Thailand, a country where delicious food is something you can’t miss even if you try! It’s a place where you could eat all day long (which I did.. ;)) because it’s so cheap and tasty food can be bought on almost every corner of the streets. So to get you guys mouthwatering before you arrive, here is my top 10 of vegan Thai food.
While most dishes can be found all across Thailand and are the most well known, some might be harder to find. All the dishes were eaten vegan but this mostly wasn’t their default, I’ll note where you’ll have to ask for the vegan option. A good thing though; the vegan option is mostly the cheapest! Read in my Thai basic post how to order vegan in Thai. If you want to be safe, get your typical Thai dishes at the veggie/vegan places. If you’re up for a challenge try to make clear what you can or can’t eat.
A thing with street food, and sometimes even in Thai restaurants, is that the portions aren’t always that big. But it’s cheap so you’re not getting ripped off, and the positive thing about this is that you can order multiple/other dishes! Another thing you’ll experience is that not every food stall will give you the same tasty meal, so find your favorite among the many. And don’t worry about leftovers, everyone will fix you a take-away container (or plastic bag hehe).
There are plenty of snacks to eat throughout the day. Try the fried banana en (sweet) potato in batter, spring rolls (fresh or fried), tempura vegetables, grilled corn, banana or coconut in sticky rice (grilled and packed in banana leaves) and much more.
Khao pad (fried rice)
This one will be the easiest to find throughout Thailand. It’s tasty, (mostly) simple, cheap and satiating. Go and find your favorite fried rice place! Tell the cook that you would like fried rice without eggs.
Pad Thai (Thai style fried noodles)
Tasty rice noodle dish with sweet and sour tamarind sauce, bean sprouts and peanuts. Sometimes you can order the dish with tofu. Make sure to order without eggs and fish sauce. (The Pad Thai is usually served on a plate. I had this fancy Pad Thai at On’s place, recommended to check out when in Kanchanaburi. I wrote more about it here: Vegan cooking class at On’s Thai-isaan restaurant. All pictures are from On’s place, can’t find any others atm)
Pad Pak Bung Nam Man Hoy (morning glory with salty soybean)
Pretty simple side dish, but I started to love this dish and ordered it with almost all my meals. It’s stir fried water spinach with salty soybeans (no these are not soft peanuts ;) )
Som Tum green papaya/green mango salad
It can be dangerously spicy, try to find your favorite spiciness. Start easy and grow resistance. Before you know it you’re addicted and start throwing chili on everything! Light and fresh salad, great as a side-dish. Be aware of potential dried shrimps and fish sauce use, if so, ask if they leave it out.
If you want to ask if they can leave out the fish sauce use: “mai ow nam bplaa” ไม่เอานำ้ปลา, or no oyster sauce: “mai ow nam man hoy” ไม่เอาน้ำมันหอย. They will then most likely just use soy sauce.
Penang and massaman curry
I love curries! Although red is my favorite (spoiler!), penang is a bit less spicy and has peanuts in it. Massaman isn’t so spicy, contains peanuts and has more spices (like cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg). Massaman also has potatoes in it. Caution: curry-pastes are sometimes made with fish sauce or ground shrimps. You might want to ask if they have used it. Although there is a chance they won’t understand what you mean. To play it safe, get your curries at a vegan place.
Phat si-io (or pad see uw)
Stir fried broad rice noodles with (sweet) soy sauce and veggies (ask to leave out the egg). It’s basic and maybe not even that culinary, but it’s filling, fat and salty :)
Banana flower salad
Haven’t seen this dish very often. But I had the best at On’s place. Even learned how to prepare it in her amazing cooking class. A must try if you see this dish!
The amazing and famous galangal citrus soup (with tasty herbs like lemongrass, kaffir lime and galangal) with coconut milk for a smoother (and in my opinion better) taste! If you don’t like coconut milk you can order the Tom Yum, which is the same except for the coconut milk. Yet again, risk of shrimp-paste or fish-sauce, to play it safe, get your soups at a vegan place.
Although I had a hard time picking my favorite since most dishes are very flavorful. I like the curries because of the texture and the rich flavors. The red curry wins from the rest because it’s spicy, a bit sweet and has coconut milk in it. You can wake me up for this dish any time!
Other dishes that didn’t make it to the list, but are definitely worth trying are; yellow curry (more turmeric, cumin, yellow mustard seed and coconut cream&milk) and green curry (if you can handle really spicy food!), vegan laap/larb (uncommon, mostly with meat. There was a cart in Kanchanaburi selling vegan laap, please let me know if she’s still there), sticky rice with mango and coconut milk (for dessert, or whenever you feel like it!)
And don’t forget to order a fresh fruit smoothie with every meal, oh whatever: with every breath you take! Get those vitamins with the help of a good ol’ brain freeze :) (ask to leave out the liquid sugar (no, that’s not coconut water!), smoothies are already sweet enough)
Enjoy the Thai cuisine and of course all the rest this beautiful country has to offer!
Want to read more? Check out Thailand vegan basics, Vegan food: Bangkok, Vegan food: Pai and be on the lookout for yellow vegan flags and the Thai character/word for vegan.
Back or still at home and craving Thai food? Check for recipes online or in the books ‘Bold Vegan Food of Southeast Asia’ and ‘Buddha’s Table’.
Ps. this post is not sponsored by On :) I wish!