Is Pad Thai actually Thai?

In this article, we answer the following question: Is Pad Thai actually Thai? We tell you the history of this popular dish and also teach you how to make it!

Is Pad Thai actually Thai?

Yes, Pad Thai is the quintessential dish of Thai cuisine. The rough translation of the name of this stew is “Thai stir fry.” This world-famous dish is, however, a reasonably recent recipe. It has not even a century of life in the kitchens of the Southeast Asian country.

Thus, this typical dish could not be labeled as traditional, as it was an invention of the middle of the 20th century. Pad Thai was created at the time of the dictatorship of Plaek Pibulsonggram, known as Phibun, who ruled in Thailand for two periods: 1938-1944 and 1948-1957. 

When creating it, the objective was to make Thai culture known and make a dish that palates around the world liked. In fact, at this same time, the country had changed its name for the first time, from Siam to Prathet Thai. And later, in 1949, it was renamed as today Thailand. 

The country did not have a ‘national dish.’ Well, it had to be invented, Phibun decided. This coincided with the Second World War hardships, which caused a severe shortage of rice, the staple food for Thais. That led to cheap, saturating rice noodles. And from there, to the recipe that has taken Thailand worldwide, which was gradually becoming the long-awaited ‘national dish.’

Pad Thai is undoubtedly the best-known dish in Thai cuisine, which has another of its most popular dishes in Som Tum Kung. It is a ubiquitous dish in the daily life of Thais, it is not labeled with a specific time of year, and it is eaten both with lunch and dinner. Pad Thai is usually eaten as the sole dish of a meal. In Thailand, street restaurants that sell Pad Thai are very typical; among others, to eat on the street.

With a sweet touch, the dish has as main elements rice noodles, vegetables -soya bean sprout, fermented turnip-, shrimp, egg, chopped peanuts, and chili powder. The level of spiciness, to taste. It also has meat – chicken, beef – and tofu, and can be served with a tenderloin/lime piece, among others. 

The recipe and seasonings may vary depending on the restaurant. But the secret of the dish, in all its versions, will continue to be the tamarind sauce, prepared over low heat.

How to prepare Pad Thai?

As we have said, the dish can add or exclude some of the following  ingredients:

  • One egg
  • 50g diced tofu
  • 50g fermented turnip diced
  • 30g minced chicken
  • 100-150g rice noodles
  • Three units of peeled shrimp tail
  • Bean sprouts
  • Lemon
  • Chinese chives
  • chili powder
  • Peanuts
  • Ingredients for the Pad Thai sauce
  • Tamarind
  • Brown sugar

Preparation:

First of all, sauté egg, fermented turnip, tofu, and chicken in a wok. Later, add the rice noodles, which before have been soaked in water for x time depending on the product. Sauté everything together with a little and add the shrimp tails. Once everything is ready, add the Pad Thai sauce and mix all the ingredients well. 

Finally, add the bean sprouts and the Chinese chives, and sauté everything together. Serve it with crushed peanuts, chili powder, a lemon wedge, and some bean sprouts.

Can you eat Pad Thai cold?

You can eat Pad Thai cold or warm. It is a great dish that can be enjoyed at any time! Pad Thai combines rice noodles with meat, shrimp, egg, and sauce that you make from several spices and ingredients (spicy, sweet, salty, and sour). Serve with fresh green onions, hot paprika, hazelnuts, and sprouted beans.

In a bowl, all you need is a wok, mix the sauce ingredients, the rice noodles, and soaked in hot water.

It takes a maximum of 30 minutes to finish the preparation from head to toe, so it’s a quick and delicious recipe, I think it’s relatively healthy, but I’m not a nutritionist. In Thailand, you can find it both in restaurants and street food, prepared on the spot, in front of you.

Can you buy Pad Thai sauce?

You can buy Thai sauce in the US from “Thai Kitchen,” which sells an original, gluten-free Pad Thai sauce that you can use for different dishes. “Thai Kitchen” can be found at your local Walmart, at Albertsons, Instacart, or Amazon.  

You can also buy original Pad Thai sauce in most Asian supermarkets and the other ingredients you need for this dish. Or you can make it yourself at home, with just a few ingredients.

Ideally, you will use a mix of oyster sauce and tamarind paste to make your own Pad Thai sauce. Still, if these ingredients are too difficult to find (depending on your location), you can also make the sauce with: brown sugar, fish sauce, one lime (or lemon), and ketchup, as you can see from minute 11 of this video.

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: Is Pad Thai actually Thai? We told you the history of this popular dish and also taught you how to make it!

Pad Thai is a traditional Thai dish, cooked with Chinese noodles but with Thai spices and techniques. This recipe has taken Thailand worldwide, which was gradually becoming the long-awaited ‘national dish.’

If you got any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

References

Thaiest.com – Thai Food Dishes You Must Try

Thespruceeats.com – Traditional Thai Recipes

Aboutthatfood.com – Thai Food

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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