Like Pad Thai? This recipe will get you excellent and authentic results.
Chinese rice noodles have been used in Thai cooking for centuries in Thailand but it wasn’t until the 1930s that Pad Thai, the most famous of all of Thailand’s noodle dishes was created. There are a couple of stories about how pad Thai came to be.
The Prime Minister of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram who served from 1938 to 1944 and then again 1948 to 1957 is behind both stories.
Phibunsongkram, who was also a dictator ordered that the new dish should be made using Chinese noodles but that it should be called pad Thai as a way of promoting nationalism.
Another story goes that during WW2, good quality Thai grown rice was in short supply due to the war and heavy rains and floods. Phibunsongkhram promoted the use of rice noodles instead of rice to be eaten as a side and as part of main dishes.
Whatever the truth is, pad Thai has become one of Thailand’s most loved national dishes and it has made its way all around the world. I challenge you to find a good Thai restaurant that doesn’t have it on the menu.
Pad Thai is usually made with chicken, tofu and prawns though other meats are often thrown in by daring chefs. If you order it from street stalls in Thailand, you will most likely get the most popular combo though.
Take a look at the thickness of the rice noodles I used to make this pad Thai. They are only a couple millimeters thick, kind of like fettuccini noodles.
This is what you are looking for when you want to serve an authentic pad Thai. Of course, like every recipe, you could use something else but it won’t be the same.
If you would like to make this dish vegetarian, omit the fish sauce, prawns and chicken. You could double up on the tofu. When purchasing tofu, you need to look for the hard pressed variety and not the softer tofu that is supplied in water. That soft tofu is better for soups.
I purchase Chinese pressed tofu that is marinated in soy sauce, dried and then pressed. This tofu stands up really well to the high heat of the wok.
The required tamarind water is available at shops but you could also make it yourself. Simply soak block tamarind in some hot water for about 30 minutes, break it up and run through a fine sieve. You could also use tamarind concentrate. About 1 ½ tbsp. concentrate mixed with water.
When soaking your rice noodles, be sure not to over-soak them. Four minutes is plenty!
I hope you enjoyed this authentic pad Thai recipe as much as my family and I do. If you tried it, please let me know how it went in the comments. Have any tips on making this recipe even better? I’d love to hear them.