20 Thai seafood dishes and where to find them

Thai seafood is some of the best in South East Asia. Here's how they cook and where to try it.

2 September 2021 / Luke C. / Bangkok

It's hardly surprising that Thai seafood is so good - there's 2,815 kilometres of coastline from which to fish from. As you can imagine, Thai seafood is fresher, more abundant and diverse from the capital heading south. The best Thai seafood doesn't typically make it's way up to the north, though there are some excellent river fish dishes around Chiang Mai and the landlocked region.

With such a dizzying number of seafood dishes in Thailand, where do you start? Fear not. We have you covered with this comprehensive list of the 20 best Thai seafood dishes and, more importantly, where to eat them.

Hoi Thod - Crispy Oyster Omelettes

539 Phlap Phla Chai Road

Bangkok

Nai Mong Hoi Tod

Thai seafood omelette at Nai Mong Hoi Thod

If you're going to try just one Thai seafood dish, make it hoi thod, a Bangkok favourite that hovers somewhere between pancake and omelette. Take a flour and egg batter, fry in an unspeakable amount of bubbling oil until greasy, crispy and sticky, then top with lightly poached oysters. This Thai seafood dish has single handedly managed to make this prized ocean delicacy into drunken street food. And it's excellent. Where in the world can one buy a handful of plump fresh oysters for just a couple of bucks? Be sure to use the slightly sweet chilli table sauce.

Try this Thai seafood at: Nai Mong Hoi Thod, 539 Phlap Phla Chai Road, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100

Pu Ob Woonsen - Baked Crab and Glass Noodles

2 Charoen Rat Road

Bangkok

goong ob woon sen

Baked crab and glass noodles at Somsak Pu Ob

Few foreigners have heard of pu ob woonsen, but this Thai seafood dish is longstanding favourite. It's a deceivingly simple dish with Chinese origins. Thin slices of pork belly are layered in a metal pan and topped with glass noodles, soy sauce, white pepper and coriander root along with meaty crab claws. It's then baked with a lid over a hot grill. Eat with a zingy Thai seafood sauce made from garlic, chillies and lime juice. The perfect combination. Alternatively, try the similar goong ob woonsen which swaps out crab from river prawns.

Try this Thai seafood at: Somsak Pu Ob, 2 Charoen Rat Road, Khlong Ton Sai, Khlong San, Bangkok 10600

Tom Yum Goong - Thai Seafood Prawn Soup

Soi Kraisi

Bangkok

yam pla goong

A bowl of Thai seafood tom yum goong soup

It's funny that one of the most iconic Thai seafood dishes - tom yum goong (hot and spicy soup with prawns) - is rarely exceptional. But if you know where to look there are some fine renditions of the Thai seafood soup like this one from Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu. The three main ingredients - kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal ginger - are used in abundance. It's spiked with enough chilli for heat without being overpowering and there's coconut shoots for crunch. But the real difference is the large river prawns whose head fat melts to create a creamy broth.

Try this Thai seafood at: Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu, Soi Kraisi, Talat Yot, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200


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Hor Mok Pla - Steamed Fish Curry

Hor Mok Mae Boonma

Bangkok

Thai seafood - Hor Mok

Hor mok steaming on the streets of Bangkok

Everyone's familiar with Thailand's curries, but its cousin hor mok is less well known. Red curry paste made from the usual suspects - kaffir lime leaves, galangal ginger, coriander root, chillies - is mixed with Thai seafood (or river fish like Mekong catfish), mild coconut milk and fragrant basil. It's poured into traditional ramekins made from banana leaves, topped with a dash of coconut cream and steamed to produce an almost custard-like curry. They sell quickly, so hor mok street stalls are continually steaming all day.

