How To Order Spicy Food In Thailand

Thai food is well-known around the world for its complex flavours and its spiciness. Thai food outside of Thailand can be considered spicy, but I guarantee that the level of spiciness has been adjusted to local preferences.

For anyone that’s been to Thailand and savoured any of the many spicy dishes will understand that saying ‘not spicy’ can still mean a level of spiciness well-beyond what you expected.

Chilis are not the only ingredient that give heat to a dish. In Thai cooking, many of the ingredients add to the heat – Thai garlic, red onion, galanga, holy basil, all of these have their own spiciness!

So how do you order a spicy dish at a level of spiciness you can handle? Read through this guide and prepare yourself properly so you know how to order spicy food in Thailand.

Phet Maak – Super Spicy

Isan Cooking (Northeastern Region)
Gang Kheow Wan Cooking (Southern Region)

Som Tum (Papaya Salad)
Tom Yum Goong (Prawn Soup)
Tom Saab (Pork Soup)
Kra Pao (Thai basil chicken stir fry)

Pad Kee Mao (Chili basil noodles)
Sai Aua (Spicy sausage)
Larb Gai (Minced chicken salad)
Nam Prik Noom (Spicy pork crackling)

Phet Baan Glaang – Mildly Spicy

Gang Pet (Red curry)
Gang Keow Wan (Green curry)
Gang Garee (Yellow curry)
Massaman Curry

Tom Kha (Coconut soup)
Khao Soi (Coconut curry soup)
Hor Mok (Steamed fish in banana leaf)

Phet Noi – Not Very Spicy

Isan sausage
Satay Chicken
Green Mango w/ chili

Yen Ta Fo (Pink noodle soup)
Kratem Prik Thai (Garlic and pepper stirfry)
Khao Man Gai (Boiled chicken)

Mai Phet – No Chili

Pad Thai (Stir fried rice noodle)
Pad See Ew (Stir fried rice noodle w/ soy sauce)

Ladna (Rice noodles in gravy)

Khao Pad (Fried rice)
Ba Mee Moo Daeng (Barbecue pork with egg noodles)
Boat Noodles (Soup with pork offal)

You Can Always Add More Chili Yourself

On every table is a condiment caddy holding four jars – its always the same four things in every eatery. Its called krueang proong and if its missing from your table you can ask for it by name or with a hand gesture. Pretend you are carrying the caddy with your fingers, that is the universal hand gesture for Thai condiments.

Chili powder
Chili vinegar
Fish Sauce


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