WATCH: Thai Dancing Shrimp – A Serving of Thailand’s Most Lively Dish!

By Mark Wiens 37 Comments
Thai Dancing Shrimp Salad
Thai Dancing Shrimp Salad

Watch the video now!

The Dancing Shrimp Stall - Bangkok, Thailand
The Dancing Shrimp Stall - Bangkok, Thailand

There’s nothing fresher than still alive!

Dancing Shrimp in Bangkok, Thailand
Dancing Shrimp in Bangkok, Thailand

The Thai name of the dish is Goong Ten (กุ้งเต้น), which translates to “dancing shrimp.”

The cute little translucent shrimp are the main event – and they’re still living.

Goong Ten (Dancing Shrimp) is a traditional Isaan food that originates from the region of Thailand along the Mekong River.

People in this region have an affair with things that are prepared raw; Beef, pork, shrimp, fish, and other protein meats that are cooked elsewhere in the world can be found in their naturally squirming or bloody form in Isaan.

Many of the regional dishes are mixed with fiery chilies, salty fish sauce, earthly herbs and generous squirts of sour lime juice. This exciting dressing is what coats the raw meats and gives them superior flavor.

Though Thai street food in Bangkok comes with overwhelming supply, dancing shrimp can be challenging to locate. The dish is not normally served at restaurants but rather must be purchased to-go and eaten along the side of the street or in a local Thai market.

In Bangkok, dancing shrimp are almost exclusively sold from traditional double basket carrying carts. One side is filled with the arrangement of spices and herbs while the other side shelters the precious shrimp, hammocked in a cloth so they remain alive and can’t escape.

Dancing Shrimp
Preparing Thai Dancing Shrimp Salad - Goong Ten

The Preparation of Dancing Shrimp

The vendor quickly took to action, putting a double scoop of the freshwater shrimp into a metal mixing bowl. Separated from the lump grave of the other shrimp, the ones in the metal bowl came to life and started dancing their hearts out.

To prevent the shrimp from escaping the dish preparation, the vendor had to cover the bowl with a plastic bag. I could still hear the sound of metal being tapped, the ricocheting of energetic shrimp jumping around in search of an escape route.

After the shrimp, the vendor threw in a couple dollops of chili flakes, a squirt of fish sauce, a splash of lime juice and finally a handful of herbs that included mint leaves, finely sliced lemongrass, saw leaf herb and some slivered shallots.

He took a metal spoon and instead of heavily mixing the ingredients together, he softly folded the shrimp together with the spices, marinating them alive!

The vendor opened a styrofoam package, placed a little piece of plastic at the bottom and swiftly transferred the intricate mixed dish without letting any shrimp out.

Dancing Shrimp
The Final Product - Goong Ten (กุ้งเต้น) Dancing Shrimp

Eating Dancing Shrimp (กุ้งเต้น)

After watching the vendor stir up his speciality with precision, my excitement began to race.

I couldn’t wait for my first bite!

I cautiously opened the container and peeked into the scene that looked like a mosh pit. At this point the shrimp were probably dancing due to the abundance of chilies coated on themselves.

My first bite was that of sheer pleasure, the kind of incredible flavor that paralyzes your body and puts you into a state of flavor overjoy. Each individual shrimp was a little burst of brine that merged with the other contrasting parts of the dressing and the herbs to create a remarkable taste.

Dancing shrimp are often served with sticky rice or can also be eaten wrapped in a bite sized betel leaf – which is how I enjoyed it.

To this very day, Goong Ten (กุ้งเต้น) remains one of my favorite Thai dishes around!



37 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Donovan Lim

    4 months ago

    Hey Mark,
    Could you advice where i can find Goong Ten in Bangkok.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 months ago

      Hey Donovan, it’s a little tricky to say because the vendors who sell it typically move around. But you should be able to find it at most morning local wet markets.

  • Jannik

    5 months ago

    Hey Mark,
    Can you recommend any place/area in Bangkok where one can find this dish? Or at least where the chances of discovering a vendor might be higher 😀

  • Xandz

    10 months ago

    Hi Mark Wiens,

    I really love all of your videos. I love the video where you went to Bogor, your video at Glodok and when you ate nasi padang. And this one i really appreciate if u could tell me where to find this. And is it polite to asking around there about this kind of food. I really want to try this. Thanks Mark

  • NLM

    6 years ago

    MarkL Yeah–I’d probably try these on your recommendation, but probably need a cold beer first (and after!).
    For a quick, delicious and cheap (but dead) meal, try my on-the-road ceviche–all you need is a knife and a bowl.
    http://www.50plusandontherun.com/2011/10/ok-i-like-ramen-as-much-as-next-girl.html

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      That looks awesome! I’m always willing to eat all forms of seafood and ceviche is one of my favorites!

