Since this month is all about what you cook at home instead of ordering take-out, today we’re focusing on translating one popular take-out dish into the home kitchen. Raise your hand if you’ve ever called out for pad thai more than once in a week. Yeah, us too.
Read more: Enter our #DIYtakeout contest here!
Here’s the thing about pad thai: in Thailand, it’s a much more versatile, simple dish than we’d imagine. The pad thai cartons at many Thai restaurants contain a bundle of stir-fried noodles that tastes pretty similar from one to the next. There’s a note of sweetness, richness from oil, and usually a balancing taste of tartness from lemon or lime. Many restaurant versions also contain fish sauce, a classic element of Thai flavors.
In fact, the dish is actually of Chinese origin, but became popular in Thailand in 1939 when the Prime Minister tried to unify the country with a dish that made use of foods grown by Thai farmers: thus the global popularity of pad thai. But back in Thailand, you’re more likely to find variation in the stir-fried noodles you pick up from roadside stalls. The noodles are usually cooked in pork fat and aren’t necessarily adorned with all that many add-ins, though each cook may customize her dish with chicken or vegetables–and each eater with her choice in condiments, like peanuts, chili peppers, fish sauce, or sugar, which are set out in little bowls on every table.
And so we take creative license with pad thai when we make it, including anything from sambal oelek, a popular Asian chili paste to peanut sauce to baby tatsoi. How do you like your pad thai? Tell us in the comments!