Thais are well known for constantly grazing throughout the day, rather than settling for three square meals as in many other cultures, especially in the west. As well as more substantial dishes, delicious snacks play a considerable part in the Thai diet – and these are some of our favourites.
Hawked at markets and street stalls across Thailand, kanom krok are rice-flour dumplings with a coconut-based filling and sweet or savoury toppings like taro, sweetcorn and spring onion. They’re eaten straight off the grill while still hot, and have a fulfilling richness that makes them the ideal snack.
One for those with a sweet tooth, kanom tuay are wobbly, custard-like sweets made up of two separate layers; you’ll find thick coconut cream on top, with chewier pandan-leaf-infused coconut milk below. Delicious warm or cold, they’re a great pick-me-up for when you need an instant sugar rush combined with the rich creaminess of coconut, and they’re a common sight at markets across the country.
Fish cakes are one of those dishes that have made it into the repertoire of popular Thai cuisine around the world – and they’re just as keenly devoured on their home turf. A relatively simple concoction of minced white fish, red curry paste, chopped green beans, and kaffir lime leaves, they’re shaped into discs and fried, before being devoured alongside sweet chilli sauce, fresh or lightly pickled cucumber slices, and perhaps some sticky rice. Tod man pla fish cakes serve just as well as breakfast as they do a mid-morning or afternoon snack, or even for those midnight munchies.
A staple at night markets across Bangkok and elsewhere around Thailand, pla sen is perhaps best described as a kind of fish hot dog. The minced fish concoction is deep-fried in hot oil, in which it quickly expands to become a light and airy log – it’s then chopped into strips and dipped in sweet chilli sauce.
Thailand is blessed with an array of delicious tropical fruits, so it’s no wonder that for many these are the best kind of snack of all. It’s not at all unusual to see hawkers along streets and at markets around the country hawking freshly sliced ripe and sour mango to be dipped in a combination of sugar, chilli and salt, and enjoyed with a skewer. Just as common are fresh watermelons and pineapples, diced up at the roadside into bite-sized chunks ready to eat there and then or take away. Take a look at our separate blog post to see more of the delicious, nutritious fruit that awaits you in Bangkok and beyond.
Thai-style grilled pork sausages make a comforting snack. These hail predominantly from the northern and northeastern Thailand and are loaded with herbs that, depending on which variety you tuck into, deliver either a sour flavour or a more balanced taste that’s probably closer to the kind of sausages you’re more used to. Since saigrog tend to be fairly greasy after grilling, they’re served with fresh, crunchy, fat-balancing vegetables like sliced cucumbers and chopped green beans.
Expique has a new base at Bangkok’s Pak Khlong Talat flower market – where, despite moves by authorities to clear up the area, many vendors remain inside the market itself. Inside the market, we run The Market Experience tours and workshops, among which is a class in making your own Thai snacks. Join us for a fun morning or afternoon of cooking and exploring, and go away equipped with the skills you need to concoct enough bite-sized pieces of Thai deliciousness to satisfy every craving!
On Expique’s signature walking and tuk tuk tours, the main focus might be less well-known and more unique sights around Bangkok – the kind of places most tours won’t take you – but we also allow plenty of time for you to tuck into delicious, authentic Thai snacks as we pass through local markets and hubs of streetside vendors. Join us on a tour and you’ll be sure to have the chance to taste plenty of the snacks on this list, plus many more!
How many of these Thai snacks have you tried? Let us know in the comments!
Photos by Davidlohr Bueso; Alpha; lynhdan.