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16 Strangest Food in Thailand - Would You Try Them?

16 Strangest Food in Thailand - Would You Try Them?

By Chris QuanUpdated Oct. 31, 2022

Thai food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world in 2020. Everyone knows the classic Thai dishes like Thai Green Curry, Pad Thai, and Tom Yum Soup and most tourists don't go beyond these staples on their travels.

We want to give you a chance to sample some dishes that you won't find in your tourist guidebook. In this article, we are going to share with you a different side of food in the kingdom. Here are the 16 strangest dishes to try in Thailand. The question is are you brave enough to try them all?

1. Larb Dib - Raw Beef Salad with Bile and Blood

A raw beef 'salad' made from freshly sliced beef with cow's bile and drenched in fresh blood. This bitter, grassy tasting bile can be a lot to take for a first-time eater; it is not for the faint-hearted. That being said, Larb dib is a delicacy of Thailand's northeast, so if you are an adventurous eater, you should definitely give it a go.

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2. Tum Kai Mot Daeng - Red Ant Egg Salad

Red Ant eggs are soft and juicy with a slightly sour lime-like taste. Tum Kai Mot Daeng is a salad made from the eggs with fresh Thai herbs, most commonly eaten across Thailand. Ant eggs only come around once a year, from February to June, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly if you want to try this unusual but tasty treat.

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3. Koong Ten - Dancing shrimp

Hailing from Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is the best place to try these tiny dancers. Koong Ten, which translates to 'dancing shrimp,' is precisely that.

A big bowl or plate full of tiny, freshwater shrimp dancing and jumping all over the place. The shrimp are doused in fish sauce and a healthy squeeze of lime juice, and it's the citrus in the lime that makes the shrimp do the 'dance.''

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4. Larb Leuad Neua

Larb leuad neua is a raw beef salad similar to larb dib but without the bile, which may make it that little bit easier for you to try. It's made with hand minced beef and a big dollop of uncooked blood, a kind of Thai beef tartare. Larb Leuad is mostly eaten in the North and Northeast of the country.

5. Snacks, Bugs and Insects

More common than you'd imagine on the streets of Bangkok, deep-fried bugs and insects are a local delicacy. Grasshoppers, giant water bugs, crickets, silkworms, and bamboo worms are all prepared in the same way, deep-fried until crispy and heavily salted.

Bugs and insects are prized for having a high protein content and very low fat, so for all you gym-goers out there, this is your go-to Thai snack!

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6. Grilled Field Rat

Eating rats could turn the stomach of even the most hardened travel eater. It's crucial, however, to distinguish between a typical city rat and a field rat.

Field rats snack on grains, fruits, and vegetables, seeds, and nuts, which means they don't carry the same diseases as the common sewer rats you might be picturing.

Field Rats are big business in the rural Issan community of North-East Thailand. They sell for more Baht per kilo than pork or beef. And, yes, you guessed it, they taste like chicken!

7. Kuay Teow Rua - Blood Noodle Soup

Boat noodles are a noodle soup made with an array of Chinese spices, sliced pork, pork liver, and Chinese water spinach.

It's thickened with raw pig's blood, which also gives a lovely rich flavour to the soup. It can be a bit daunting for westerners having blood drizzled into their soup, but think of it as the same as black pudding back home!

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8. Pla Ra - Fermented Fish Sauce

Pla Ra is a traditional Thai seasoning, hailing from the Northeastern Issan region as well as neighbouring Laos. It is made by fermenting fish with rice bran or rice flour and salt.

It is fermented in a closed container for at least six months and has a robust flavour and pungent smell. Pla Ra is a staple in many varieties of the famous som tum salad (papaya salad) in Thailand.

9. Kai Khao - Fetus Eggs

Kai Khao (balut in the Philippines) is a fertilized egg (chicken or duck) that are incubated for 14 to 21 days. Depending on the local culture, it is then boiled or steamed.

The fetus is eaten directly from the shell. Kai Khao is definitely not going to be for everyone, but if you are on the lookout for something out of the ordinary, look no further.

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10. Koong Chae Nam Pla - Raw Shrimp Salad

Koong chae nam pla is a Thai salad made from fresh raw shrimp soaked in Thai fish sauce and served with bitter gourd, raw garlic, Thai fern, chilies, mint, and 'nam jin seafood,' a spicy chilli, sugar and lime dip.

The shrimp need to be super fresh for koong chae nam pla, so we suggest you do your homework and find a reputable restaurant to try it.

11. Ab Ong Or - Northern Thai Grilled Pork Brain

Pounded pork brain won't be high on everyone's list of must-eat Thai dishes but it's actually surprisingly tasty.

The brain mixture is wrapped in a banana leaf with lemongrass, chilli and lime leaves and grilled over coal on a low heat. The result is better than expected. A creamy, fatty delicacy that is much better than you'd imagine!

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12. Gob Tod - Deep Fried Frog

Larger frogs are deep-fried and then cut into pieces. Smaller frogs are eaten whole. The deep-fried frogs are coated in salt garlic and flour before being fried.

The result is not at all dissimilar to southern fried chicken. Gob is mostly eaten in the North and Northeastern regions of Thailand, but as there is such a large Issan population in Bangkok, you can find them quite easily in the capital.

13. Khao Kan Jin - Northern Thai Steamed Pork Blood Rice

Khao kan jin is a dish originating from Northern Thailand, made from rice mixed with minced pork and pork blood. It's flavored with salt, fried garlic and shallots, steamed inside a banana leaf.

You don't really taste the blood; it just gives a really rich taste to this fantastic little garlicky snack. Khao Kan Jin is commonly found across Northern Thailand, but a few specialty shops do sell it ib Bangkok if you know where to look.

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14. Gaeng Tai Pla - Spicy Southern Thai Fish Organ Curry

Gaeng tai pla is a fiery hot Southern Thai curry. Its name comes from the tai pla, which is a sauce made from fermented fish entrails.

Gaeng Tai Pla is dark brown in colour, thick and rich. It has a pungent smell and flavour and is extremely spicy. You can find it at most Khao Gaeng, Thai for curry rice, shops in Bangkok and across Thailand.

15. Mok Huak - Tadpole in Banana Leaf

Mok huak is made from frog tadpoles, seasoned with a heap of lemongrass, chilies, and sweet basil. The mixture is wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over wood or charcoal. It tastes a lot like frog but without the bones. Mok Huak is full of nutrients. A real, local delicacy and not that easy to find.

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16. Ka Poa Pla - Fish Maw Soup

Fish maw is the swim bladder or gas sack of a fish. The fish maw is fried and then stewed in stock for hours with chicken bones and feet, bamboo, Chinese spices like star anise and cinnamon and oyster sauce, then finished with clotted chicken blood.

The end result is a think, gelatinous soup that is extremely popular with Thailand's ethnic Chinese population. Bangkok's Yaowarat Road in Chinatown is the best place to sample a traditional ka poa pla.

Find Your Inner Foodie with Asia Highlights

Let Asia Highlights help plan your food adventure in Thailand. Our team can arrange a food tour that is safe and hygienic with a local, English speaking guide to make sure you know exactly what you are eating. If you have any questions, please contact us.

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