Thailand is famously known for its cuisine and with these best Thai seafood dishes, we’d intend to prove that visit Thailand is more than just eating noodles, rice and curries and inspire you to try some of this deliciousness during your next trip to the land of the smiles. Thailand has twenty-five rivers and the majority of the country has access to either the Gulf of Thailand or the Andaman Sea, meaning that there is an abundance of fresh seafood all over the country. Even in the outer parts of the province of Kanchanaburi, which is remote and covered in jungle, people still have access to amazingly fresh seafood thanks to its neighbour country Myanmar. When visiting Thailand, it would be ashamed if you’d only stick to the most common dishes such as pad Thai and fried rice. Instead, experience the Thai kitchen to the fullest by trying at least one of these amazing Thai seafood dishes.
Note: in general, the majority of Thai restaurants have seafood versions of the common Thai dishes available on their menus such as Pad Thai with Shrimp, Pad Kra Pao Seafood and Khao Soi with Shrimp. For the purpose of this article, we mainly focus on typical Thai seafood dishes instead of seafood versions of classic Thai dishes.
The best Thai seafood dishes are:
1. Fried Sea Bass with Oyster Sauce/Thai Herbs/Fish Sauce
In our opinion, Fried Sea Bass (Pla Ka Pong Tod) with either oyster sauce, fish sauce or covered in Thai herbs is the most accessible yet best Thai seafood dish Thailand has to offer. The sea bass is either filleted or sliced in half, then deep-fried and served with either oyster sauce, fish sauce or covered in Thai herbs. We prefer the filleted version as the filleted chunks of sea bass are extra crispy and don’t have any fishbone. This is a non-spicy dish that the majority of tourists will absolutely love. Pla Ka Pong Tod can be found in every seafood restaurant in Thailand.
Fried Sea Bass with Fish Sauce
2. Salt-Crusted Fish - Pla Pao
Where the fried sea bass was an accessible Thai seafood dish, is this Salt Crusted Fish a bit more of a new culinary experience for tourists. Pla Pao is usually made with either a red tilapia or a snakehead fish. The red tilapia is by far the tastiest and you can easily recognize this fish by its shape: the tilapia is round, the snakehead fish is thin and long. The fish is stuffed with herbs, such as lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves before it gets coated with a thick layer of salt before it gets grilled. The fish is beautifully soft and moist because of this method. Pla Pao is served with rice noodles, herbs and leaves of cabbage which you wrap up in a package together. You dip it in Thai seafood sauce, which is pretty spicy for foreigners. The result is an amazing flavour explosion in your mouth. Pla Pao can be found as street food and is often served in seafood restaurants in Thailand.
Salt-Crusted Fish (this round-shaped fish is a tilapia fish)
3. Grilled Prawns - Goong Pao
When thinking of Thai seafood dishes, you don’t immediately think of simple grilled prawns. However, Goong Pao (grilled prawns) can be really exciting, especially when you travel to Ayutthaya. Here, you will find prawn farms that farm enormous jumbo prawns. These giant prawns are a real delicacy in Ayutthaya, although you can find them outside Ayutthaya as well. The prawns are sliced in half and grilled over charcoal. The best part of these grilled prawns is the brains as they are full with umami flavour. Like many other Thai seafood dishes, the prawns are served with that typical seafood sauce that is a bit spicy. Goong Pao is often served in seafood restaurants in Thailand, however, Ayutthaya is famous for these prawns. Check out our article about the best restaurants in Ayutthaya to find out which restaurants serve the best Goong Pao.
