Today is Coronation Day in Thailand! So what better time than now to fire up the wok and cook one of my favourite Thai dishes – pad thai.
I learned how to create this Thai national dish from a Thai chef who also used to work as an English teacher here in Madrid. One very useful tip she shared with me was to pour some water every so often to keep the rice noodles from drying up (you can check out the recipe she gave me below).
A curious history
I also found out that pad thai has a curious background – this dish was in fact part of the Thai government’s plan after the Second World War to improve the Thai national image and economy.
After World War II, the European-educated Prime Minister of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram (or “Phibun” for short) sought to transform the country’s culture and identity.
One of his strategies to boost Thai national pride and improve the Thai diet was to promote a national dish. Phibun’s government then created and distributed a basic recipe for Pad Thai that included meat, bean sprouts, onions, peanuts and eggs with noodles.
Phibun encouraged Thai families to make pad thai part of their meal plan to help poor Thai farmers. He also urged street vendors to make use of wheeled carts as mobile cooking stations to sell the noodle dish on Bangkok’s streets, and it soon became a cheap lunchtime staple.
Today, pad thai is known the world over as Thailand’s national dish. It has become quite popular here in Madrid but to be honest, I haven’t really had a five star one (yet) in any of the Thai restaurants here. I still prefer making it at home – and sharing it with a hungry bunch of friends!
Rice noodles (I use the “Cock” brand. Yes indeed that is the name)
3 Garlic cloves (crushed)
Phad Thai sauce
(*Note: You can also add tofu, which was in the original recipe she gave me. I personally add crushed peanuts and like to throw in chicken slices also together with the shrimp)
Soak the noodle in water or about an hour earlier. Fry garlic, shrimps and fried tofu together then add eggs, spread the eggs around the pan, till they are nearly cooked add the noodle. Stir everything together, try to mix the eggs well with the noodle. Add pad thai source, spring onion and season with lime juice, sugar and fish sauce.