Pad thai

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Pad thai
Street stall pad thai from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand
Alternative namesPhad Thai, Phat Thai
TypeRice noodle dish
CourseEntree or main
Place of originThailand
Associated cuisineThai
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredients

Pad thai, phat thai, or phad thai (/ˌpɑːd ˈt/ or /ˌpæd ˈt/; Thai: ผัดไทย, RTGSphat thai, ISO: p̄hạd thịy, pronounced [pʰàt̚ tʰāj] , 'Thai stir fry'), is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food in Thailand as part of the country's cuisine.[1][2] It is typically made with rice noodles, shrimp, peanuts, a scrambled egg, and bean sprouts. The ingredients are fried in a wok.


The Pad thai was originally called "Kuai tiao pad thai" but this was later shortened to simply Pad thai.[3][4] Kuai tiao (ก๋วยเตี๋ยว) is a Thai borrowing of the Teochew word guê2 diao5 (粿條), a type of thick Chinese rice noodle also known as shahe fen. The word kuai tiao has cognates in several other Southeast Asian countries where Chinese immigrants settled; with kuyteav in Cambodia, hủ tiếu in Vietnam, and kway teow in Malaysia and Singapore being analogues.[5]

Although stir-fried rice noodles were introduced to Thailand from China centuries ago, the dish pad thai was invented in the mid-20th century.[6] Author Mark Padoongpatt[7] maintains that pad thai is "...not this traditional, authentic, going back hundreds of years dish. It was actually created in the 1930s in Thailand. The dish was created because Thailand was focused on nation-building.[2] So this dish was created using rice noodles and it was called Pad Thai as a way to galvanize nationalism."[8]

Another explanation of pad thai's provenance holds that, during World War II, Thailand suffered a rice shortage due to the war and floods. To reduce domestic rice consumption, the Thai government under Prime Minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram promoted consumption of noodles instead.[9] His government promoted rice noodles and helped to establish the identity of Thailand.[2] As a result, a new noodle called sen chan pad thai (named after Chanthaburi Province) was created. Pad thai has since become one of Thailand's national dishes.[10][11] Today, some food vendors add pork or chicken (although the original recipe did not contain meat because of the government's perception that pork was a Chinese meat).[12] Some food vendors still use the original recipe.

Thai-American food writer Kasma Loha-unchit disputes the claim of a native Thai origin and suggests that pad thai was actually invented by the Chinese immigrants themselves, because "for a dish to be so named in its own country clearly suggests an origin that isn't Thai".[13] Noodle cookery in most Southeast Asian countries was introduced by the wave of immigrants from southern China settling in the region the past century. Loha-unchit states that the ethnic Chinese of Thailand were aware that "Central Thai people were very fond of the combination of hot, sour, sweet and salty flavors, they added these to their stir-fried noodle dishes and gave it a fusion name, much like Western chefs today are naming their dishes Thai this or Thai that on their East-West menus."[14]

At least as early as 2001, the Thai government used pad thai as a form of "soft power,"[15] creating "the Global Thai Restaurant Company, Ltd., in an effort to establish at least 3,000 Thai restaurants worldwide."[16] The plan included numerous government agencies and resulted in nearly tripling the number of Thai restaurants globally in seventeen years.[16]

Pad thai is listed at number five on a list of "World's 50 most delicious foods" readers' poll compiled by CNN Go in 2011.[17]


Ingredients for pad thai

Pad thai is made with rice noodles, which are stir fried with eggs and chopped firm tofu, flavored with tamarind juice, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, shallots, and sometimes red chili pepper and palm sugar, and served with lime wedges and often crushed roasted peanuts.[18][19] It may contain other vegetables like bean sprouts, garlic chives, preserved radish, and raw banana flowers. It may also contain fresh shrimp, crab, squid, chicken, or other fish or meat.[18][19]

Many of the ingredients are provided on the side as condiments, such as red chili pepper, lime wedges, roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, garlic chives, and other miscellaneous fresh vegetables.[20] Vegetarian versions may substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce and omit the shrimp entirely.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "pad thai". Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  2. ^ a b c Mayyasi, Alex (7 November 2019). "The Oddly Autocratic Roots of Pad Thai". Gastro Obscura. Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  3. ^ admin (2020-09-19). "Pad Thai: From Foreigner-cum-resident to the Thai Roots". Thailand NOW. Retrieved 2024-04-22.
  4. ^ "The History of Pad Thai". Asian Inspirations. 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2024-04-22.
  5. ^ Terei-Vigh, Kriszti (July 2018). "Kuy teav". 196 flavors. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  6. ^ "The Truth About Pad Thai". BBC. 2015-04-28.
  7. ^ Padoongpatt, Mark (September 2017). Flavors of Empire: Food and the Making of Thai America. American Crossroads (Book 45) (1st ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520293748. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  8. ^ Belle, Rachel (16 July 2019). "Why there are so many Thai restaurants in Seattle". My Northwest. KIRO Radio. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  9. ^ Pungkanon, Kupluthai (13 May 2018). "All wrapped up and ready to go". The Nation. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  10. ^ Tapia, Semina (2011-08-15). "Thai National Foods". Archived from the original on 2013-06-05. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  11. ^ dgbrittany (2020-10-12). "The History of Pad Thai: How the Amazing Dish Came to Be". Thai Ginger. Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  12. ^ ไพวรรณ์, กฤษดา. "วัฒนธรรมการกิน : กินแบบชาตินิยมสมัยจอมพล ป. พิบูลสงคราม". Official of Art and Culture: Muban Chombueng Rajabhat University (in Thai). Archived from the original on 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  13. ^ Quartz, Roberto A. Ferdman (2014-04-17). "The Non-Thai Origins of Pad Thai". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  14. ^ "Pad Thai Recipe". Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  15. ^ Kelley, Ryan. "What Is Sportswashing (and Does It Work)?". Freakonomics. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  16. ^ a b "The Surprising Reason that There Are So Many Thai Restaurants in America". Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  17. ^ "Your pick: World's 50 most delicious foods". CNN Go. September 7, 2011. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  18. ^ a b Chongchitnant, Pailin (2019-09-27). "Authentic Pad Thai Recipe ผัดไท". Hot Thai Kitchen. Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  19. ^ a b Kaitlin (2020-09-28). "Pad Thai: Authentic Thai Recipe!". The Woks of Life. Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  20. ^ "7-Steps to Properly Eating Pad Thai". 25 May 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-29.

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