Whether you're an old pro or a total Thai newbie, pad thai perfectly captures everything that makes the cuisine great. It's got all the building blocks of all things Thai – sweetness, sourness, saltiness and heat.
You'll find pad thai on the menu of any Thai restaurant worth their rice noodles. But you probably won't find it done the same way twice – versatility is the name of the game with this dish. While Chee Is Thaï keep things traditional with their chicken option, and Thaioria pack some shrimp in theirs, places like Paya Thai offer up vegetarian versions so everyone can get in on this crunchy, citrusy classic.
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The ingredient list alone gives you an idea of the heat, crunch and aroma this Thai staple is set to deliver. You'll find rice noodles, peanuts, egg, shallots, bean sprouts, tofu, garlic and red chili all lighting up in this dish, with a splash of fish sauce and squeeze of lime to finish it off. The distinctive flavours are brought together through rapid flicks of an extremely hot wok.
A great pad thai bursts with textures – the crunch of the peanuts meets the tender chicken or tofu, the soft noodles and firm vegetables. Each bite contrasts with the last – with an added chilli kick for extra excitement.
The love of pad thai runs deep. It was Thailand's original fast food and its history stretches back to the street food scene, where it remains popular today. But the biggest plot twist is that it doesn't truly originate from Thailand at all – it's almost certainly Chinese.
ts stir-fried rice noodles and wok-based creation point to Chinese origins. The most telling evidence is the name – 'Thai-style rice noodles' – suggesting an interpretation on a theme. But while the dish's inspiration might not be Thai, this way of cooking it certain is.
You'll find all sorts of pad thai across the globe. Some places like to keep in line with tradition, like they do at Chee is Thaï. Their version adds juicy chicken to the tender noodles and fresh vegetables. Thaioria also stick pretty close to home with their Pad Thai Kung – with familiar rice noodles and trademark tamarind sauce accompanied by some herby shrimp.
Vegetarians can join the pad thai fun too at Paya Thai. Their vegetarian version is brimming with peanuts, vegetables, tamarind and a generous helping of tofu and egg for an extra protein boost. It's bursting with texture and flavour – a mish-mash of everything that somehow comes together in perfect harmony.
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