Pad Thai, a perfect balance of sweet, salty, and sour. Although I imagined that the dish was an ancient, centuries old dish, I was surprised to learn that the recipe actually originated in the 1930’s. It was promoted by the Prime Minister of Thailand at that time to promote nationalism in the country. Pad Thai identifies more with China as a Chinese stir fry noodle dish. Most Thai cuisine is based on rice rather than noodles. However, Pad Thai quickly became popular as a street food and is best described as “the original fast food of Thailand.”
The components of Pad Thai are simple. Rice noodles are paired with a protein, either shrimp, chicken, tofu or all three. Scrambled eggs, peanuts, shallots, chilis, and garlic add bursts of flavor and texture. The salty fish sauce is important to balance the heat from the dried chilis and the tartness of the lime. Do not omit the sugar. It is essential to balance all three of these components, salt, sour and sweet.
Once you have all of the ingredients, you can prep most of this recipe ahead and then assemble just before serving. The flat rice noodles are usually sold as Pad Thai noodles. They do not require cooking. Follow the instructions on the package and soak the noodles in hot water until flexible but not too soft. If the noodles are too soft, the dish will become mushy. Pad Thai is best if stir fried in a wok. However, if you do not have a wok, a large skillet will serve the same purpose.
The chicken, shrimp, or tofu can be gently cooked ahead, and cut into bite sized or chopstick sized pieces, so that they are ready to add to the spicy noodle mixture. The scrambled eggs are cooked until firm and then sliced and added back to the noodle mixture. Pad Thai, from the streets of Bangkok to your table. These Spicy Thai Cucumbers are the perfect pair!