Try this Thai seafood at: Hor Mok Mae Boonma, 802/3 Thanon Nakhon Chaisi Road, Thanon Nakhon Chai Si, Dusit, Bangkok 10300

Hoy Kraeng - Blood Clams

11 Lat Ya Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - blood clams

A plate of steamed blood clams and Thai seafood sauce

This infamous bivalve is banned in many countries, mostly because of the toxic shellfish which come from the polluted waters in China. But this Thai seafood favourite is perfectly safe in Bangkok and the southern islands. These steamed clams - whose interesting name comes from the red haemoglobin which leaks out after they are prized open - are delicate and delicious and well worth seeking out. They are almost always served with Thai seafood sauce, a fiery garlic, lime juice and chilli-based sauce. There are several places to try this Thai seafood in Bangkok, but Hoy Kraeng Luak Je Par is one of the best.

Try this Thai seafood at: Hoy Kraeng Luak Je Par, 11 Lat Ya Road, Somdet Chao Phraya, Khlong San, Bangkok 10600

Yen Ta Fo - Tofu and Seafood Soup

Sala Daeng 2 Alley

Bangkok

Thai seafood - yen ta fo

Fried tofu and fishballs in yen ta fo

While the cornerstone of yen ta fo noodle soup is tofu (fried and fermented with red rice to create the dish's signature neon pink colour), there is plenty of Thai seafood too. Bouncy, slightly chewy fishballs are a must, though there's often crispy squid and other fishy bits. Noodles, a handful of crispy garlic and broth complete this sweet and sour Thai seafood hit. It's not hard to find yen ta fo, but not all are made equal. Try Yen Ta Fo JC, a street stall in Bang Rak where midday queues form daily for the lunchtime rush.

Try this Thai seafood at: Yen Ta Fo JC, Sala Daeng 2 Alley, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500

Tod Mun Pla - Thai Fishcakes

Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - fishcakes

Deep fried Thai fishcakes in Bangkok

Thai fishcakes differ greatly from their Western counterparts. These crispy Thai seafood street morsels are typically made from tilapia or snapper mixed with punchy red curry paste, egg, fish sauce, coriander, green beans, lime juice and bound with rice flour. They are deep fried until golden (sometimes with crispy fried kaffir lime leaves) and served up with slices of fresh cucumber and sweet chilli sauce. Always a Thai seafood hit and found at markets across Bangkok.

Try this Thai seafood at: Chatuchak Market, Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900

Khao Tom Pla - Seafood Rice Soup

808/2 Thanon Chan

Bangkok

Thai seafood - seafood rice soup

A bowl of Thai seafood khao tom pla in Bangkok

This dish is a Thai seafood bonanza. It starts with a bowl of soft rice soup cooked with fish bone stock. Lightly poached seafood completes the dish. The Thai seafood differs between khao tom pla spots, but there's often grouper, seabass, pomfret, prawns, squid and plump oysters to pick from. The classic clear soup is traditional, but some offer spicy tom yum renditions with lemongrass, galangal ginger, kaffir lime leaves and chilli. Try the Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning Hia Wan Khao Tom Pla if you're unsure.

Try this Thai seafood at: Hia Wan Khao Tom Pla, 808/2 Thanon Chan, Thung Wat Don, Sathon, Bangkok 10120

Pad Sataw Goong - Prawns and Stink Beans

954/2 Thanon Nakhon Chaisi Road

Bangkok

This Thai seafood fish is a Southern classic. Large prawns are stir fried with stink beans, shrimp paste and Southern Thai curry paste. While the prawns are always good, the star of the show in this Thai seafood dish are the stink beans. Don't be put off by the name. While they do have a certain odour, the taste is nutty, bitter and delicious and pair perfectly with prawns and the strong flavours of the curry paste. They are packed with nutrients and extremely healthy. It's worth noting that stink beans are seasonal and can be tricky to find outside Southern Thailand, but worth keeping an eye out for.

Try this Thai seafood at: Gaeng Pa Sriyan, 954 2 Thanon Nakhon Chaisi Rd, Thanon Nakhon Chai Si, Dusit District, Bangkok 10300

Pla Neung Manao - Steamed Sea Bass

166, 1-5 Ratchadaphisek 10 Alley

Bangkok

Thai seafood - steamed seabass

Steamed sea bass with lime, garlic and coriander

Another Thai seafood dish that's often overlooked by foreigners is pla neung manao. While it can be cooked with several different types of fish, sea bass is common. The fish is gently steamed before being submerged in a zingy soup made from lime, garlic, coriander and enough chilli for heat. It's almost always served in a fish-shaped metal pan kept warm over hot charcoal. Good for sharing with a group.

