I am compelled to write a post about Thai street food because I adore it so much. Personally I would rather eat food found at a market or on the street in Thailand than at a restaurant. It amazes me what beautiful food that a Thai person can produce using simple ingredients on hot coals attached to the side of a bike or a cart that is pushed around on 3 wheels.
There is so much variety & flavour from the little carts on the streets everywhere you go in Thailand but the street food in the North of Thailand was particularly delicious & there was so much variety. It is impossible for me to write about every dish so I have picked a few of my favourite.
Pork & chicken are very readily available all over Thailand. My absolute favourite item from a street cart are these pork skewers. I manage to find a cart selling these every day for breakfast or a snack. They are a little bit sticky & sweet with hints of smokey flavours.
In Thailand there is an abundance of the most beautiful tropical fruit & the Thai’s love it. Not surprisingly you find fruit being sold on every street corner. It is most often beautifully cut up & packaged then sold with a wooden skewer so that it is easy to eat. You may also find a fruit cart where they cut it up on the spot for you. It is wonderful because you are never short of a healthy snack in Thailand.
This is a fruit stand where it is already cut up & bagged with a price on the bag. These bags are all priced at 10 Baht which is about 30 cents.
Below is an example of green mango which is a very popular snacking mango in Thailand. The fruit is hard & crunchy like an apple with underlying hints of mango flavours. This stand was cutting up whole mango’s & selling them with a dipping sauce made of palm sugar & chilli.
Thai’s love treats & desserts. I really liked these little treats (which are not compliant with my usual real food pledge!) They are made of sticky rice with banana in the centre & served with shaved coconut. I have not seen them anywhere else in Thailand other then Chiang Mai. You can buy them at all the food markets in Chiang Mai or from any vendor selling sticky rice products.
We commonly know about sticky rice & mango but there are many versions of sticky rice & particularly in Chiang Mai. Here sticky rice is made with brown sugar & sprinkled with peanuts & sesame seeds. I love how it is served in banana leaves, I was compelled to buy food from a street vendor simply because I think that it looks cute!
Everywhere you go in Thailand you will find dried fish or fish that is cooked in salt like these ones for sale. I have eaten a whole cat fish from a street vendor but that is about the extent of my experimentation. Fish is usually cooked whole rather than filleted. Even when you buy fish at a restaurant it is served whole. Chiangmai is not anywhere near the ocean however fish & seafood is still readily available. There is a large river running through Chiang Mai called the Ping River & many other rivers in the area where the locals catch fresh water fish.
You can also buy fish served in curry paste & steamed in banana leaves. It is absolutely beautiful if you have a love of spicy curry. I have enjoyed trying fish this way but only in small doses as I am not used to that much chilli! You can see how spicy that little packet is just from looking at the photo.
I can’t write about street food in Chiang Mai without mentioning Papaya Salad. It is not special to Chiang Mai as you can get papaya salad everywhere in Thailand. I have eaten this dish from the top of Thailand to the bottom & I love it! It is the same everywhere you buy it no matter what street cart you buy it from. It is made in a big wooden bowl & served in a plastic bag. If you are lucky you will get a little paper plate to eat it from! I always ask for only 1 chilli other wise it is too spicy for me to eat. I have posted a recipe on how to make a traditional papaya salad here.
Thai people love sausages. You an buy them all over Thailand from street vendors. There are all sorts of versions of sausages for sale. Some look more home made & real food compliant, others look highly processed. It is the perfect snack or quick lunch if you are eating on the run. We have really enjoyed trying the different sausages available. They are cooked over hot coals so have this beautiful smoky flavour.
I could write pages & pages about the wonders of Thai street food. I have taken hundreds of photos of street food & thinking about it now make me just want to teleport back to the streets of Chiang Mai. I drove my family crazy constantly stopping to taste & take photos of food! The smells, colours, tastes, hassle & bustle is what I love. For now I can just dream about returning soon.