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The most requested recipe here and in every Thai restaurant is Pad Thai. This dish originated with the ethnic Chinese noodle carts of Bangkok and the name simply means "Thai-style stir-fried noodles". Noodles became popular with the influx of South China immigrants after World War II in various areas of Southeast Asia.
In an effort to stimulate the local Thai economy Field Marshall Plaek Phibul Songkhram, shortly after the end of WWII, encouraged the rice noodle shops to stimulate the economy. The ethnic Chinese having an entrepreneurial spirit quickly learned that local Thai cuisine consisted of hot, sour, sweet and salty flavors, and incorporated these tastes in their stir-fried noodle dishes. Being near the sea the abundance of shrimp leads them to add these to the noodles.
The ethnic Chinese gave these noodles a fusion type of name Pad Thai meaning "Thai-style stir-fried noodles".
There are as many ways to make Pad Thai as there are cooks! The balance of salty-sweet-hot can be achieved with various ingredients. Some American restaurants even use tomato catsup which appeals to the American palate. I happen to not like this version, but to many that is their Pad Thai taste. I have eaten Pad Thai with Sriracha bottled chile sauce being used for the heat instead of the ground roasted dried chiles.
To achieve this salty-sweet-spicy taste you can use vinegar and sugar in place of the tamarind and date palm sugar. You also can use sweet black soy sauce plus sugar and ground dried chiles and give the Pad Thai a dark colour and have a different flavour balance than most Americans have tasted, but it is a traditional Thai Street Food.
I have also served Pad Thai wrapped in a lacey egg omelet covering. This is done by dribbling the beaten eggs from a squeeze bottle onto a non-stick pan to form a lacey pattern
I have eaten Pad Thai noodles here in US restaurants that are gooey and gummy which is awful to me. This recipe is for a chewy rice noodle, never mushy, but if you prefer the mushy rice noodles boil them for a few minutes instead of just soaking in hot water.
Pad Thai Bangkok Street Food Style
The most popular of all Thai dishes is a delight to the taste buds-sour, sweet, salty, spicy-perfect comfort food for any occasion.
My favourite Thai noodle dish is Drunken Noodles (Gkuay Dtiow Pad Kee Mao)which are a favourite late night or early morning meal after a night of drinking:
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Mary-Anne Durkee, Thai Food Editor
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