Phi Phi on a Plate
These green and red curries taste so clean, fresh and aromatic they make second servings feel guilt-free.
After a swift departure from Phuket and a bumpy speed boat ride across the Andaman Sea, I arrived at Ko Phi Phi — a cluster of mountainous islands surrounded by water so turquoise it makes the stone itself pale in comparison.
Upon arrival, I made my way to the eastern end of Ton Sai beach for a mandatory afternoon cocktail at Sunflower Bar. Built from driftwood reclaimed after the 2004 tsunami, the bar is one of Phi Phi’s most relaxing settings and a great place in which to enjoy a Pina Colada or a game of pool while watching the sun set.
On a quest to satiate my hunger pains, I headed to the northern end of the island, where the beaches are lined with palm trees that look like they have been plucked from postcards and slung with swings and hammocks. This side of the island is home to Phi Phi’s best restaurants, and is consequently where I dined most nights.
Surrounded by ocean and covered with lush rainforest, there is no shortage of fantastic, fresh food on Phi Phi. Renowned local dish, Som Tam is testament to this, a fresh papaya salad laden with shrimp and peanuts and dressed with limes, chilli and fish sauce.
I started every meal with my favourite Thai dish, Tom Yum Goog, a tangy soup made from lemongrass and lime leafs and topped with giant king prawns. For lunch I frequently indulged in a wok-tossed thick noodles dish called Pad See Eiu, where pork and Chinese broccoli are doused with dark soy and heaped with garlic.
My dinners mainly consisted of must-try dishes like coconut milk-based Muslim curries, Gang Keow Wan and Panang Gai. These green and red curries taste so clean, fresh and aromatic they make second servings feel guilt-free. For lighter dinners I opted for plates like Plah Kah Pung Neung Manow or Larb — whole grilled fish caught that day topped with garlic, ginger and chilli; and a Thai salad made with minced meat and a generous heap of herbs.
Most chefs in Thailand are accustomed to catering for less-than-adventurous tourist palates, and as a result dishes generally come mild. I ordered everything “Thai Hot” to taste the full punch of the famous Thai chilli.
I also accompanied every meal with staple rice, egg and vegetables dish, known as Kao Phad and with drinks like Chang beer and freshly cut coconut. Coconuts can be found everywhere on the island, but for a real treat it’s hard to go past a ‘coconut blend’ — fresh coconut water and the fruit’s flesh blended with ice and served in the nut’s shell.
Read about more of Hannah’s food and travel adventures online at Tales of a Truffle Pig.