Buying food in a Thai Food Market (Dalat as it is pronounced) is an experience for sure!
We all love to eat food and buying food is part of our everyday existence. But buying food in a Thai market is definitely an experience you will not forget. If you set up home in Thailand you need to consider where you will buy your food from. Of course eating out is very convenient, but not everyone can afford to dine out every night. Local foreign supermarkets are often very expensive and limited. So what other options are available to you?
You have passed these markets on your travels around Thailand. Some Thai markets are huge in size, other less obvious. Inside they offer a range of products ranging from meat, vegetables to spices and pre-cooked meals. The markets mostly comprise of open stalls and work surfaces. Some traders sell their goods from a mat on the floor. Meat stalls are very interesting as they sell virtually every part of an animal, yes we really do mean every part!
Language is a barrier, as many of the traders speak very little English. But hold your product up, or point to it and ask how much and they will know what you are asking for. It’s amazing how when money is involved, suddenly communication is not a problem. Naturally if you go with a Thai person it makes life easier. They can communicate for you as well as tell you what some of the products are that you see on display.
What can I find in a Thai Food Market?
As we have already mentioned, there is little left of an animal that doesn’t get sold. There are many strange looking vegetables on display and plenty of pre-cooked soups. Here are five of our favourite foods you will find as you wander around.
#1 – ปลานิลเผา BBQ Fish
This is a great way to enjoy eating fish. The fish is skewered, stuffed with lemongrass and cooked over hot charcoal. The fish is cooked to perfection and is very moist to eat. It does take an experienced hand to make sure to remove the bones. Although, this is not as hard as it may seem. Once the skin is peeled back and the meat of the fish removed, the bone can be easily removed. Be careful to not miss some of the smaller bones on the edges. The fish is sold with a bag of raw vegetables and a bag of sauce. This is one of the best dishes available from a Thai food market in our opinion.
#2 – ไส่อ่อนทอด Fried Pigs Intestines
Granted this may not appeal to everyone. This dish is very tasty and very popular with Thai people. Pigs intestines are par boiled to start and then deep friend to a crispy golden finish. Breadcrumbs or batter are added for personal taste if required. Served with a Chilli dip to enhance the flavours. Although not meal on its own, this dish is a perfect side dish for accompanying rice and soups. Be sure to make certain the person selling the intestines checks the intestine is clean, in other words there is no waste inside. If you forget to check you will have a very unpleasant reminder you should have asked before you cooked the intestines!
#3 – ไส่กรอกหูม Thai Sausages
Thai sausages come in various styles. Some are packed with rice, some with chilli and some with just meat. The most common sausage is pork due to the cost. Pork is far cheaper than beef and more affordable. Rice sausages are mixed with pork and sometimes chilli. Served with raw cabbage and raw green or red chillies. The idea is to bite a mouthful of sausage, and chew along with a raw chilli and a piece of cabbage. May not sound that nice but when you try it the taste is actually quite nice. The meat sausages will differ dramatically from European sausage standards. You will be lucky not to find a small piece of gristle or perhaps bone. They grind the meat down and there is no guarantee from seller to seller what is inside the sausage.
#4 – กุ่งใหญ่ Large Prawns
Grilled prawns has to be one of the nicest meals around if you enjoy seafood. In the markets you will find sellers who have trays of prawns on offer. We recommend that you should look for the stalls that have the prawns still alive in water trays. There is no guarantee how long the other prawns have been on the tray for, and nobody wants a touch of food poisoning, especially from prawns. Prawns are very cheap when compared to European prices. Prawns start from as little as 150B per kilo. The bigger prawns can cost around 280 – 350B a kilo. Again, these are very reasonable prices. If you want the prawns de-shelled, then you have to buy the prawns off a tray. watch the speed of the sellers as they take off the heads and remove the shell, it really is fascinating to watch.
#5 – ขนมไทย Thai Sweet Desserts
If you have a sweet tooth then this is heaven for you! Thai people love a sugar overdose, and what better than a nice sugar rammed pudding. They come in many different colours and tastes. Some you eat as they are and some come with rice or a fruit. be warned, they really are packed with sugar! If you have young kids then you may wish to think twice about allowing them to eat these as they will be bouncing off the walls afterwards with energy!
Advice on eating food from a Thai Food Market.
Go with an open mind and be prepared to see things you may have never seen before. Do not be offended to see hygiene issues presented to you, this is Thailand not your local supermarket. Be sure to examine your food thoroughly, and if you buy prawns, buy fresh ones! The meat is better to buy in the mornings as chances are it will be fresher.
Vegetables and fruits are fine to buy, and there is often many varieties available. Vegetables are very cheap to buy, but shelf life is less than you would expect in Europe. Fruit can stay fresh for a good four to five days but some vegetables, especially herbs, last only a day or two.
If you buy a property in Thailand, you may need to consider if you live near a market. Thai food Markets open at 2am or 3am in the morning. Yes people really do go shopping at this time of the morning. Whilst this is probably nothing to worry about, you many need to consider and noise issues etc. Night markets are also a consideration as traffic congestion can be an issue. The bigger more popular markets often bring roads to a stand still for hours at a time!