Pad thai or phat thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food and at casual local eateries in Thailand. It is made with soaked dried rice noodles, which are stir-fried with eggs and chopped firm tofu, and flavored with tamarind pulp, fish sauce (nampla น้ำปลา), dried shrimp, garlicor shallots, red chili pepper and palm sugar, and served with lime wedges and often chopped roast peanuts. It may also contain other vegetables like bean sprouts, garlic chives, coriander leaves, pickled radishes or turnips (hua chaipo หัวไชโป๊), and raw bananaflowers. It may also contain fresh shrimp, crab, chicken or another protein. Vegetarian versions may substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce and omit the shrimp.
In Vietnam, a similar dish is called phở xào or bánh phở xào sa tế, meaning “stir-fried phở”.
The noodle is suitable to be stir-fried in a pan, and this Thai noodle was called pad thai. The meats and vegetables in pad thai are similar to food prepared by the Cantonese and Tae Chiew (Chao Zhou in Mandarin) from Guangdong province of China. However, the flavors and textures are pure Thai.
Pad thai was made popular in Thailand during World War II. Pad thai has since become one of Thailand’s national dishes. Today, some food vendors add pork-chops to enhance the taste (although the original recipe did not contain pork because of the government perception that pork was a Chinese meat). Some food vendors still use the original recipe. It is a fast, delicious and nutritious dish, and has become popular in many countries around the world.
Thailand’s calling card to the rest of the culinary world, pad Thai doesn’t need an introduction. There are an infinite number of variations on this timeless tradition, but usually noodles are dressed up with tofu, bean sprouts, onion, and the brilliant final touch: peanuts ground to near dust. Pad Thai is a diner-participation meal; you put on the finishing touches of fish sauce, sugar, chili powder, and crushed peanuts to suit your taste.