Grilled Prawns (these are giant river prawns from Ayutthaya)
4. Steamed Snapper with Lime and Garlic - Pla Kapong Neung Manao
Pla Kapong Neung Manao is another amazing Thai seafood dish that you should try when you’re in Thailand. The snapper is carved first and then bathing in a lime-based soup full of herbs, such as garlic, chilli, coriander and celery. Because the fish is steamed, the fish meat is beautifully tender and easy to scoop out of the plate without any fish skin. The soup will get more flavour over time as this seafood dish is served while it’s still heated. If you don’t like spiciness, you immediately scoop the chillies out of the soup when the snapper is served. Again, this Thai seafood dish is served with seafood sauce. You can find Pla Kapong Neung Manao in every seafood restaurant in Thailand. There are other variations available as well, such as steamed squid. Keep in mind that the squid is often served with squid eggs, which most foreigners don’t like. Keep it safe and stick it to steamed snapper.
Steamed Snapper with Lime and Garlic
5. Stir-Fried Yellow Crab Curry - Phoo Pad Phong Karee
One of the more exciting curries is Phoo Pad Phong Karee, which is stir-fried yellow crab curry. This is a non-spicy Thai seafood dish that is rich in flavour, quite heavy beach of the added egg and is served with crushed crab. If you have the option to order this curry with only crab meat, I would recommend it as scooping out crab meat from the crab is often a difficult and messy task. Phoo Pad Phong Karee is often the most expensive dish you can find on the menu. Prices are usually given in weight, which might cause confusion when receiving the bill. Expect to pay around 800 THB for this delicious curry in normal Thai seafood restaurants. You can find this stir-fried yellow crab curry in almost every seafood restaurant in Thailand.
Stir-Fried Yellow Crab Curry
6. Roasted Prawns with Glass Noodle - Goong Ob Woon Sen
Simply put it this way, if you are craving for noodles, order Goong Ob Woon Sen. These glass noodles are served in a hot clay pot and topped with large, juicy prawns. On the bottom of the clay pot is a marinade made of garlic, pepper and soy sauces that you need to stir and mix up before eating. The marinade makes the glass noodles are a real hearty treat. Goong Ob Woon Sen is a bit difficult to find but if you are visiting Bangkok, you must visit Somsak Pu Ob as this legendary restaurant serves the best glass noodles in town. More details can be found in our complete review of Somsak Pu Ob.
Roasted Prawns with Glass Noodle
7. Oyster Omelette - Hoy Tod
Hoy Tod is a greasy and crispy, yet really tasty omelette made with oysters or mussels and is a dish that Thai usually don't eat every day. There are two versions of omelettes, namely a crispy version and a spongy version. The difference between them is the batter that's being used and most likely you will find the crispy version the most delicious one. Hoy Tod has flavour-wise some similarities with Pad Thai, but greasier and with oysters (or mussels). It's not a typical Thai seafood dish that you easily find in seafood restaurants, but more at local Thai restaurants. Check out our article about the best hoy tod in Bangkok if you are interested in trying this delicious treat when visiting Bangkok.
Extra tip: Although completely different in taste and texture than Hoy Tod, we also recommend you to have a look at the Crab Omelette made by Jay Fai, Bangkok’s most famous local restaurant. Jay Fai is awarded a Michelin Star and even got her own episode on the Netflix series called Street Food. More information about this legendary restaurant can be found on the TopTravelFoods review page of Jay Fai.
8. Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum Goong is the most famous soup of the Thai cuisine and as it usually is served with prawns, it deserves a spot in this best Thai seafood list. Tom Yum soup is a spicy and sour soup either with a dash of milk (tom yum nam khon) or without a dash of milk (tom yum nam sai) and due to it's size, an amazing share-with-friends dish. The aromatic soup is packed with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce and chillies. As said, the most common version of tom yum is tom yum goong, which is served with prawns, but there are other versions available too such as tom yum with sea bass. Basically, you can find tom yum in every Thai restaurant although the quality of the soup, as well as the size of the prawns, vary enormously. Check out our article about the best tom yum soups in Bangkok if you are planning to taste this delicious treat when you are visiting Bangkok.
