My passion for cooking has led me to take a particular interest in Asian food, as well as national dishes from across the world. On my Instagram account focusing on food (@myfoodeducation), I recently cooked a massively popular dish from Thailand, so popular in fact that it is often described as Thailand’s national dish, which considering the standard of Thai food, is an incredible compliment. So, here are my five reasons to cook Pad Thai. I hope this inspires you to try cooking this truly amazing dish for yourself. Trust me – it will not disappoint.
1 – It’s Flavoursome
Despite the simple and small amounts of ingredients, this dish is a real celebration of Thai and East-Asian food. The sour flavour of the Tamarind and fish sauce complements the egg and sweet prawns, and the noodles absorb the flavours to create a perfectly balanced dish. The garnish, consisting of spring onions, peanuts and lime creates a sharp, fresh flavour and a wonderfully crunchy texture. Overall, the flavours, if got right, perfectly combine to form an irresistible dish.
2 – The perfect quick and easy midweek meal
Pad Thai is a perfect meal for a weeknight, when time is of the essence and in short supply, as it only takes a maximum of 20 minutes to prepare and cook. The ingredients are also easy to use, as it is perfectly fine to use microwaveable noodles and substitute prawns for chicken strips, if prawns are not readily available. Many of the vegetable ingredients can also be substituted, with beansprouts being used in the place of sugar snap peas.
3 – A chance to explore Thailand’s amazing cuisine
Pad Thai is an amazing way to dive deeper into Thailand’s political and social history, as it is described as the “Dish of the People”. Pad Thai is on the menu of every restaurant that caters to foreigners, as the Thais regard it so highly they use it as an advert for tourists to eat at their restaurants. The interesting backstory of this dish could lead you, the reader, to want to research the histories of more of Thailand’s dishes, because there are amazing stories surrounding each and every dish, for example, red, green, and Panang style curries.
4 – An opportunity to explore Thailand’s social and political views.
Pad Thai was created in the 1930s by Plaek Phibunsongkhram, who was the Thai prime minister at the time. The dish was created because Thailand was focused on nation building, so he created this in order to boost national morale.
5 – It’s Healthy
This dish is very nutritious, for all of the health lovers among you. It contains high levels of carbs and proteins, from the noodles and eggs and prawns respectively. There are also excellent amounts of vitamins and minerals in the vegetables of this dish, making it an excellent healthy alternative to many Asian recipes. It is very low in fat, so it is a good choice for a lean, low-fat, low-cost meal.
Try the ‘Jennings’ Recipe
250g pack medium rice noodles
2 tsp tamarind paste
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove
3 spring onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
200g pack of large cooked prawns
A handful salted peanuts, chopped to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
- If using dried noodles, bring a kettle of water to the boil and cook the noodles in the water for 5-10 minutes, or until soft. if using pre-cooked noodles, stir fry for two minutes in a small frying pan, then set aside.
- Combine the tamarind paste, sugar and fish sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
- Chop the peeled garlic finely, then trim and chop the spring onions into 1cm strips.
- Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. when the pan is very hot, add the oil and swirl it to cover the pan fully, then add the garlic and spring onions. Toss the vegetables in the wok for 30 seconds.
- Move all of the veg to the sides of the pan, then crack the egg into the centre of the pan and stir for 30 seconds, until it resembles scrambled eggs.
- Combine the veg and egg, and add the prawns and beansprouts, and this is the perfect time to add and extra ingredients of your choice. Add the noodles and stir thoroughly. Finally, pour over the fish sauce mixture and stir thoroughly, so that all of the flavours combine,
- Spoon out onto plates, and serve with crushed peanuts and a squeeze of lime, if wanted.
By Peter Jennings (Year 10).
Images courtesy of Alyssa Kowalski, Gareth Harrison, and Matthew Schwart @unsplash.com