  • Genesis Hill

    6 years ago

    Wow, that looks yummylicious and spycilicious! I also eat fresh shrimps but this one seems so good. I want to try that one, I wish I could go to Thailand. Thanks for sharing this informative and delicious post!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      No problem Genesis, hope you can make it to Thailand soon to try some dancing shrimp!

  • Marina K. Villatoro

    6 years ago

    I just got back from a trip where it was all about the seafood. We ate ceviche, which is almost raw shrimp, but nothing moving entered my mouth:)

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Mmm, I also love ceviche – sounds really good right now!

  • Mick

    6 years ago

    I must agree with you, it’s one of my fav thai food too… You can find many shops with aquariuma filled with these tiny shrimps at talat huay kwang..

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Mick, great to hear that you also like goong ten. Thanks for sharing that they are available at Talat Huay Kwang, I’ll try to check that out soon!

  • Traveling Ted

    6 years ago

    Wow, looks delicious. I definitely would be up to giving this a try. Anything tastes good with chilies, fresh lime, and fish sauce whether it is alive or not.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Haha, you got that fully right Ted – that combination of diverse flavors together can season anything!

  • Nomadic Samuel

    6 years ago

    I’ve had something similar to this in Korea – squirming octopus – moving around even when it was in my mouth!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yah, I’ve seen a video of that – it look awesome too! How did you like it?

  • Nancie

    6 years ago

    This looks amazing. I’ll definitely look for this dish the next time I’m in Thailand.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Great Nancie – I’d love to hear how you like it!

  • adventureswithben

    6 years ago

    I am speechless. You can still see them squirming!

  • wandering educators

    6 years ago

    i ate live anemone once, in japan. i am done with eating live things now – i just don’t like that instant death in my mouth feeling. bravo to you!!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Wow, that’s pretty cool too – I’d love to try some live anemone sometime!

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic

    6 years ago

    I can usually get behind all your food posts, but this one? Made me seriously shudder. Ewwwww…..

  • Jenjenk

    6 years ago

    I don’t normally get squeamish about food (I am Asian, after all….) but that seriously freaks me out. My cousin made me eat baby live shrimp and it literally does feel like the shrimp is dancing in your mouth!!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yup – it’s a pretty interesting feeling to have things jump around in your mouth as you’re eating them! Where did you eat those other baby live shrimp? Were they prepared in a similar dish?

  • inka

    6 years ago

    I have to confess that the only food I eat ‘alive’ are oysters. But, maybe, if I closed my eyes and didn’t think too much, I might give the dancing shrimps a try, seeing that I’m so fond of seafood.The worst I ever had to eat was a raw sheeps eye, so shrimps look a lot more apetizing by comparison.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Wow, raw sheep eye, that sounds pretty chewy and slimy. How was it? That’s pretty cool, I know you’ll try all kinds of weird food too and I know you’d like dancing shrimp!

  • Cathy Sweeney

    6 years ago

    I do love reading your posts about your exotic food experiences, but I probably would refrain from eating dancing shrimp myself. It sounds like I’m missing out on some “flavor overjoy”, but I’m happy looking at the great photos.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Cathy! Due to the fact the shrimp dance around in your mouth, does make this dish about bizarre – but it does really does produce that flavor overyjoy!

  • Barbara – The Dropout Diaries

    6 years ago

    Hmmm. As much as I love street food, I am quite squeamish. I don’t know if I could eat something that was still alive. Is it possible to order a completely dead non-dancing version of this dish?

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Barbara,
      After a few minutes the shrimp tend to all pass-away, so maybe if you wait a few minutes you’ll get the non-moving version!

  • The Travel Chica

    6 years ago

    I am up for trying new foods while traveling, but I think I would have to draw the line at eating something still moving. I’ll just watch the videos of other people doing it 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Watching videos also works! Thanks for checking this out Stephanie!

  • Leslie

    6 years ago

    Ew! You should have a warning on here for vegetarians 😉 I don’t recall seeing this dish when I visited Thailand, but then again I wasn’t looking for it. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Ha, thanks Leslie! Yes, I should have warned that it’s not exactly vegetarian friendly. Goong Ten is not the most common dish, I only really see it sometimes around local markets in Bangkok and it’s often covered in a cloth to keep the shrimp cool – so it can be a challenge to locate.