One of the most wonderful things about being in Thailand is the dynamic variety and incredible tastes of all the tropical fruits rarely seen in the west.
To add to that, fruit in Thailand is relatively cheap and each month brings new succulent delights to tantalize the taste buds. Known here as the “king of fruits” the durian is a must-try. Although some people are put off by the smelly sock odour, many find the sweet, buttery taste to be worthwhile. The fruit has a firm, yellow flesh covering large seeds. If you can’t stand to eat it fresh, then try the lighter durian chips or the cooked, sticky form of durian called durian kuan.
Kaffir limes have almost no juice but the rind is very aromatic and is thus grated and used in many flavourful dishes. The lime’s lemony fragrance is used to enhance soups as well as fish and chicken dishes. The leaves of the tree are often added to soups like tom yum, as well as to stir fries,curries and salads.
Coconut is used in many Thai dishes. Perhaps the most memorable place you will find it is as coconut milk in green chicken curry. Coconut milk is used in many desserts too, such as bananas cooked in sweetened coconut milk. Young, tender coconut flesh is also very popular in desserts.
You’ll find lots of cooked bananas everywhere, from the grilled plantains in the markets to the fried bananas along street stalls. The soft hearts of unopened banana flowers are used to make a soup and are also a good salad ingredient, much like artichokes. Nothing is wasted as banana leaves are used in Thai cooking to wrap food before steaming, roasting or grilling. Banana leaves are also used in presentation cuisine and even folded into pretty decorations.
Covered in a beautiful deep purple skin, mangosteens contain white flesh with a rubbery texture. It’s often served with ice cream or mixed in fruit salads.
Ripe mango is used in one of the most popular Thai desserts – mango with sticky rice. Sweetened coconut milk is added to the warm sticky rice for extra sweetness and flavour. You’re sure to run into this dessert at least once on a holiday in Thailand.
Yam som-o is a variation on traditional som tum and is made using pomelo as the base. Similar to grapefruit, pomelo from the citrus family is often paired with spicy dishes to counteract the hot flavours.