Food Friday: My Pad Thai

Food Friday: My Pad Thai

Posted on 19. Jun, 2009 by in food

In my short time here, one thing that has stood out to me in Thai cuisine is the mixing of the basic tastes (sweetness, bitterness, sourness and saltiness… plus spiciness!). I’ve been surprised several times by some random combination of those five tastes in one dish (but not always in a pleasant way).

So it’s interesting that the dish Thailand is known for in the West is Pad Thai, because it combines all of those things in one tasty meal. For those of you who don’t know, Pad Thai is a dish of stir-fried rice noodles with tamarind, peppers, eggs, fish sauce, sugar- and can have an assortment of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, or tofu. Oh, and don’t forget, crushed peanuts and coriander!

Field Marshal Pibul

Field Marshal Pibul

Another interesting thing to note: the name Pad Thai, which means “Thai-style stir-fried noodles”, suggests that it’s origin isn’t even Thai. Cooking with noodles was first introduced by waves of immigrants from China who brought noodles and their ways of cooking them. And then in the economic aftermath of WWII, the post-war government of Field Marshall Pibul, trying to revive the Thai economy, promoted rice noodle production as a way to earn a living. Instructions on how to make the noodles, plus recipes were distributed around the country. The idea stuck, and rice noodles went on to become a widespread staple food in Thailand.
I love when cultures merge, becoming something new and unique. But enough talk. Here’s how to make it!

How to make Pad Thai:


  • Dried flat Thai rice noodles
  • Shrimp
  • Eggs
  • Bean sprouts
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Green onions
  • Coriander
  • Peanut, coconut, or other vegetable oil for frying
  • Tofu


  • Fish sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Palm or brown sugar
  • Tamarind paste mixed

As with any other stir-fried dish, you sort of mix and match the ingredients to your tastes.  There are no wrong ways to make Pad Thai, as different regions of Thailand have their own slightly different versions.  Use this as a guideline.  Before you start chopping veggies, soak the noodles in cold water.  They should be very al dente before you start frying (too hard is better than too soft).  Mix the tamarind paste with water and a generous amount of palm sugar.  Once you’ve prepped the ingredients, heat the oil in a wok and add tofu, shrimp, then noodles, eggs and sauce (add fish sauce, soy sauce or oyster sauce as you wish).  Keep stirring.  When the noodles soften, add sprouts, onions and peanuts.  Serve with a garnish of lime, extra bean sprouts, and if you want to be really authentic, banana flower.

I realize that there are no quantities listed, and some of the ingredients may be different than other recipes.  If you’d like a more detailed recipe, see how Alton Brown does it.

Tamarind- soaked in water and seeds and skins removed

Tamarind- soaked in water- Seeds and skins removed

Shelled Shrimp

Shelled Shrimp

Crushed Roasted Peanuts

Crushed Roasted Peanuts

rice noodles

Rice noodles

Green Onions

Green Onions

Work Station- wok, oil, fish sauce, tamarind sauce, eggs, noodles, tofu, veggies

Work Station- wok, oil, fish sauce, tamarind sauce, eggs, noodles, tofu, veggies


Bon Appétit!

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2 Responses to “Food Friday: My Pad Thai”

  1. Dad and Mom Ruggles

    19. Jun, 2009

    You’re making us hungry.We haven’t tried that restaurant in Rochester that is named Bangkok, but we will, so we can feel closer to you

    Miss you and love you

    . Dad and Mom

    Reply to this comment
  2. Lori

    20. Jun, 2009

    If you want to try the *ultimate* in Thai flavor mixing, see if you can find the appetizer called “mieng kum”. It’s my favorite! It might be hard to find in Bangkok … I think it’s a Northern dish. Just another reason you need to come visit us!

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