9 Thai Thanksgiving Replacements: Turkey in Thailand? Think Again

By Mark Wiens 10 Comments
Turkey Day?
Turkey Day? Turkey photo credit

American Thanksgiving is a time to remember what we are thankful for…and also to enjoy a giant feast.

Below is a list of the classic dishes that many households throughout North America eat during the holiday…but this year we’re setting aside the turkey and going for Thai food replacements.

Gravy - Nam Daeng
Gravy – Nam Daeng

1. Brown Gravy – Nam Daeng น้ำแดง

While a variety of different sauces accompany almost every Thai dish, Nam Daeng (red sauce) is about as close as it gets to a thick brown gravy. Nam Daeng is the sweet red sauce used over red barbecued pork on a plate of Khao Moo Daeng.


2. Cranberry Sauce – Gaew Mongkon แก้วมังกร

The extreme neon color of purple dragon fruit always amazes me. I know for sure it would go well with a dry piece of turkey!

Green Bean Casserole - Yam Tua Plu
Green Bean Casserole – Yam Tua Plu

3. Green Bean Casserole – Yam Tua Plu ยำถั่วพลู

Have you ever had winged bean salad? Apart from substituting winged beans for green beans, squid and sweet peanut sauce for the cream of mushroom soup, and deep fried onions for the cornflakes, Yam Tua Plu tastes almost the same!

Veggies and Dip - Nam Prik
Veggies and Dip – Nam Prik

4. Veggies and Dip – Nam Prik น้ำพริก

The Thai version of veggies and dip includes a variety of boiled vegetables served with a chili blended sauce. The particular version above is Nam Prik Goong Sot, but Nam Prik Makam or Nam Prik Kaphi would do just fine as well!

Thanksgiving in Thailand
Cornbread – Khanom Tarn

5. Cornbread – Khanom Tarn ขนมตาล

In reality Khanom Tarn is a little steamed piece of bread made from the fruit of a “toddy palm,” but in my opinion it tastes pretty close to a good ol’ crumbly Thanksgiving cornbread!

Stuffing - Yam Pla Duk Foo
Stuffing – Yam Pla Duk Foo

6. Stuffing – Yam Pla Duk Foo ยำปลาดุกฟู

Yam Pla Duk Foo is a deep fried plate of catfish fluffy essence. It has little taste until a scoop of sour mango spicy sauce is added to the top of every bite – then it’s absolutely mouth-watering! I’d let Yam Pla Duk Foo pass as my stuffing any day of the week.

Mashed Potatoes - Khao Pad Goong / Boo
Mashed Potatoes – Khao Pad Goong / Boo

7. Mashed Potatoes – Khao Pad Goong / Boo ข้าวผัดกุ้ง / ปู

In Thailand we are far far away from mashed potatoes. If a bowl of plain white rice is just a baked potato, Khao Pad Goong (fried rice with shrimp) or Khao Pad Boo (fried rice with crab) are the garlic chives and cheese mashed potatoes.


8. Roast Turkey – Pla Chon Pao ปลาช่อนเผา

Ok, a whole roasted turkey and a grilled fish aren’t too similar, but they are both stuffed and roasted. Pla Chon Pao is a snakehead fish stuffed with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, rolled in salt and roasted on the grill – and I’d be happy to devour 1 or 2 by myself for Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Pie - Fuktong Sangkaya
Pumpkin Pie – Fuktong Sangkaya

9. Pumpkin Pie – Fuktong Sangkaya ฝักทองสังขยา

Fuktong Sangkaya is a pumpkin that is hollowed out and filled with a rich eggy custard. A sliced wedge from the pumpkin and you’ve got a Thai dessert that could easily pass as pumpkin pie!

Turkey photo credit

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  • inka

    9 years ago

    Happy Thanksgiving. Not being American, traditional food doesn’t mean much to me but your Thai food suggestions by themselves are mouthwatering. Funnily enough I was thinking about a post with the title: ‘Turkey in Turkey’.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks Inka! Ha, that’s a great title for an article!

  • Jan Ross

    9 years ago

    As usual, your food photos are gorgeous and mouth-watering! And what a clever idea to compare Thai foods to our traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Very original!

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Happy Thanksgiving Jan and thanks so much for checking out this article!

  • Laurel

    9 years ago

    Very creative, I never even thought of trying to replicate Thanksgiving when I lived in Thailand, but I like your substitutes.

  • Ian

    9 years ago

    Is there a vegetarian version ?

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hmmm, not yet, but I’m sure we could come up with one – made with Thai food!

  • Anita

    9 years ago

    I like the comparisons to an American Thanksgiving. As I also recently relocated from the US, I will think about foods I eat today that will resemble some foods from back home.