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Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a dish of rice noodles which is stir fried together with eggs, fish sauce and a variety of vegetables. Tamarind juice and pepper along with a few spices also go into the dish. It is considered to be the National dish of Thailand. The dish is usually known as Phat Thai in Thailand and the neighboring countries.

The dish is usually very light and absolutely dry in consistency. This particular form is authentic and is known as the Bangkok style of Pad Thai. The same dish is smothered in tomato ketchup in the Western countries making the noodles turn red in color.

Chicken, shrimps and tofu are also popular ingredients that can be used within the dish. The juice of a lime along with peanuts give the pan fried dish the authentic Thai flavor.

The dish is cooked in a number of ways with the food carts modifying it in numerous styles. It is also one of the most popular street foods in Bangkok.

The rice noodle dish can be converted into a vegetarian dish by omitting the fish sauce, shrimps and chicken. White vinegar is often substituted for tamarind juice in the US and freshly ground peanuts are usually avoided by the Westerners as they are known to cause food allergies.

Origin of Pad Thai Recipe

The dish had been known in different forms all across Thailand since it was introduced in Ayuthaya, the ancient capital, by the Vietnamese traders. Luang Phibunsongkhram, the Prime Minister of the country promoted Phat Thai as the National dish in order to reduce rice consumption among the local population. The rice was exported to other countries and sustained Thailand’s economy during the 1930s and 1940s. It was prepared and sold in the streets by food cart vendors who received printed pamphlets instructing them on the methods of preparation.

Most of the Thai people remained unemployed due to the recession Post World War II. The government encouraged the production of rice noodles and thousands of noodle shops opened across the country thus providing a livelihood to the citizens of Thailand. The dish gained in popularity during this period and soon became the staple food of Thailand.

Pad Thai Recipe: Ingredients and Preparation Overview

The entire dish consists of two distinct parts with the sauce usually made later. The Western countries have the benefit of using pre-packaged, ready to eat sauces which can be added to hot water and consumed. However, the Thais prefer making the sauce every time the noodles are prepared.

Rice noodles known as linguini width along with eggs, bean sprouts, tofu, shrimps and shallots are the main ingredients with roasted peanuts and a variety of spices including coriander, chili and white pepper powder.

The sauce contains palm sugar and tamarind juice along with fish sauce which is tossed over the stir fried noodles which need to be firm and a little sticky. Lemon wedges are the usual accompaniments with this dish while hot chili sauce is also served on the side.

Serving Pad Thai

  • Soy sauce and hot chili sauce are usually served with the dish sold by the food carts.
  • A green salad is often served with the dish in Thai restaurants.
  • Lime wedges and raw onion rings are preferred accompaniments in Thailand.
  • Steamed broccoli and tomato ketchup are the usual condiments served in Thai restaurants of America.
  • A salad of tossed pea sprouts, cucumber slices and pickled daikon are also served on the side.

Pad Thai Recipe Variations

The dish is considered to be a fast food in Thai culture and has been adapted to suit all kinds of tastes. The popular variations of Pad Thai are:-

  • Adding chicken, beef or pork instead of shrimp.
  • Using soy sauce and other vegetables like carrots, baby corn and broccoli instead of fish sauce and meat. This is known as Pad Thai mangsawirat, a vegetarian version of the popular street food.
  • Adding tamarind pulp and tomatoes instead of the commercially available tamarind juice.
  • White or cider vinegar along with lime juice instead of tamarind juice are preferred by the Westerners.
  • Using white, crystallized sugar instead of the brown palm sugar changes the color of the dish.
  • Adding red chili flakes tend to make the dish more spicy.
  • Adding tomato ketchup along with Sriracha chile sauce changes the flavor of Pad Thai completely.

Dishes Similar to Pad Thai

  • Phat Si Io- it is another common street food in Thailand prepared with garlic, light soy sauce and broad rice noodles.

  • Shahe fen- a Cantonese dish prepared with rice noodles.


Woon Sen Pad Thai has been popularized since 1990 and is prepared with mung bean starch instead of rice.