Isaan food

What is Isaan food in Thai cuisine?

What is Isaan food in Thai cuisine? In this post I will explain to you about how Thai food is devided in region and I will focus on the North Eastern Thai Cuisine.

There are mainly 4 different style of Thai cuisines and they are:

  1. Central Thai cuisine – Includes Bangkok and other region in the central part of Thailand
  2. Southern Thai cuisine
  3. Northern Thai cuisine
  4. North Eastern Thai cuisine – Which is the one that I will be talking about today.

The Thai name for North Eastern Thai cuisine is Isaan food. I would like to introduce to you guys about this type of cuisine because the taste is very distinctive, refreshing and also there are many dishes such as papaya salad, that is popular around the world.

What I will cover in this post is:

  1. I will talk briefly about Isaan food culture.
  2. What are some popular dishes that you should try to make or try when you visit Thailand.
  3. Lastly is Isaan dining style. I will demonstrate to you how to combine dishes to create a better overall flavour and dining experience.

Isaan is actually the name of North Eastern Region of Thailand. This part of the land doesn’t have access to the sea and it hasn’t got much forest area either. The land is quite empty and therefore suitable for culturing animal.

Isaan people are therefore good at preserving food and use them as part of the key ingredients.

Some of the preserved food include meat jerky, and fermented fish, which is call “Nam Pla la”. It’s use to add saltiness in Traditional Som Tum and other dishes.

Here is the key elements of Isaan food:

  1. Isaan food has spicy flavour
  2. Many dish consist of local fresh herbs
  3. Isaan food is famous for raw food
  4. Coconut milk isn’t part of the diet
  5. Sticky rice is the main carbohydrate source.
  6. Lastly Isaan food comes in simple and natural-style presentation

What are some dishes you should try to take to try when you visit Thailand?

Here are some of my favourite dish that I would recommend you to try.

  1. Papaya Salad
  2. Larb – Minced meat salad
  3. Tom Sab – Spicy sour soup
  4. BBQ Chicken
  5. Isaan sausage
  6. Steamed sticky rice

When you order Thai dishes, it’s important that the dish complements each other.

Here is an example.

On the table I have Salad – which give the flavour of spiciness, freshness, crunchiness

Then I have BBQ meat, which helps to tone down the spicy and sour flavour, and also protein source to the meal.

Next, is the soup. The soup is needed to add some liquid to the meal, makes it easier to eat. In Thai we said, take a spoon of soup to help you swallow easier.

Lastly, I have sticky rice. Sticky rice is the main source of carbohydrate of the meal, the flavour is plain and therefore it goes well with everything, and it helps tone down sweet, salty, aspicy and sour flavor from every other dish.

In Thai dining, to compliment dishes is like creating another new dish, which determine the flavour and overall experience of dining, each dishes makes the food taste better in that meal and it creates Umami taste.

Do you want to start learning how to cook Thai food? I have a free workshop here that will get you started in 4 simple steps.

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