CuisinePosted on 05.03.2019

The History of Pad Thai

Ah, Pad Thai – an iconic Thai dish that is known to many around the world. In fact, if you ask most people what their favourite Thai dish is they would more times than not probably say Pad Thai. And who could blame them?! Such perfect aromatic falvours paired with a little kick of spice. It’s a perfect heartwarming dish that is easily one of our top orders – especially on this chilly autumn nights. 

So we’re all in agreement – Pad Thai is awesome. But, do you know how or where this dish originated? Okay, you probably guessed it originated in Thailand – clever clogs. What else do you know about this incredibly popular dish? *crickets* Just as we thought; so with that in mind, we want to take you on a little trip to discover the history of this dish!

The Dish

Before we jump into the history of this popular dish it makes sense for us to take you through the dish if you’re not familiar. Be warned, you may feel the urge to order this on Just Eat dish immediately after reading. Pad Thai is made with rice noodles (serving as the base of this dish), paired with tofu or choice of meat. Flavoured with tamarind, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, red chili pepper, and palm sugar. Additionally, lime wedges and chopped roasted peanuts are used to top off the dish bringing a mix of textures and flavours to the dish – very typical for Thai cuisine.

Where It All Started

So some of the details are a little hazy but the story goes that in 1938 the Minister of Defence concerned about colonisation attempts in surrounding Asian countries decided to have a national contest to create a national dish. Using local ingredients and flavours. The winning entry was Pad Thai – but the contest was more about unifying the people of Thailand and modernising their outlook on the world while also moving away from Chinas influence. That’s a pretty big ask from a bowl of noodles – but it worked!

The Patriotic Act of Eating

A notable change for the contest was the exclusive use of local ingredients only. Sen chan rice noodles were used to make this dish – a conscious step away from wheat noodles which were a popular Chinese choice in many dishes at the time. It was also said to be a nudge to get Thai people to stop eating so much rice as their primary base food so remaining rice stock could be exported to help the struggling country out of its economic crisis. Thus eating Pad Thai becoming something of a patriotic act.

Pad Thai Going International

But how did this dish go from a national gem to becoming a global Thai favourite we hear you ask? Well, Thailand consciously made an effort to globalise Thai cuisine! Their Board of Tourism launched a campaign fifteen years ago to establish Thai cuisine around the world. It’s certainly proved effective – Thai cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines around the world and along with Pad Thai it has countless other dishes that are well known for their aromatic, contrasting flavours.

Food really does bring people together – and sometimes countries too! It’s really a fascinating story, so the next time you order Pad Thai on Just Eat you tell your family and friends all about how eating Pad Thai is a patricotic act in solidarity with the people of Thailand.