Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food and at most restaurants in Thailand.
The dish is typically prepared with rice noodles, chicken, beef or tofu, peanuts, a scrambled egg, and bean sprouts, among other vegetables.
The ingredients are sautéed together in a wok, which creates even heat distribution.
Once the dish is completed it is tossed in a pad thai sauce, which gives the dish its signature tangy salty flavor with a hint of sweetness.
The History of Pad Thai
Stir-fried rice noodles were introduced to Thailand from China centuries ago.
The original name of Pad Thai is Gway Teow Pad Thai.
Gway Teow means “rice noodles in Chinese” which suggests that there are some elements of China in the dish.
But the present name tells us all about the famous dish. ‘Pad’ means ‘fried’ and ‘Thai’, means Thai style.
It is believed that a similar dish was brought to the Ayutthaya kingdom by Chinese Traders in the 1700s.
The website Expique writes that Pad thai is a relatively recent addition to Thai cuisine, and traces its origins to a period of ultra-nationalism in Thailand in the wake of the 1932 revolution.
Pad thai was listed at number five on a list of “World’s 50 most delicious foods” readers’ poll compiled by CNN TRAVEL in 2017.
Tim Cheung journalist for CCN says of the 2017 poll, “Here’s a food Thai people can’t live without. Similar to Bulgogi, pad thai is packed with nutrients stirred into one glorious fried-noodle dish.
Tim says Pad Thai’s secret is in the sauce — tamarind paste. If anyone ever creates a Hall of Food Fame, that should be first on the list.”
Shrimp Pad Thai
10-12 ounces dried flat rice noodles (1/4-inch wide; sometimes called pad Thai or banh pho)
1/2 pound cooked medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, tail on if desired (for looks)
3 tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp chili sauce (recommended: Sriracha)
4 medium shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4-5 scallions, green and pale green parts, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup radicchio, chopped (or vegetables of choice, like kale or green and purple cabbage)
1 1/2 cups peanut oil
In a small bowl add the tamarind paste, soy sauce, brown sugar, and chili sauce, sir until sugar has dissolved, set aside.
Add rice noodles to a large bowl and pour hot water over them, making all noodles are submerged in hot water.
Soak the rice noodles, according to the instructions on your package, until they are tender. Usually 4-5 minutes. When done, drain noodles and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Next, heat a wok or frying pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil, then swirl to coat side of pan or wok.
Stir-fry scallions, garlic, and shallots until softened, about 1 minute.
Add noodles and stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
Next add crushed peanuts, radicchio, sliced green onions, tamarind sauce and simmer, turning noodles to coat with sauce evenly, about 2 minutes.
Plate noodles and top with cooked shrimp, and chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side.