Most of the busy morning markets all around the north seem to have at least one stall selling deep fried twists of dough that would best be described as fritters, which in Thai are called patong-go. The dish and its name are apparently both of Chinese origin. Fritters are a popular snack throughout Thailand, although the specific style and accompaniments vary between the different regions. In Bangkok, these bits of deep fried dough are mostly eaten in the morning with a soya milk dip, while in the south they prefer a sweet syrup.
These little wrapped meatballs are quite a popular afternoon snack. They would make quite a good appetizer, or finger food for a party. Stalls will specialize in this and nothing else. As with noodle stalls that get a reputation, people will drive a long distance just to get to a good dumpling stall.
Freshly steamed dumplings still in the steamer
Shredded carrot most closely matches the texture, if not the colour or flavour, of green papaya. This recipe is similar to one that has proved successful at the restaurant chain in Thailand where I used to work, and also utilizes ingredients easily found outside of the country. You can of course substitute fresh string beans for the long beans.
Grilled meats with lemongrass are rather less common on the street than a similar looking dish using only garlic and pepper. Still, the lemongrass adds a special flavour that makes this recipe a bit more interesting than what you will normally find. This recipe works well with pork or chicken, and could also be used with beef.
I often think chicken and galangal soup (tom ka gai) is perhaps the best example of Thai cuisine. Unlike its more famous cousin tom yum the taste of this thick soup is more varied and sublime. The undercurrents given by the galangal, lime juice, lemongrass and pepper make this dish quite remarkable.
Chicken and Galangal Soup
Some people turn up their noses at sweet and sour stir fry because "it's not Thai". The dish is perceived as Chinese, although if you're going to quibble, Thai food is largely a mix of Chinese and Mon influences so a lot of dishes are Chinese to some extent. Be that as it may, the dish is popular at the curry stall. Its mildness forms a good counterbalance to spicier dishes.
This relatively simple recipe nonetheless provides an interesting "wow" factor. It's a quite simple idea, and I only recently found out that the great American traditional pumpkin pie is thought to have originated when the early colonists cut the top off a pumpkin (provided, like corn, by the Native Americans) and filled it with milk, spices and honey, then baked it in the coals of a dying fire.
This is a very common Thai stir-fry that makes a frequent appearance, with variations, at many food stalls. Thai cooks will almost always use what translates to "three story pork" for the meat. This is pork meat with a bit of fat and inner skin layer still attached. Since this probably won't appeal to western palates, I've suggested pork loin as an alternative.
This "omelet" made with minced pork is a common accompaniment to many Thai meals. In Thai, it's called Kai Geeo Moo Sup. Its mild taste helps to balance a meal where many of the other dishes are quite spicy. You may wish to use a skillet instead of a wok to cook this recipe, since that will make it easier to make the omelette into a thin flat disc. It should be about the size of a dinner plate and about the thickness of your finger. The dish is invariably served with a spicy ketchup called Sri Racha sauce.
I put 'Korean' in quotes because I don't know how authentic this recipe is. Everything Korean is extremely popular in Thailand, as it has been for a few years, so I suspect a lot of things get 'labeled' Korean even if they're adaptations of Thai foods or whatever. Curiously, I got this recipe from a Thai cookbook that came with my new microwave oven (it was a Korean brand, I should note). It had the beef cooked by microwave, which didn't seem to be the best idea, so I just fried it up in a skillet. If you have a grill, it's probably even better.