Is Pad Thai supposed to be sweet?

In this article, we answer the following question: Is Pad Thai supposed to be sweet? We talk about the secrets of Thai cuisine and give you an easy step-by-step Pad Thai recipe. 

Is Pad Thai supposed to be sweet?

Pad Thai is not supposed to be as sweet as a dessert. Pad Thai is a dish that combines sweet and savory flavors and each chef adds their flavor to the sauce, which can be more or less spicy. Thus, the degree of sweetness will depend on the sauce you make for this dish.

Thailand is an exotic country for Westerners and whose gastronomy tastes sweet, sour, and salty at the same time: flavors mixed so that they achieve a perfect balance. This concept is key to talking about Thai cuisine, and we will only be able to discover it by walking through its streets full of food stalls.

This country is a paradise for lovers of street food. And precisely among so many people coming and going, among intrepid tuk-tuks making a hole in the dense traffic, and among vibrantly colored taxis, we will discover a great variety of recipes for the delicious dish. Some only with dried prawns, others with prawns or pork, but invariably with a sauce made with tamarind pulp, sugar, and the unmistakable nam pla fish sauce.

The real name of this dish is kway teow pad thai. The first two words are of Chinese origin and translate as rice noodles, and the Thai term pad or pat translates as a stir fry. 

It is believed that it is a dish of Chinese origin – for the first two words – and popularized in Thailand thanks to the local government’s promotion to encourage rice noodles’ consumption in the middle of the last century. 

In order not to get lost in history, it would be better for us to go directly to prepare a good plate of sautéed rice noodles in the Thai style with ingredients for four or six people.

How to prepare Pad Thai step-by-step


For the tamarind sauce:

  • 90 ml tamarind concentrate
  • 125 ml of water
  • 120 g of palm sugar
  • 120 ml fish sauce, nam pla

For the pad thai:

  • 300 g sen lek or sen mii rice noodles
  • 50g green stalks of Chinese chives
  • 65 g of chopped shallots and a pinch of coarse salt
  • 18 prawns or prawns
  • 180 g of hard tofu
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 60 g of Chinese radish and a tablespoon of salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 25 g of dried prawns
  • Two pinches of chili powder
  • 100 g of bean sprouts
  • Two eggs 

For the garnish:

  • 20 coriander leaves, chopped
  • A handful of bean sprouts
  • Four tablespoons ground peanuts
  • Two tablespoons grated palm sugar
  • Chives for garnish
  • Two lime cut into quarters
  • chili powder


  1. Soak the noodles for two hours while we prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  1. Grate the palm sugar and put it in a small saucepan together with the concentrated tamarind, the water, the sugar, and the fish sauce. Bring to a boil, stir with a wooden spoon, and reduce the consistency of a syrup.
  1. Cut the stems into sticks no more than two centimeters long and reserve them in a small bowl.
  1. Mash the shallots in a mortar with the pinch of salt and reserve. We clean the prawns leaving the tail intact and cut with a knife along the back to clean and remove the intestine. Prepare the chives and prawns.
  1. Cut the tofu into small cubes and heat enough oil in a wok. Fry the dice until golden brown and remove them with the help of a slotted spoon. Reserve them on kitchen paper to eliminate excess fat.
  1. Grate the Chinese radish and put it in a colander. Sprinkle it with the salt, mix it, and squeeze it carefully. Pass it through the water to eliminate excess salt and drain it well. Prepare the tofu and radish.
  1. In a very hot wok, add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil – let’s not forget that all the liquids that go to the wok have to be added to the edges so that when they reach the bottom, they are already hot.
  1. Sauté the shallots a little. Add the dried prawns, the prawns, the fried tofu, and the grated radish and mix everything quickly.
  1. Drain the noodles well and add them to the wok. Sauté for about a minute. Sauté the ingredients.
  1. Add the tamarind sauce and chili powder and sauté for another minute.
  1. Add the chives and the bean sprouts. We mix everything carefully and load all the preparation on one side of the wok. If we see that the wok is dry, we can add a little more oil, add the sauce and the vegetables.
  1. Pour the beaten eggs into the wok and make a scramble with chopsticks or a wooden spoon. We mix everything carefully once the egg has set.

We serve the pad thai on a large plate or individual plates and garnish with fresh coriander leaves, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, chives, and a lime wedge. We serve immediately, and we accompany it with all the ingredients of the garnish served in small bowls so that each diner is suited to their liking.

Now that we know how to prepare a pad thai, we can only enjoy this dish eating with a spoon and fork in hand in the purest Thai style -with the spoon, we will cut the noodles, and with a fork or a knife, we will help to fill our spoon and to be able to enjoy this succulent dish.

Other FAQs about Pad Thai which you may be interested in.

Why is Pad Thai red?

Why does Pad Thai taste like ketchup?

Final thoughts

In this article, we answered the following question: Is Pad Thai supposed to be sweet? We talked about the secrets of Thai cuisine and gave you an easy step-by-step Pad Thai recipe. 

All the ingredients of Asian origin in this recipe can be found in many stores specialized in oriental products. 

  • The most commonly used cooking oils in Thai cuisine are coconut or palm oil. It is best to replace them with sunflower or corn oil.
  • We can replace the tamarind concentrate with a little vinegar since its main contribution to the dish is acidity and giving it flavor.
  • Palm sugar (nam dtarn bip) can replace it with brown sugar or the sweetener that we like the most.
  • Dried prawns (gong haeng) are an oriental ingredient widely used as a condiment, and the Thais incorporate it in many preparations. They are vacuum packed and frozen. We can substitute them for salted anchovies, although the flavor will vary a bit.
  • Fish sauce (nam pla) is what Thais use to salt their dishes. It is made from fish or prawns fermented with salt. We can find it even in supermarkets. In any case, we could substitute it with salted anchovies mashed in a little water.

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

References – Thai Food Dishes You Must Try – Traditional Thai Recipes – Thai Food

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