What does Pad in Thai food mean?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: What does Pad in Thai food mean? We will speak about Thailand’s emblematic dish (Pad Thai). We will also discuss Thai cuisine and flavors.

What does Pad in Thai food mean?

Pad in Thai food means “fried”. The translation of Thailand’s favorite stew is “Thai stir fry.”

Pad Thai – Thailand’s national dish can be served in two ways:

  1. Everything in the same dish.
  2. Separately with the accompaniments and condiments aside.

Pad thai is one of the most typical and famous pasta dishes in Thai cuisine, for which there are many recipes. In addition, it can be found both in restaurants and in street food stalls. Many people from different parts of the world travel to this country to try it.

Pad thai is mainly made up of rice noodles with egg, vegetables, a tamarind sauce, minced peanuts, tofu, chicken, fish, and shrimp. This dish is characterized by combining sweet and salty flavors. Each chef adds their own flavor to the sauce. The level of spiciness is to taste.

If we asked some people what Pad Thai is, there would be many answers that would not coincide with what it really is. 

In fact, it is a term that we are not familiar with, but with some clues, as they are rice noodles, which are accompanied by vegetables, fish, shrimp, prawns, prawns, eggs with tofu, bean sprouts that are covered by toasted peanuts, coriander, lemon juice and have a rich tamarind sauce -among many other things-, more than one would perfectly remember one of the most exquisite dishes of Thai cuisine.

There are many ways to prepare Pad Thai and each has its own recipe. From the most popular option, consumed in the street food stalls of the noisy streets of Thailand, to those served in the most expensive and sophisticated western restaurants.

Regarding the full name of the dish, it is Kueh Tiaw Pad Thai, or what is the same, Thai fried noodles. The origin of the rice noodles is Chinese, it seems that the original word would be Kuew Thiaw which comes from that country and means “noodles”. 

For this reason, it is believed that the Thais adopted it, and took the plate and the word of the Chinese migrants who came to work in Thailand and who came from the Yunnan area, located in the south of the country. As for the etymology of the word Thai, it may come from an ethnic minority in Yunnan called T’ai (Pronounced Dai). Hence the origin of the current word “Thai”, understood as a person originally from Thailand.

The history of Pai Thai 

It was the year 1938 and Thailand was called Siam, surrounded by French and British colonies, the country was an ethnic mixture with different identities marked by each of the regions.

With the coming to power of former Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram ‘Phibun’, his main objective was to achieve a more modern, stronger country with deep nationalist roots. To do this, he motivated the Siamese people, making them more productive and taking pride in their place of birth. 

Phibun thought that in order to achieve that collective identity, it would be very good to have a new national dish because until then the main food of Thais was rice with chili paste, leaves, and salt.

It seems that Phibun announced his intention to create a new national dish and his son made reference to a famous recipe known as Pad Thai, which was a dish that was usually cooked at home. Another version refers to the fact that he called a contest to see with which dish the nation could be identified, although it is also thought that it is a recipe introduced by Chinese merchants in Thailand.

It is not very well known what actually happened, but Pad Thai became popular during World War II due to the shortage of rice, improving the diet of Thais as well as their hygiene when cooked in clean pans. ‘Phibun’ secured a national common meal for Thailand that would become global.

It is surprising how some rice noodles have managed to cross borders and be in more than 12,000 restaurants. It will be because of its flavor, its texture, and the fact that when accompanied, they taste much better.

Thai cuisine and flavors 

Thai cuisine is based on recipes based on rice or rice noodles, well seasoned and often mixing salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter flavors. Far from being uniform, it has many variations and specialties depending on the region: very spicy in the south, milder in the center, with Burmese or Laotian influences in the north and northeast.

As everywhere in Asia, rice is the basis of any recipe. So much so that the word “Kao” designates rice but also food in a much broader sense. Preparing it is quite an art since it is first soaked in water to remove the starch and then steamed, in a pot, or more traditionally in a wicker basket.

In Thai culture, food is shared. Therefore, meals with families or friends are a succession of dishes that we share and in which everyone helps themselves.

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

Can you eat Pad Thai cold?

Why is pad Thai so unhealthy?

Why is Pad Thai red?

Final thoughts

Thai gastronomy is based on its ingredients and combines them—one of these ingredients is the hot chili pepper. So, if you do not like spicy food, mention it! Learn to differentiate dishes with rice (which generally aren’t that spicy) with the famous papaya salad or tom yam. 

Thai cuisine is something you have to try at least once! It is impossible not to find something you will like.

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