1. Larb Dib
While relatively tame larb recipes like larb moo (pork) and larb gai (chicken) are universally loved in Thailand, one type of larb is a decided niche food: Larb Dib, which is made of ground raw, beef, often moving around in its own blood.
Larb dib is not only one of the strangest foods in Thailand but can be potentially deadly. That's because even as food sanitation standards in the Kingdom have risen dramatically in recent years, beef is particularly prone to parasites, bacteria and other sometimes-lethal pathogens, which means that larb dib diners are completely at the mercy of whatever happens to be inside the raw beef they slurp up.
2. Som Tam Pla Ra
Thais and foreigners alike tend to love som tam papaya salad, at least the original version, which doesn't contain any particularly weird ingredients. Opinion diverges in lockstep with the additional ingredients you add to the salad, coming to a head with som tam pla ra: Thai papaya salad with fermented fish or crab.
Although the som tam pla ra faithful insist the unpleasant smell the fermented seafood exudes doesn't affect its taste, it's important to consider that the dish has different varieties of stinkiness, depending on how it is prepared. If the person who makes it ferments fresh fish, it's som tam pla ra sot, which simply ends up being a bit sour.
3. Yum Khai Maeng Daa
Although horseshoe crabs are a great deal stranger than ordinary crabs, they are eaten in certain parts of the world, including Thailand. One particular Thai preparation of horseshoe crab, Yum Khai Maeng Daa is especially weird.
That's because the body of the horseshoe crab is simply used as a dish this salad, the base of which is actually roe, or eggs. Adding another layer of weirdness to this is the fact that the eggs served inside the horseshoe crab's body is sometimes not even its own, but rather those of the mantis shrimp, an equally weird animal.
4. Mae Lang Thood
It wouldn't be a post about strange foods in Thailand without including "bugs." Actual bugs, not horseshoe crabs, which in some ways have more in common with insects that less-ancient crustaceans or the parasites moving around in larb dib.
While it's difficult to determine which of Thailand's beloved bug dishes is the weirdest, mae lang thood (deep-fried insects) seem like an obvious choice. That's because if you didn't look closely at them before you eat them, you might not realize they're bugs at all.
5. Shark Fin Soup
A speciality in some Thai-Chinese restaurants, shark fin soup is often considered a luxury. The soup has a long history. Although the fins themselves are pretty tasteless and bland, with the soup’s flavor coming from the broth, they are used to create a jelly-like texture. Over-fishing of sharks is leading to some species becoming endangered. Environmentalists strongly discourage the consumption of shark fin soup. Artificial versions are available if you’re curious.