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Isan Food

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Isan food has elements most in common with Laos and is somewhat distinct from central Thai cuisine. The most obvious difference is the consumption of sticky rice that accompanies almost every meal rather than non-sticky long-grain rice. French and Vietnamese influences found in Lao cuisine are absent in Isan. Popular Lao dishes that are also staples in Isan include tam mak hung, or in central Thai, som tam (green papaya salad),larb (meat salad), and kai yang (grilled chicken). These dishes have spread to other parts of Thailand, but normally in versions which temper the extreme heat and sourness favoured in Isan for the more moderate central Thai palate.

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ต้มแซ่บ dtômsâeb

A spicy soup made with stewed meat (usually pork, chicken or beef), roasted fresh herbs and spices, ground roasted rice, and generous amounts of lime juice and fresh herbs just before serving.

แกงอ่อม gaeng om

A spicy Lanna "curry" with meat and several kinds of vegetables, and without any coconut milk.

จิ้มจุ่ม jîm jùm

A Thai style hot pot served in an earthenware pot where the ingredients (meats, vegetables, mushrooms, noodles) are cooked in a clear herb broth of lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Additionally, the broth can contain other herbs such as kaphrao (Thai holy basil), spices such as... more

จิ้งหรีดทอด jîng-rèet tôt

Deep-fried crickets, either Gryllus bimaculatus or, as shown in the image, Acheta domesticus. This dish is often eaten as a snack to go with drinks.

ปากเป็ดย่าง bpàak bpèt yâang

Delicious dish with alcoholic drinks.

คอหมูย่าง kor mŏo yâang

Grilled Pork Neck

แหนม năem

It is a fermented sausage made of pork skin, garlic, chillies and sticky rice.

แหนมคลุก năem klúk

Naem sausage (pork fermented with sticky rice) is mixed with boiled rice and then deep-fried. The salad is made by crumbling the deep-fried balls and mixing in sliced shallots, dried chillies, fish sauce and lime juice. It is served with raw vegetables and herbs.

เหล้าขาว lâo kăao

A distilled alcohol made from glutinous rice, it is often a home-made moonshine.

ไส้กรอกอีสาน sâi gròk ee săan

Grilled, fermented pork and sticky rice sausage, originally from the Isan region of Thailand. It can be shaped like a sausage, or as round balls. It is also often eaten as a snack at festivals and fairs, and served together with sliced ginger, bird's eye chillies and raw cabbage.

ลาบเนื้อดิบ lâap néua dìp

Thai lap-style "salad" of sliced raw beef.

ตับหวาน dtàp wăan

A spicy Isaan style salad with liver and mint.

ส้มตำปู sôm dtam bpoo

Green papaya salad with brined rice paddy crabs.

หมูน้ำตก mŏo nám dtòk

A very spicy salad made with pork (mu) and somewhat identical to lap, except that the meat is cut into thin strips rather than minced.

ก้อย gôi


Koi (Lao: ກ້ອຍ; Thai: ก้อย, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̂j]) is a "salad" dish of the Lao people of Laos and Isaan consisting of raw meat denatured by acidity, usually from lime juice. Common varieties include koi kung (ก้อยกุ้ง), with shrimp as the main ingredient, and koi paa (Lao: ກ້ອຍປາ)/koi pla... more

ยำหน่อไม้ yam nòr máai

A Northern Thai salad made with strips of boiled bamboo shoots, shallots, herbs, fish sauce, lime juice, and chillies.