Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Dish: Pad Thai

In my mind Pad Thai is to Thai food what Chicken Parmigiana is to Italian food. A hearty classic that Americans seem to associate as the go to dish for that cuisine. Many people will say things like, I love Thai food, and then when asked what their favorite dish is, will say "Pad Thai from xyz restaurant". And I have to say there's very few things to not like about Pad Thai, although I wish more people would try other dishes in Thai restaurant, they have amazing and diverse flavors. Pad Thai is one of those few dishes that you almost never would try making at home because of the numerous ingredients and difficult harmonious balance between the 4 S's, salty, sweet, sour and spicy. Your standard pad Thai has chicken, sometimes shrimp, cured tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, noodles, scallions, eggs, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and lime juice. Most places will ask you how spicy you want it, and add hot pepper flakes to accommodate. The better Thai places will use chili's instead of the pepper flakes, or even a chili oil to cook the food in, but the latter is rare and also delicious. A good pad Thai is not greasy, and all the flavors meld into one so that on any given bite you can taste the citrus of the lime, the spiciness of the hot sauce or chili, the tender chicken, the saltiness of the fish sauce, and the sweetness of the egg. Not to mention the nice crunch and texture you get from the bean sprouts and the scallions, which add yet another dimension to the dish. Some of the best I've had are from Why Curry, Sea, Holy Basil and Peep. One of the worst I've ever had, shockingly, came from a chain, Kai Kai.

Learn more about why Thai Food is so amazing!

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