Thailand's calling card to the rest of the culinary world, pad Thai doesn't need an introduction. There are an infinite number of variations on this timeless tradition, but usually noodles are dressed up with tofu, bean sprouts, onion, and the brilliant final touch: peanuts ground to near dust. Pad Thai is a diner-participation meal; you put on the finishing touches of fish sauce, sugar, chili powder, and crushed peanuts to suit your taste.
Som tam ' spicy papaya salad ' comes from northeast Thailand, but it's reached near-cult status throughout the rest of the country. Slight regional differences in ingredients means placement on the sweet-or-sour scale may vary greatly between restaurants. Common to all recipes is shredded green papaya and a healthy dose of heat. Barbequed chicken and lumps of sticky rice are the perfect companions.
Tom Yam Goong
This is the national aroma of Thailand, thanks to the generous use of fragrant herbs. Lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, and shallots provide the memorable smells, with chilis and fish sauce providing the kick. Substance comes in the form of jumbo shrimp (goong) and mushrooms. The flavour is a unique combination of spicy hot and sour and makes for an ideal start to a meal, or - when paired with rice - a worthy main dish.