Spicy food divides people. Some can’t stand it and run for the hills at the mere mention of chili. Others just can’t get enough. If you like your food with some heat, you will enjoy it in Koh Samui since most of the local food has chili as an ingredient. Actually spicy food is something the locals like because it is meant for the tropical weather. Chili can make one sweat and drink lots of water, which eventually refresh and cool the body. Here are some dishes you must definitely try in Koh Samui if you love things spicy.
Tom Yam Goong
Certainly one of the popular Thai dishes you can try in Koh Samui is tom yam goong. This is known for its layers of flavors of which the most dominant are hot and sour. It is an interesting kind of soup because it is hot yet refreshing. Commonly made with shrimp as base, some chefs also sometimes use pork as alternative for this hearty dish. The secret here is the broth. This is comprised of the stock and other common aromatics used in Thai cooking like Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and of course red chili peppers. There is something about tom yam goong that is quite addictive. Not everyone likes it at first try but the more you taste it, the more you will get hooked. The best tom yam goong is made from scratch, then you can really say that it is a labor of love. However, it can also be replicated using store bought tom yam goong paste. This is stir fried in oil and added to fresh ingredients to create texture and more flavor. There are some variations to the recipe. Some prefer to add dairy in the form of cream or evaporated milk while others like to add some thickness with the use of coconut milk.
Khao Na Pet (roasted duck served over rice)
This is a filling dish in which the star is the succulent roasted duck. Khao na pet is a good carbs-protein combo and is best served with some soy sauce with chopped fresh chillies. The great thing about this dish is that it is versatile. You can have it as hot as you’d like by adding a lot of fresh red chillies on your soy sauce, which is usually served separately. If you have kids with you or someone doesn’t like too much heat, you can omit the chillies or give them a separate sauce so everyone can enjoy. The secret is in the duck. If it is marinated well and is cooked just right, it is absolutely yummy.
Kaeng Phet (spicy red curry)
Thai red curry is a classic and can be made using different kinds of protein. Some use beef, others use pork or chicken, while vegans opt for tofu as base. Fish and seafood are also popular choices. Traditional red curry paste is done by pounding all the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle. The bright red color is derived from red chili peppers. If you don’t have the time to do this the old fashioned way, just buy ready made pastes from the supermarket. They taste more or less like the paste made from scratch. Some of the ingredients used in making red curry paste are garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and root, kaffir lime, shrimp paste, lemongrass, salt, peppercorns, and of course, red chili. The dish has a semi-thick consistency and is made up of the curry broth/sauce, the protein, fresh herbs and vegetables such as eggplant and bamboo shoots. It is usually eaten with rice and is served for lunch or dinner although there are those who also eat this for their morning meal.
Mu Nam Tok
This is described as a spicy salad that features fine strips of pork. Sometimes, pig’s blood is added as an ingredient. The dressing is comprised of dried chili, roasted rice, fish sauce, lime juice, mint, and shallots. Some also add spring onions for color and flavor. This meat based dish is best eaten with sticky rice.
Som Tam (spicy papaya salad)
A very light yet tasty local dish you might want to try if you can’t get enough of chili is som tam or Thai spicy papaya salad. This has an amazing complexity of flavors and has this appealing crunch factor. It is a little tangy, a little sweet, and oozing with umami due to the presence of fish sauce.
Kaeng Khiao Wan (Thai green curry)
In Koh Samui you will be able to get to know lots of amazing curry dishes and if you like your food with a strong kick, Thai green curry should be one of the local food you should try first. Chicken is the most popular meat of choice for green curry although some locals use fish, shrimp, crab or tofu. This uses green chili peppers and is made rich by the use of coconut milk. Kaeng Khiao Wan literally means sweet curry although this does not refer to the taste of the curry but to its color. In fact,green curry has a more pungent taste than red curry and is actually more of an acquired taste. If you are not used to Thai flavors like galangal and Kaffir, this may taste overwhelming. However once you appreciate its complexity, you will realize that there is no substitute for it. Thai green curry is usually served with rice or rice noodles although it is not unusual for it to come with roti on the side. Like most curries, green curry is traditionally made by manually pounding garlic, shallots, green chillies, Kaffir lime peel,galangal, shrimp paste, coriander, lemongrass and pepper corns. Long string beans,eggplant, and fresh herbs are also added for texture. Of course, don’t forget to add enough coconut milk to give body to the dish.