Food and travelling go hand in hand like mac and cheese and salt and pepper! There might be tons of Thai restaurants around the globe, but nothing beats the experience of eating a local dish in its country of origin!
Pad Thai noodle dish made with chewy, stir-fried rice noodles, vegetables, bean sprouts, peanuts, and egg, among other things is for many westerners the symbol of Thai cooking and many Thais agree with that.
1. The origins
The origins of pad Thai noodles might have not started in Thailand but in China. Its full name is kway teow pad Thai, which in Chinese refers to rice noodles. It is probable that some early version of the dish came to Thailand with settlers crossing from southern China and brought their own recipe for fried rice noodles. Certainly the cooking style stir-frying is Chinese, and most food historians credit the Chinese with the invention of noodles. However, the flavors and textures are pure Thai.
2. The classic components
The ingredients itself are not that notable. But the combination of them in the finished product is what makes pad Thai special. To Thais the explanation lies in the balance of flavors and textures. The three primary Thai flavors of salty, sour, and sweet, and a fourth, spicy, added to taste in the form of chilies. The bean sprouts and peanuts add a desirable, though subtle crunch. Pad Thai succeeds on every count, explains Chombhala Chareonying. “The combination of spices and seasonings produces a taste that is tasty to Thais,” he says. Pad Thai suits Western palates “because it is not spicy. Many Europeans and Americans like it because it has every taste: sour, sweet, and salty. The palm sugar (the traditional Thai sweetener) smells much better than granulated sugar, and makes the sauce so thick.”
Like today’s recipe, the original included meat such as shrimp, pork, or chicken; tamarind; palm sugar; fish sauce; eggs; dried shrimp; garlic; tofu; salted radish; peanuts; slender rice noodles; and bean sprouts.
What is also interesting is that Pad Thai is one basic recipe, with no specific quantities of ingredients.
It’s all interpreted; you are supposed to know how it tastes and what you should look for before the next stage of cooking. In old Thai cookbooks there is no such thing as quantity. That’s why you never get the same dish. Bangkok natives often garnish the dish with something crisp, like raw sour fruit or raw mango. But one element of pad Thai is a constant: the medium-slender dried rice noodles!