Ever since I moved to Australia and after living in three different states, there is one thing I found in common with Thai restaurants, that is they have a set entrée menu. I’ve never known Thai food to be served in a specific order such as entrée, main and dessert. After I researched restaurant menus from other countries, I have found that Spring rolls, Satay Chicken skewers and Curry puffs are some of the most popular starters.
Spring rolls (Thai: ปอเปี๊ยะทอด) is believed to be from Chinese origins however others believe that this dish came from Vietnamese cuisine. Thai spring rolls fillings that I like contain ingredients such as garlic, coriander roots, pepper, pork mince, prawn, vermicelli, cabbage, carrot, mushroom, sugar, seasoning sauce and fish sauce. The crispiness of pastry and the juiciness of its filling is what makes this snack perfect for any occasion. We traditionally have it with fresh basil or lettuce to cut through the oiliness and dip it with spring roll sauce and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts. Spring rolls are also a great vegan option as you can use black or read beans as a filling. You can easily find Spring rolls at street vendors, the one in the image above was from China Town market in Thailand. Spring rolls are usually sold with other deep-fried snacks like tofu, taro and banana fritters.
Satay is grilled meat on skewers which originated from Indonesia but has become popular in Southeast Asian cuisine. In Thailand, Satay Pork or Moo Satay (Thai: หมูสะเต๊ะ) is a common meat used which is marinated with coconut cream or milk to make the pork tender, turmeric and curry power, lemongrass, galangal, pepper and coriander seeds for flavour and colour. Moo Satay is something you can expect from day and night markets anywhere in Thailand. I grew up with Moo Satay as my mum regularly ordered at least 100 skewers for us almost every weekend. It’s great to have with thick toast and dip in peanut sauce and Arjad*. When you order Moo Satay, sometimes you have to order a set of small (12 skewers), medium (16 skewers) or large (20 skewers) with prices around 60 to 100 baht (AUD $3 – $5). This marinated Pork Satay traditionally grilled on low heat over a coal stove makes it aromatic and keeps the moisture and flavour of the marinated pork. We can also include pork fat on the skewer or only lean pork.
* Arjad (Thai:อาจาด) pickled cucumber, long chilli and red onion in a mix of vinegar, sugar and salt
Curry Puff (Thai: กระหรี่ปั๊บ) comes in different fillings from chicken, taro, tuna, beans, cheese, pineapple, mushrooms etc. This snack can be both sweet and savoury. From my personal experience, one of the most popular curry puffs is from Saraburi province which is only an hour north of Bangkok, my family always stopped to buy a few boxes of different flavours and have it with tea or coffee for breakfast. The distinctive characters of curry puffs is a golden crispy pastry and its unsurprising long shelf-life from 7 to 14 days in the fridge. We can find curry puffs at almost every convenience store like 7 Eleven Thailand. Nowadays, the curry puffs are exported to countries in the Middle East as it provides a Halal option with a variety of filling. Also, a box of curry puffs can be a valuable souvenir or gift similar to a box of chocolate that you could take to visit your friends or family.
Next time, you get to order these three Thai entrée in any Thai restaurant or even wandering around in Thailand for light snacks, enjoy and eat like a local. Have a great weekend!