Local Phuket Cuisine
While you are in Phuket it is worth sampling some real southern Thai food. Some of these you may have heard of and even tried before, such as Gaeng massaman and panaeng, both types of delicious curry. Others you most certainly would never have heard of, many of which are equally delicious.
Southern Thai food makes more use of coconut milk than elsewhere in the country. Curries are richer and creamier. The cuisine is influenced by nearby Malaysia; spices such as cumin, cloves, turmeric and aniseed, which are not used elsewhere in Thailand, are commonly used here. As a result of the heavy muslim influence, less pork is consumed here than in other parts of Thailand.
In Phuket, because many of the local people are descendants of Chinese migrants, the cuisine has a strong Chinese influence. This combined with southern Thai food and muslim food makes a very unique and interesting cuisine.
We have compiled a brief guide to some southern Thai and Phuket specialities that you won’t find in Thai restaurants overseas. You will be hard pressed to find these in the more touristy areas such as Patong, so you need to head for Phuket City. Alternatively, for great muslim dishes such as the massaman curry, head for Surin beach or Kamala.
A small pile of fragrant rice, accompanied by finely chopped heaps of lemon grass, peanuts, bean sprouts, green beans, sour mango and chopped kaffir lime is served with spicy chilli pepper, fresh lime and a piquant sauce known as naam boodoo. Kao yam is very popular as a breakfast dish throughout southern Thailand.
This is a dish of flour noodles topped with your choice of spicy curry. Each restaurant offers a variety of fresh and boiled vegetables for free which can be added to the noodels. Although popular at breakfast, you can find small shops and stalls serving ka-nom jiin throughout the day.
A small noodle soup with egg and minced pork, with roots in traditional Chinese-Fujian cuisine. Usually eaten for breakfast, this dish is not normally found outside of Phuket.
These are muslim pancakes, similar to western pancakes in some ways. They can be eaten with savoury food such as curry, or with sweet such as banana and chocolate. Although a breakfast food, hawkers can be found selling these throughout the day. Ro tees can make a lovely dessert.
Mee Hun Ba-Chang:
Small white fried noodles together with a pork bone stock, served with a golden fried radish on top is a popular lunch dish
Poh Pia Sod:
These are fresh spring rolls. They consist of white thin pancake rolls with roasted pork, cooked sprouts, cucumber, green salad and spicy sauces. They are different to fresh spring rolls found elsewhere.
A mouth-watering beef curry cooked with peanuts, potatoes and chopped red onions in a thick coconut cream sauce. This is perhaps the most famous of all southern Thai curries.
Steamed pork with a sweetened thick herbal sauce.
A spicy and sour fish viscera curry made with cumin powder, making it a beautiful yellow colour. Although it doesn’t sound that appetizing it is very popular among southern Thais. This curry is also a favourite for eating with the ka-nom jiin noodles.
Mee Pad Hokkien:
Basically hokkien stir-fried noodles. This dish has its roots in Fujian province in China, which is where many of the Chinese migrants came from to work the Phuket tin mines.
A dish of fried oysters served with egg and flour with a bit of spicy curry paste. Another dish popular among Phuket’s ethnic Chinese population.
The following are not specifically southern Thai desserts but are definitely worth trying while you are here.
Banana in sweetened coconut milk. Simple but delicious.
Kao Niew Ma-Muang:
Sticky rice in coconut cream with ripe mango. A favourite throughout Thailand.
Sweet shredded egg yolk. There are also other thong (gold) desserts, namely thong-yib and thong-yod, all of which are very sweet.
Nearly all Thai desserts are very sweet so if that’s not to your taste, end your meal with fresh seasonal Thai fruits. Watermelon, guava, papaya, pomelo and pineapple will be served at most good restaurants. Other seasonal fruits such as durian, mango, custard-apple, rambutan and mangosteen may also be served depending on the time of year.
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