Try this Thai seafood at: Krung Seafood Restaurant, 166, 1-5 Ratchadaphisek 10 Alley, Huai Khwang, Bangkok 10320

Pla Muek Yang - Grilled Squid

49-51 Phadung Dao Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - grilled squif

Grilled squid at T&K Seafood

This is Thai seafood at its most simple - fresh squid grilled over hot coals. While it's delicious all on its own, it's the sauces which brings the seafood alive. Thai seafood sauce is a punchy blend of chillies, garlic, fish sauce and lime juice. But there's also a slightly sweetened version with crushed peanuts. Best shared with more barbecued seafood - prawns, lobster, crab and more at T&K Seafood in Bangkok's Chinatown.

Try this Thai seafood at: T&K Seafood, 49-51 Phadung Dao Rd, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100

Hoy Lai Pad Nam Prik Pao - Stir Fried Clams

497-515 Phlap Phla Chai Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - stir fried clams

Clams stir fried with roasted chilli paste

This stir fry clam dish might be a mouthful to say in Thai - hoy lai pad nam prik pao - but it's worth learning by heart because you're going to want to seek this one out. Thai seafood dishes don't get better than small, sweet clams stir-fried with fragrant Thai basil and smoky roasted chilli paste. It's not as spicy as it sounds. There are many good places to taste this Thai seafood dish, but one of the best is cooked up in a small restaurant called Jet Tik just north of Chinatown.

Try this Thai seafood at: Jet Tik, 497-515 Phlap Phla Chai Road, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100

Choo Chee Pla Too - Mackerel Curry

375/4 Thanon Phran Nok

Bangkok

Thai seafood - choo chee pla too

Mackerel in Thai choo chee curry

Choo chee is a central Thai seafood curry. It differs from other curries - thicker and creamier and sweeter. The key ingredient to choo chee is kaffir lime leaves which are used in abundance. It's made with several different types of seafood (and occasionally with meat), but a favourite is mackerel. The firm flesh of mackerel holds up well against creamy curry. Often finished with a dash of thick coconut cream and more sliced kaffir lime leaves.

Try this Thai seafood at: Ruam Tai, 375/4 Thanon Phran Nok, Ban Chang Lo, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700

Kanom Jeeb - Prawn Dim Sum

Plaeng Nam Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - dim sum

Gentleman selling dim sum in Bangkok's Chinatown

Dim sum may not have originated in Thailand, but they have taken it as their own. Kanom jeeb, the classic prawn and pork steamed dumplings are the favourite. While you can get them all over Bangkok, the best Thai seafood dim sum are, unsurprisingly, found in Chinatown. Look out for the cart along Plaeng Nam Road where a gentleman has been steaming one type of prawn dim sum for decades. He is usually found at the Chinese temple entrance, but often wheels his cart along the street.

Try this Thai seafood at: Khanom jib Pae Sia, Plaeng Nam Rd, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100

Pla Pao - Salt Crusted Fish

Ratchadaphisek Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - pla pao

Grilled salted fish in Bangkok. Yen-Chi Chen

All over Bangkok there are street stalls grilling salt-crusted fish. Some lay the fish right on the grill, others use ingenious rotating spits. It's almost always made with either tilapia or the ugly but delicious snakehead fish. This freshwater Thai seafood is rolled in a layer of salt to keep the moisture in and stuffed with herbs and lemongrass stalks before being slow-cooked over hot charcoal. The result is flaky, moist flesh best eaten with kanom jeen rice noodles, lettuce and lime, garlic and chilli Thai seafood sauce. Head down to the Train Night Market Ratchada where their are several pla pao vendors.

