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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 10, 2020
Headline for Traditional Chinese Flavours in Chiang Mai - Uncover Chinese influence in Thai cooking
Joanna James Joanna James
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Traditional Chinese Flavours in Chiang Mai - Uncover Chinese influence in Thai cooking

China has a big influence on Thai culture and food is no exception. In Chiang Mai, you will be surprised to find a large number of dishes and cuisine that directly borrows from Chinese food culture.


Chinese inspiration for Thai cooking

A great many Thai dishes were introduced to Thailand through the Hokkien people and the Teochew people in the 15th Century and 18th Century respectively. Chinese immigrants introduced a variety of cooking styles such as stir-fries and deep frying and use of the wok. The use of broths to enhance flavours came with the Chinese as well. Several noodle types and certain condiments such as Taochiao, which is a fermented bean paste, soy sauce, and tofu, came into Thai cooking scene thanks to the Chinese. Traditions such as eating with chopsticks is foreign to Thai people, it was a direct Chinese export. Nowadays it is common for Thai's to opt for chopsticks when eating noodle-based dishes and soups. Many long-running eateries such as Service 1921 offer a myriad of dishes catering all types of Thai food all across the Riverside restaurant Chiang Mai.


Thai street food

All over Chiang Mai and Thailand, the street food scene is perhaps one of the tastiest and liveliest in the world. However, this explosion of Thai flavours first originated in the Chinatowns of Thailand known as 'Yaowarat.' Thus the majority of Thai street food was heavily influenced by the early Chinese immigrants. Over time Thailand has developed its unique cuisine, which is perhaps one of the best in the world. Thai food is enriched with influences taken from other South-East Asian countries as well.


Chinese inspired dishes

Most Thai cooking in central and south of Thailand has been traced back to Chinese origins. Parts of northern Thailand such as Chiang Mai have been inspired by Chinese flavours in their cooking. Some of the most well-known Thai noodle dishes have their origins traced to Chinese cuisine. Dishes such as Ba Mii, a clear egg noodle soup, Guay Chap, Khanom Jiin, a fermented rice noodle served with various curry sauces. Guay Tiaw, another noodle soup made with many variations are popular dishes in Chiang Mai and Thailand. Jok, rice porridge and type of congee is a popular breakfast staple in Thailand inspired by Chinese migrants. Salapao is a steamed bun usually filled with a mixture of vegetables and meat and Khao Kha Moo a fragrant rice dish quite popular in Chiang Mai.


Pad Thai

Even the ever so popular Pad Thai at the beginning has some Chinese elements embedded into its preparation. The iconic dish incorporated wheat noodles, which was popular among Chinese communities. Back then the Thai Prime Minister wanted to promote Thai nationalism and started to encourage the use of rice noodles instead. A new noodle named Sen Chan came to be. This is the noodle used to this day and the type of rice noodle in a traditional Pad Thai.