A guide to Thai Takeaways

The exotic and aromatic flavours of Thai cuisine have established delicious dishes like green curry and Pad Thai as firm favourites among Britain’s takeout brigade. For many of us Thai is tempting, but still a bit of an unknown quantity, so we’ve dissected the most popular dishes on takeaway menus so you’ll know what’s in store…

Tom Yum Goong 

Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum Goong by Matt-Weibo, Flickr CC-BY-SA-2.0

Tom yum (or tom yam) is a clear, spicy hot and sour soup enjoyed through much of southern Asia. With the addition of prawns, it has become a firm favourite internationally in Thai restaurants and takeaway outlets. As a takeaway, the Tom Yum soup will probably be made from a commercially available bottled paste, and perhaps have some fresh ingredients added such as lime juice or lemongrass added, and be garnished with cilantro. If you note Tom Yum Gai on the menu this is the same soup, with chicken instead of prawns.


Goong Nam Peung 

Thai coconut shrimp

Thai coconut shrimp by Krista, CC BY 2.0, Flickr.com.

A super-popular starter, snack or side-dish, this is simply and deliciously prawns deep fried in a coconut batter (each chef usually has his/her own special recipe), coated with honey and sesame seeds.


Por Pia 

Thai spring rolls

Thai spring rolls by Ruth Hartnup CC-BY-2.0 Flickr.com

The term Por Pia indicates the Thai version of the familiar Chinese spring roll – meat, vegetables and/or glassy noodles wrapped in pastry and crisp fried, served up with a dip (usually plum sauce) as a snack or starter.  Por Pia Pak, is a vegetable spring roll; Por Pia Goong contains prawns; Por Pia Tod is the chicken variety, etc. etc.


Pad Thai

Chicken pad thai

Chicken Pad Thai

This stir-fried rice noodle dish is a street food from Thailand, which has now become an enormously popular takeaway around the world. Made with soaked dried rice noodles, stir-fried with eggs and tofu, it is flavoured with tamarind, fish sauce, garlic, chilli pepper and palm sugar. Chopped peanuts may also be added, and vegetables like bean sprouts, garlic chives, and coriander leaves. It may also contain shrimp, chicken or another protein. It’s usually served with lime wedges.


Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai 

Thai Green and Red curries, with rice

Thai Green and Red curries, with rice. By David Carrington, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr.com

Of all the fragrant Thai Curries, green chicken curry is probably the most favoured on the takeaway menu. Besides chicken, it generally contains coconut milk, basil, lime leaves and aubergines. Can come in medium or hot strength, and usually served with jasmine rice.


Som Tam

Som tam and gai yang (grilled chicken)

Som tam and gai yang (grilled chicken)

A wonderfully tasty salad, Som Tam or Green Papaya Salad is a dish originally from Lao. It combines five flavours – sour lime, hot chilli, salty fish sauce and palm sugar. The ingredients are traditionally pounded in a mortar. It’s a great accompanied with grilled/barbecued chicken and sticky rice.

Other popular Thai curries:

  • Gaeng Dang Gai/Neua – Red chicken/beef curry with coconut milk, basil, lime, aubergines and bamboo shoots.
  • Panang – contains either lamb or chicken; medium hot with five spices and coconut milk.
  • Mussaman Curry – A rich but usually mild curry made with beef, mutton or chicken, spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and bay, and containing coconut milk, peanuts and potatoes.

Continue to Thai Terminology

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