Thailand is such an interesting country. The world cannot get enough of its colorful culture, amazing natural resources, blissful beach weather, cheap finds, and of course delicious food. If you will be spending a vacation in Koh Samui, Thailand, and are wondering what the typical local breakfast is like, you might actually be surprised. Locals don’t usually place distinction on the food they eat. What they eat for either lunch or dinner can also pass for breakfast food. There is basically no norm. There are just a number of food that are often chosen as a morning meal whether because they are particularly light and easy on the tummy, are readily available, or offer instant nourishment. Here are some of them.
Joke (rice porridge)
It seems that most Asian countries have their own version of porridge and in Thailand, it is called joke. If you will be visiting Koh Samui, be sure to try this because it is such a hearty dish. It is cooked by boiling rice with water until it dissolves. This dish is very similar to Chinese congee and is served and eaten hot. A whole egg is usually cracked open and placed on top to add flavor and a protein source. Cooked meat is also added along with some cooked liver. You may season joke with ground pepper and a little fish sauce as well as a squeeze of lime. Some prefer to add a few drops of liquid seasoning, which is also fine.
Khao Kai Jeow (Thai omelette served over rice)
Another popular morning meal choice is khao kai jeow. You can see a lot of vendors serving this early in the morning. Who can blame them when these never really get old. Simply put, you can’t beat an omelette because it is yummy, smells amazing, and is packed with nutrients. In Koh Samui, omelettes are often made from several ingredients and the most usual choices are onions, minced meat, and chopped vegetables. Once the omelette is cooked, it is served over rice and chili sauce for added taste. The great thing about khao kai jeow is that it is a crowd pleaser. I mean who can resist omelette?
These are fried bread, kind of similar to donut but are savory instead of sweet. They are so fragrant when the vendors cook them and are best eaten freshly made. Most locals would buy a small bag of these and eat them on the go. They are yummy with coffee and are typically dipped in some kind of sweet custard. The smell of fried dough plus the contrast of the crispy golden crust with the soft fluffy inside is just a combination too beautiful for words.
Pork filled steamed buns or salapao are also very common to eat for breakfast in Thailand. These are smaller than Chinese steamed buns and can have a savory meat filling or a sweet one made from beans. Because they are easy to eat and are often available on the streets, they are perfect candidates for a starter meal.
They say that protein for breakfast will keep your full for hours and help you do physically demanding tasks such as weight lifting, jogging, or hiking. What better way to get your dose of protein than with eggs? However the popular way to have eggs in the morning is not sunny side up or scrambled. In Koh Samui, you may come across the local version of soft boiled eggs called kai luak. Soft boiled egg are eaten here using a shot glass. You crack open the egg, pour the contents into a shot glass and gulp. You can season it if you want. It’s up to you. This is great if you are in a hurry and are still not in the mood for a full on elaborate meal that involves a great deal of chewing and cutlery.
Mama Instant Noodles
Dehydrated instant noodles have truly taken the world by storm and if you happen to be in Asia, you will see a lot of these when you visit the groceries. The same is true in Koh Samui. People are usually in a hurry during mornings and something that they can prepare quickly with minimal effort and little to no clean-up is always a good bet. Enter Mama. This is without a doubt the biggest brand of noodles on the island. There are so many variants to choose from and yes, Tom Yum is always a top choice. If you are too lazy to boil water, just head out and visit the nearest convenience store. They have the paper bowl/cup version that you just fill with hot water. Breakfast literally in minutes.
Cut Up Fresh Fruits
Don’t eat meat or are avoiding heavy complex carbs in the morning? Have fresh fruit instead. Hey, you are in Koh Samui—a tropical destination with so many luscious fruits all year long. Here you can easily find pineapple, watermelon, durian, ripe mangoes, papaya, dragon fruit, cantaloupe, bananas, and sour sop. They are commonly sold at the streets too. Fresh fruits require no cooking and are rich in vitamins, giving you energy and a boost better than coffee. Vendors do the peeling and slicing for you. The good news is, fresh fruit is cheap and will please vegans too.
Khao Neow Sang Kaya
If you are a fan of sticky rice, you will love khao neow sang kaya. This is sweet sticky rice that is topped with sweet custard and a generous drizzling of coconut milk. It is served in banana leaf. It is a surprisingly good breakfast choice especially for those who love the taste of coconut and the texture of sticky rice. This will fill you up in an instant and will keep you satisfied until your next meal.
Like what was mentioned on the first part of the article, in Koh Samui, there is no clear category as breakfast food. Anything goes. In fact, people eat anything from curry to dimsums to soup—whatever is available. If someone fancies grilled chicken first thing in the morning, the locals would be the last one to judge since they too love grilled meat for breakfast especially grilled chicken or gai yang.