courses (which are smartphone responsive for access on the go) and the downloadable shopping cards for the recipes should help prevent these mistakes.
If you don’t already have access to a virtual course, you can purchase it, or receive access when you sign up for a zoom cooking course through Airbnb. In addition to these recipes we do take other requests in our private classes. If you’re planning a large cooking session or corporate learning activity, we would be happy to help.
As these course choices become more popular we will continue to add more recipe cards to new dishes and do our best to help you navigate cooking your favorite Thai dishes.
Credit: Special thanks to graphic designer Yui for all of her hard work helping to beautifully illustrate so many of these Thai ingredients!
As we approach a year since our plant based and vegan delivery service began in Bangkok, we’re sharing our recipe for chickpea salad. This simple dish has been one of the most popular recipes this past tumultuous year.
We hope this filling, oil-free, and healthy dish will also become a staple in your kitchen as well. The recipe is great for people with dietary restrictions, can be used as an appetizer, and versatile enough to include other vegetables you may have on hand.
Remember if you find this recipe helpful to consider making a donation to Courageous Kitchen. For our friends and fans Bangkok based, you can order this dish from our menu, where you can also find our delivery schedule and other details.
Today’s recipe share is a tribute to my grandparents for Black History Month. In memoriam we’ll be getting into the kitchen to make a dish called creamed corn. This staple side in southern cuisine is something you might find on the dining room table at family gatherings, or as a side at a favorite bbq joint. Today’s version though, brings Thai flavors to this dish and has been written to make it easily repeatable at home.
There’s so much Black History to share this month and always. And yes it’s important to know the most famous events and people, but learning the history of people you know can help make the month more meaningful. So I’m honored to share a little about my grandparents, whose shoulders I stand on today.
In particular, my maternal grandfather, whose cast iron pan never moved far from the stovetop. His name was Harold Dunson, but people knew him as ‘The Vegetable Man’. After working for US Steel in Birmingham, Alabama for 35 years, he retired but never quit working. Instead, he started a small business delivering vegetables on the west side of Birmingham for decades.
Some of my most vivid memories of my grandfather were of him waking early, likely 4 or 5am, to get a jump on the bunches of collard and turnip greens he would slice and prep for his customers. He powered through with hot coffee and the help of his favorite prep knife, that had been repeatedly wrapped in worn masking tape to make it easier to handle.
When daybreak came, he’d already have breakfast on the stove by the time my sister and I woke up. The long day’s work required hearty morning staples like biscuits, grits, bacon, and fried fish. After all, he was delivering to Black neighborhoods long underserved by grocery stores. He provided senior citizens with limited mobility to have access to fresh vegetables and fruit by bringing them to their doorstep and allowing those with limited finances to buy ‘a dolla‘ of this and that from the back of his truck. All of this happened long before we invented the term food desert, in swaths of Birmingham with more liquor stores and fast food than anything else.
Now Mr. Dunson may not appear in your history books, but I can’t help but summon him in my work today. Even though I live half a world away from where he spent most of his life, his compassion for people and his quiet perseverance to serve them into his early eighties still inspires me.
In remembrance of this hero, I’d like to share a dish from his cast iron pan called creamed corn. This isn’t the dairy and bacon grease laden recipe you will find on websites dedicated to southern and soul food. That’s no discredit to soul food, but having the traditional version too often can be unhealthy. Instead, I’m making a Thai style creamed corn with fresh aromatics, grilled or roasted corn, creamy coconut milk, and a bit of spice. The resulting dish should be smoky and creamy, sweet from your corn and coconut milk, and pack a mild spice kick.
I hope you’ll join me in sharing this recipe, and reflecting on where Black History has brought us today as a society, and in our individual lives.
The recipe is below, happy cooking and special thanks to the US Embassy in Bangkok for helping highlight this story and recipe with a video and Thai language recipe cards.
Thai Style Creamed Corn
This recipe serves 1 person or can be shared as a side dish. The recipe can be made oil free, gluten free, and vegan if desired.
Optional utensils include mortar and pestle, and non stick frying pan or wok.
200g Corn (about 1 cup, optionally grill and cut off the cob for extra flavor)
100ml Coconut milk
Oil for cooking (optional, since the coconut milk is rich in healthy fats/oil)
Here’s a quick update to everyone who has been supporting Courageous Kitchen, especially if you’ve been interested in attending one of our virtual classes. The live zoom classes we offer are booked through Airbnb and we’ve made some important changes to our prices. Most significantly, we now offer a discount on our group bookings and have a special price for kids!
In addition to helping you find a place to stay when traveling, Airbnb offers travel related activities too. Through the Airbnb Experiences program, when booking travel to Thailand, you may also see a recommendation for a Thai cooking class like ours. Well, with much of international travel on pause we’re fortunate to share that these classes are still happening virtually.
From the safety of home you can still experience a bit of Thai culture with the help of video technology and your taste buds. Our experience offers guests the chance to join on us zoom to make pad see ew noodles, green curry, or tom kha soup. However for larger private groups we offer discounts and the chance to customize the menu to your Thai favorites.
Zoom Cooking Class Perks:
Live HD Instruction with Two Cameras
Supplementary Course Materials to Help with Substitutions and Shopping for Ingredients
Discounts for Groups
Access to 10 of Thailand’s Top Recipes
Special Pricing for Kids (Kids Recipes Coming Soon)
Thai Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes Also Available
Recently Airbnb has also introduced pricing for children. This means you can get the whole family in the kitchen working on Thai food together. In the past, the per person pricing has led to a lot of confusion about how to work with families with children under 13. Hopefully, the new cheaper pricing takes some pressure off of parents and is a chance to get your young cooks enthused about diverse types of food and cultures.
Finally, don’t forget all bookings include access to one of our virtual courses. Currently, we offer either Thailand’s Top Recipes and Thailand’s Top Vegetarian Recipes to all students. Both of the courses are supplementary to our live zoom classes and leave participants with some extra recipes to try on their own. There are currently about 10 recipes featured, including favorites such as pad see ew noodles, green curry, and tom yum soup. However, we’re adding a recipe for our kid’s version of pad thai and will have other easy recipes for young chefs in the future.
Thank you for your continued support. We’re fortunate to able to continue connecting with people and fundraising for those in need virtually. Airbnb has also recognized this virtual experience as an official Social Impact activity, so all proceeds from course will go back to Courageous Kitchen. We hope that’s more than enough reasons to join us in cooking class session soon!