Try this Thai seafood at: Khanom jib Pae Sia, Plaeng Nam Rd, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

Kuay Tiew Luk Chin Pla - Fishball Noodles

645 / 1095 Mittraphan Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - fishball noodles

Fishball noodles at Lim Lao Ngow

There's only one place you should be trying fishball noodles in Bangkok - the famed Lim Lao Ngow just south of Bangkok's Chinatown. For over 80 years and several generations, this pushcart has been making a fine version of kuay tiew luk chin pla with handmade fish balls and wontons. Their success has allowed them to open several shiny shopping mall branches of the brand, but its this humble street vendor that's won a Bib Gourmand from Michelin and draws in the hungry crowds every evening.

Try this Thai seafood at: Lim Lao Ngow, 645 / 1095 Mittraphan Road, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100

Gaeng Som - Sour Spicy Southern Curry

75/4 Thanon Phran Nok

Bangkok

Thai seafood - gaeng som

A bowl of spicy, sour gaeng som curry at Ruam Tai

This classic Southern Thai seafood curry isn't for everyone. The name gaeng som translates as 'sour curry', a perfect description. It's sour from tamarind paste (or sometimes lime juice) and, like most South Thai dishes, famously spicy. There's turmeric, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste and, of course, plenty of chillies. It can be cooked with almost any type of fish. Outside the South it's never quite the same, often overly sweetened. But there are some exceptions like Ruam Tai, a small restaurant in Bangkok that specialises in the food of the South.

Try this Thai seafood at: Ruam Tai, 375/4 Thanon Phran Nok, Ban Chang Lo, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700

Goong Chae Nam Pla - Thai Seafood Salad

Phibun Watthana 6 Alley

Bangkok

Thai seafood - prawns

Zingy raw prawn Thai seafood salad

If there's one Thai seafood dish that represents the country's favourite flavour profile - salty, spicy, sour and sweet - it's goong chae nam pla. Fresh raw prawns are 'cooked' in a fiery dressing of lime juice, raw garlic, fish sauce, mint and Thai red chillies. There's usually slices of gourd which add a pleasingly bitter note to the dish. It's a popular Thai seafood dish, so it isn't hard to find in Bangkok. Je Da Poomadong, a street stall in Yaowarat, assembles the dish with other seafood like crab and mantis shrimp, while the restaurant Soei does an unusual rendition with a touch of wasabi.

Try this Thai seafood at: Soei, Phibun Watthana 6 Alley, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400

Pla Tod Nam Pla - Fried Fish

999/9 Ratchadamri Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - fried fish

Deep fried sea bass in Bangkok. Vee Satayamas

Thai food is often about texture just as much as taste. Pla tod nam pla is a good example of this principal - fish, often sea bass, is butterflied, deep fried until much of the flesh is crispy and then smothered in a thin sauce made from fish sauce sweetened with palm sugar. It's just right all on its own, but usually served with a sour mango and shallot salad dressed in fish sauce, lime juice, chillies and palm sugar. Try Laem Charoen Seafood, a restaurant in Central World shopping mall which does a fine example along with plenty more Thai seafood dishes.

Try this Thai seafood at: Laem Charoen Seafood, 999/9 Ratchadamri Rd, Pathum Wan, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330

Pu Pad Pong Kari - Yellow Stir Fry Crab Curry

49-51 Phadung Dao Road

Bangkok

Thai seafood - yellow crab curry

Stir fried yellow crab curry. Alpha

We finish this list of Thai seafood dishes with pu pad pong kari, a crab stir fry curry that is, unusually, made from curry powder and spices instead of fresh ingredients. This Sino-Thai dish is not the prettiest, but don't let that put you off. The combination of yellow curry powder, egg, roasted chilli paste, Chinese celery and evaporated milk is the perfect combination to sweet crab meat. Try it at the big daddy of seafood joints in Bangkok - Chinatown's T&K Seafood.

Try this Thai seafood at: T&K Seafood, 49-51 Phadung Dao Rd, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but any of these dishes make for a good introduction to Thai seafood. Still confused? Why not join us on our small group street food tours in Bangkok or Phuket where you'll discover the history and tastes of Thai cuisine with the help of expert local foodie guides.

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