What is Pad Thai?
Pad Thai seems to be everyone’s favorite Thai dish. This world-famous stir fry of rice noodles, vegetables, scramble eggs, tofu, and shrimp or chicken topped with crushed peanuts is served in most Thai restaurants. What makes this beloved dish so popular is pad Thai sauce, a bold blend of traditional Thai flavors. With WATCHAREE’S pad Thai sauce, you can make perfect pad Thai every time!
Thailand’s National Dish
Ironically, pad Thai is not a traditional dish that spans centuries of Thai cuisine, but a new creation that helped establish Thailand as a new country celebrating freedom in a modern world. In 1939 the country renamed itself from Siam to Thailand, which means “Land of the Free”. Later, the new government looked for ways to promote national unity which included creating pad Thai as a new national dish that used rice noodles rather than the more traditional rice. Soon woks on wheel carts began to appear nationwide to serve this now popular stir fry with a distinctive sauce that combines tamarind (sour), dried red chili (spicy), coconut sugar (sweet), and fish sauce (salty).
WATCHAREE’S Pad Thai Sauce – Traditional Recipe from Rayong Province
Pad Thai sauces across Thailand reflect regional traditions and use local ingredients. My favorite pad Thai sauce is from Rayong province, a seaside fishing community east of Bangkok, and is made from dried red chili, shallots, garlic, coconut sugar and tamarind, creating rich flavor and a reddish color. (Pad Thai sauce from central or northern Thailand uses more tamarind and fish sauce and has a browner appearance.) When making pad Thai with crabs or fish from Rayong, the dried red chili, shallots and garlic create a unique experience that brings back vivid memories from my childhood. While I have captured these flavors in my authentic WATCHAREE’S pad Thai sauce, I have also substituted the fish sauce with salt and to make our pad Thai sauce vegan.
Making Quick and Easy Pad Thai at Home
Using our pad Thai sauce, you can make quick and healthy authentic pad Thai at home in 15 minutes!
Soak medium rice noodles at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to soften. Do not use boiling or hot water to soak the noodles which will make noodles brittle and break when stir frying. Not all brands of rice noodles are created equal. Some might break easily during cooking.
To make fusion pad Thai dishes, substitute rice noodles with pasta noodles or use deep fried wonton skins when stir frying with WATCHAREE’S pad Thai sauce and fresh vegetables.
For gluten free pad Thai, you can substitute rice noodles with zoodles made from zucchini, carrots, or other fresh vegetables.
There are two types of pickled radish – salty and sweet. For pad Thai, we use sweet, pickled radish which can be found in most Asian grocery stores. (We use salty pickled radish for rice soup.)
Use firm or extra firm tofu for pad Thai. If firm tofu comes packed in water, pour out the water and leave the tofu block on a flat dish and wrap in a paper towel to absorb the water. Gently press out the liquid with your hands or use a small flat dish to press out the water unless you have a tofu press at home.
1/2 cup WATCHAREE’S pad Thai Sauce
8 oz. (medium width) dried flat rice noodles or banh pho noodles
3-4 tbs. oil
¼ cup water
1/2 cup fried soybean curd or firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tbs. preserved sweet radish
3/4 cup chives, sliced to 1 inch long
1 cup beansprouts
1/4 cup ground unsalted roasted peanuts
1 lime, cut to wedges
1 tsp. ground hot chili (optional)
Soak noodles in cold water until soft for 20- 30 minutes, drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat until hot. Add noodles and stir until noodles are soft.
Add water a little at a time to further cook the noodles to around 70 percent. Do not overcook the noodles at this stage.
With spatula, move noodles to the side of the wok and add eggs. Break egg yolks and cook egg until almost done.
Stir the noodles to cover the eggs, add WATCHAREE’s Pad Thai Sauce, tofu, chives, radishes, and beansprouts. Mix well and turn off the heat.
Arrange noodles on a serving dish. Serve with fresh beansprouts, ground peanuts, and lime wedges. Traditionally, banana blossoms and fresh pennyworth leaves are also served with pad Thai. Add hot chilies if you like spicy pad Thai!