Pad thai is the number one dish asked for at Thai restaurants in the United States. It is a dish of Thailand, or is it?
In 2009 Gastronomica wrote quoting Nitya Pibulsonggram, Thailand’s former ambassador to the United States, saying in respects to pad Thai, “It may be the original fast food in Thailand.”
Does Pad Thai Originate In Thailand
The full name of the dish in Thai is “kway teow pad thai,” which translates to “Thai-style stir-fried noodles.”
The cooking method of stir-frying meat, vegetables and noodles together with sauce is more Chinese than Thai.
Noodle stir-fries are typically unique to Chinese cuisine. In fact, just about every ingredient found in pad Thai isn’t native to the people of Thailand.
The only really Thai ingredient is the pounded dried chillies – and that is according to the Bangkok Post (food section).
Chef Kasma Loha-unchit a Thai-American cooking teacher, and author, notes in her own recipe, to translate “kway teow pad thai” as Thai-style stir-fried noodles,’ would clearly suggest the recipe has origins that are not Thai.
How Pad Thai Was Introduced To Thailand
The popularization of the noodle dish, was but one of several measures taken by Thai authorities in the 1930s to both Westernize and modernize the country.
Thailand unified around the recipe as its national dish, that in 1932 Thailand’s then prime minister, Phibun, popularized the dish.
He distributed the recipe as it was considered a nutritious, well-balanced and inexpensive meal to prepare.
Phibun’s government not only disseminated the recipe for pad Thai, but encouraged street vendors to make and sell it throughout the country.
Fun Facts About Pad Thai
Once you’ve had pad thai, it’s easy to know why it’s so popular. The ingredients can vary, but it will always have rice noodles, peanuts, scrambled eggs and vegetables stir-fried in an awesomely delicious sauce.
It’s full of fresh flavors, and the sauce has the perfect balance of sweet, sour and savory tastes.
In 2007 there were some 11,600 and in 2008 over 20,000 Thai restaurants worldwide, many of which have donned the name of Thailand’s most popular noodle dish, again according to Gastronomica.
Given that pad Thai can now be found in more than 2 million Google searches, it would certainly seem unthinkable to call the dish by any other name. But it wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, either.
As Thai food goes truly global, lover’s of pad Thai can now say that their favorite dish has become as ubiquitous as the Mexican taco or Italian spaghetti.
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