The Delicious History of Pad Thai

The Delicious History of Pad Thai

This past Tuesday was National Pad Thai Day, celebrating one of the most popular dishes to come from the country formerly known as Siam.

This past Tuesday was National Pad Thai Day, celebrating one of the most popular dishes to come from the country formerly known as Siam. But how much do you know about pad Thai? When you go to a Thai restaurant, this noodle dish might your first order as an entree into the broader delicacies of Thai cuisine. Learn more about this icon of Thailand, including where it came from, and why it has its name.

The Backstory of Pad Thai

Surprising as it may be, pad thai owes its existence to Chinese cuisine. Unlike the many traditional dishes present in Thai, Chinese, and other Asian cuisines, pad thai is still relatively young. It was first introduced in 1932 after a national revolution overthrew the existing kingdom and created a more democratic government under a constitutional monarchy system instead. The acting Prime Minister of the time, Plaek Phibunsongkhram (better known just as Phibun) wanted to find the best noodle dish to represent Thailand’s new identity.

It Might Not Actually be Thai

What is pad thai? Here is what you’ll see on your next plate:

 

  • Rice noodles
  • Radishes
  • Beansprouts
  • Eggs

 

Believe it or not, this dish might not be one-hundred-percent authentic to Thailand. The technique used to cook the noodles, stir-frying, comes from China. These rice noodles are also almost identical to the same noodles found in Vietnamese pho. This uncanny resemblance is unsurprising since the rice noodles are sourced from an eastern province called Chanthaburi, which is close to Vietnam and Cambodia. At the time pad thai was first created, rice was the staple crop across the entire country. But eating pad thai became known as an act of patriotism – since the country was in the depths of the Depression and rice was more valuable an export and a way to improve the nation’s financial situation.

Where To Find The Tastiest Versions

Are you interested in visiting Thailand? You’ll find some of the tastiest versions of pad Thai in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. If you reach Phra Nakom, one of Bangkok’s oldest neighborhoods, you can find the most well-known vendor, Pad Thai Thipsamai. It is one of the most popular spots in the entire city, but this dish is so widespread you can find it almost anywhere you go.

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