Northern vs Southern Thai food: A Comparison Between Northern And Southern Thai Cuisines

The north and south of each country typically have two different climates, thus two distinctive cuisines.

It is also true with Thailand, where Northern Thai food is very different from Southern Thai food.

Now let’s figure out how different they are and which regional dish reigns supreme in this article.

What is special about Northern Thai food?

Northern Thai food is a great example of how different cultures can come together to create something amazing.

Northern Thai cuisine uses ingredients from both the East and West, as well as influences from other regions like India.

This combination makes for some very unique dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

For instance, Northern Thai cuisine uses a lot of spices that are not typically found in Western cooking such as lemongrass and galangal root.

It also incorporates meat into many recipes which are unheard of elsewhere in Thailand.

One dish called “Khao Soi” is made with wheat noodles instead of rice noodles which is common in Southern Thailand.

Another dish called “Larb” consists primarily of minced pork or beef seasoned with a spicy chili paste, fish sauce, and lime juice.

However, in general, dishes from the north of Thailand have a milder taste than those from the South.

What is special about Southern Thai food?

Southern Thai food is a unique blend of Indian and Malay cuisines.

They come from the south of Thailand.

Southern dishes are usually cooked with coconut milk which makes them creamier than other Thai recipes.

You may have heard about a popular dish called Pad Thai but southern Thailand also has many other mouthwatering dishes such as green curry or stir-fried red eggplant with garlic and chili peppers.

Southern Thai food is not only tasty, but it’s also nutritious too.

One benefit to eating this type of cuisine is that it can be easier on your stomach because there aren’t any spicy ingredients.

It’s also easy on your wallet because you don’t need to buy expensive ingredients.

What are the differences between Northern Thai vs Southern Thai food?

Despite the same country origin, Northern Thai food and Southern Thai food are far from similar.

Here are some typical differences between food from these two regions of Thailand.

Southern Thai food is spicier than Northern Thai food

Southern Thai cuisine is strongly influenced by Malaysian and Java cuisines, in which indigenous people use a lot of chili peppers in their recipes.

That’s why Southern Thai dishes are packaged with a spicy kick, which is in contrast to the milder taste of Northern Thai food.

Seafood is more common in the south than in the north

This difference is because of the geographical location.

Southern Thai people have the ocean right from their doorstep.

Therefore, they have access to a variety of seafood, including fresh fish, shrimp, lobster, or squid which can be cooked in numerous ways, such as baked, grilled, pickled, or skewered.

Meanwhile, the ocean is far away from the north.

That’s why we don’t see much seafood in this region.

Southern Thai food uses more coconut milk in their cooking

Another difference between the two regional cuisines of Thailand is their use of coconut.

There is more rain in the south, which allows coconut to develop significantly.

Southern people usually use coconut products (water, milk, flesh) in their recipes.

The most typical dish is curry, which is normally thicker in the south because of the use of coconut milk.

Whereas the north just uses broth or stock to cook their curries, so this dish is less creamy and thick like the southern counterpart.

Soft-boiled rice is popular in the south, while the north prefers sticky rice

You can also notice that they eat different kinds of rice.

In the south, Jasmine rice, a fragrant long-grain variety, is the most popular and is the best.

On the other hand, northern Thai rice is usually sticky rice, which is glutinous and short-grain.

The signature dish from this kind of rice is mango sticky rice.

What are the similarities between Northern Thai vs Southern Thai food?

Thai food from the north and the south is very different, but they also share some similarities:

They both use fresh ingredients and various spices and herbs

Southern Thai food and Northern Thai food both focus on using only fresh ingredients rather than canned food like in American cuisine.

They use fresh vegetables, fresh meat and poultry, fresh seafood, and even fresh herbs and spices.

That’s why Thai food always has a natural and refreshing taste from the exotic ingredients.

Their dishes are flavorful and colorful

Another similarity between these two cuisines is that their dishes are very flavorful and colorful.

The use of different ingredients creates a balanced blend of five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter, and a vibrant presentation in their dishes.

Which one is better?

After reading this article, you should have a pretty good idea of the differences between Northern Thai food and Southern Thai cuisine.

But which is better? The answer is up to you.

Our advice is to try both so that you can make a better and objective decision on choosing Thai food from the north or the south. 

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