Tom Yum Goong
9. Yum Seafood - Yum Talay
Thai salads are completely different than Western salads that are refreshing. Thai salads are often sour and always spicy and the most common Thai salad is called Yum. Yum Seafood, or Yum Talay, is an incredible side dish that is filled with a variety of small kinds of seafood such as squid rings, mussels, shrimps and sometimes slices of white fish. It’s made with slices of tomato and celery and is often served lukewarm. The majority of all Thai restaurants serve Yum Seafood.
10. Mackerel with Red Curry - Choo Chee Pa
Mackerel with Red Curry is my personal favourite version of Thai red curry. Choo Chee is a special curry paste for seafood and when you serve it with fried mackerel, that has a distinctive, savoury flavour, you get a very interesting Thai seafood dish. Mackerel with Red Curry is more difficult to find that other seafood dishes, unfortunately. If you don’t like mackerel, there are other versions to find as well, such as red curry with salmon. If you are planning to visit Pattaya, The Sky Gallery serves delicious Mackerel with Red Curry and Mai Thai Cuisine Pattaya serves delicious Salmon with Red Curry.
Mackerel with Red Curry
11. Squid Fried in Salty Egg Curry Sauce - Pla Meuk Phad Kai Kem
Sticking with good food in Pattaya, Pla Meuk Phad Kai Kem - which is fried squid covered in a sweet and savoury curry sauce and salty egg - is a Thai seafood dish that you can find at every seafood restaurant in Pattaya. This non-spicy curry is served with tender squid and goes well as a side dish. We believe that the Squid Fried in Salty Egg Curry Sauce at Suttangrak Pattaya is the most delicious version in town. This seafood dish is not as common as other seafood dishes listed in this article.
Fried Squid in Salty Egg Curry Sauce
12. Fried Clams with Chili Paste - Hoy Lai Pad Nam Prik Pao
Hoy Lai Pad Nam Prik Pao is a Thai seafood dish made with clams that are completely covered in a sweet chilli paste with Thai basil. In general, the chilli paste is not that spicy. You can easily scoop out the meat inside the clams with a fork. As the clams are quite tiny, this seafood dish is not that filling, but sure is an amazing side dish due to the flavour of the chilli paste. In every seafood restaurant, you will find these clams.
Fried Clams with Chili Paste
13. Blood Cockles - Hoy Kraeng
Another interesting Thai seafood dish is Hoy Kraeng, which are boiled blood cockles. These special types of clams are hugely popular in Asia and yes they do taste like blood. The most important part is the freshness of the cockles. Once they are shortly boiled, the cockles are served with the typical seafood sauce you always get at seafood restaurants. Dip it in the sauce and experience a flavour combination of saltiness, spiciness, sourness but also a bit of an iron flavour to it as well. This is obviously a dish for the adventure-type of traveller. One of the most famous restaurants to eat these cockles is Hoy Kraeng Pa Jeen (The Cockle Bar) in Chinatown Bangkok.
14. Khao Tom Hoy Nangrom
Most-likely not the favourite Thai seafood dish for the majority of the tourists, but if you want to try some exceptional seafood dish, order Khao Tom Hoy Nangrom. Khao Tom is a well-flavoured, garlicky rice soup that is served with soy sauce. One of the most common ingredients to add to the rice soup are slices of white fish, however, there is also a version available with fresh oysters, named Khao Tom Hoy Nangrom. Khao Tom is not difficult to find in Thailand, however, Khao Tom with Oysters is quite challenging to find. Siang Ki Khao Tom Pla in Chinatown Bangkok serves the best in Thailand’s capital, though.
Khao Tom Hoy Nangrom
There you have it, the best Thai seafood dishes you must try when you’re visiting Thailand. You can find all these dishes and many other local delicacies in our food app called TopTravelFoods. TopTravelFoods recommends the best food in Thailand, instead of recommending good restaurants. This is useful for those who have no knowledge of the local cuisine and want to explore local food to the fullest. The app is available for both iOS and Android and is completely free.