Today is November 7, y’all! For people who love all things Thai, and for people like me who have made it their mission to feed souls through Thai food and culture, today means only one thing—it’s National Pad Thai Day! Today is the day we celebrate everything that’s good about pad Thai, Thailand’s national dish.
Why even celebrate National Pad Thai Day, you may ask. To answer that, I give you these three reasons.
Reason #1: It’s quintessentially Thai.
If you’ve ever tried Thai food at least once before, then you’d know that it’s deceptively simple yet so layered in flavor. Pad Thai isn’t any different. When you order this dish from any Thai restaurant (or any street stall in Bangkok, for that matter), you’d have a plate full of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs and proteins like tofu, shrimp, and chicken. These noodles will be dressed in a sauce concocted from tamarind juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, red chilies, garlic, and shallots. The dish will have peanuts and bean sprouts, and other fresh veggies on the side.
At first glance, pad Thai will look like a simple noodle dish. But once you taste it, your tastebuds will sense the quintessential flavors present in most Thai dishes—salty, sweet, sour, and spicy—all layered together. You’ll also sense the love that Thai people have for fresh ingredients in their food.
Reason #2: It embodies the Thai national spirit.
Many people outside of Thailand think that pad Thai is a centuries-old recipe handed down from grandmother to granddaughter. If that’s what you believe, here’s a surprise for you: pad Thai is actually a 20th-century invention. The recipe was created as a way to strengthen the Thai national and cultural spirit.
In the 1930s, Thailand (then known as Siam) had a prime minister named Plaek Phibunsongkhram or Phibun for short. Phibun wanted the country to have a strong and independent national identity and launched a cultural revolution. Among the things Phibun did was to change the country’s name from Siam to Thailand. Another is to hold a contest for the country’s new national dish.
Pad Thai was chosen because, while it can’t escape foreign influences, it remains distinctively Thai. Stir-fried noodles may be a Chinese culinary invention. However, the ingredients used for pad Thai are grown locally. More importantly, its flavors perfectly suit Thai tastes.
Phibun promoted pad Thai actively throughout the country. It became so popular that it became the representation of Thai cuisine locally and around the world. It has also become a symbol of Thai ingenuity and resilience. You’ll find an abundance of street stalls in Bangkok selling pad Thai. Restaurants serving Thai food will always have this dish on their menu.
Reason #3: It’s absolutely delish.
I’m pretty sure that once you’ve tasted authentic pad Thai, you’re going to crave it more and more. And why not? Its complex flavors can make your tastebuds tingle. Its mix of soft, slurpy, and crunchy textures can feel delightful. All these things make pad Thai an absolutely delicious dish.
Plus, it’s a complete and healthy meal on its own. In a single plateful, you’ll have carbs in noodles, your choice of protein, and a heap of veggies and greens. You can even customize the dish according to your needs. If your diet calls for it, you can use low-carb noodles (or even no noodles). You can make it vegan or vegetarian by using tofu and egg substitutes for protein. If you have a peanut allergy, you can skip the peanuts altogether. Pad Thai is also naturally gluten-free because it uses noodles made of rice.
Pad Thai is totally a dish you can indulge in. It will really feed your soul.
3 ways you can celebrate National Pad Thai Day
Now that you know why we should celebrate National Pad Thai Day, the question now is this: How should we celebrate it? I have three suggestions:
1. If you’re in the Dallas area, you can dine on pad Thai at my Asian Mint restaurants. We serve four different versions of pad Thai.
2. If you’re in the Dallas area and you prefer to dine at home, you can order pad Thai from Asian Mint online. It’s available for curbside pickup or delivery.
3. If you want to try your hand at making pad Thai at home, Asian Mint has an easy-to-cook pad Thai ChefMint kit. I also have pad Thai sauce available at my online shop: https://bit.ly/2TKUiV2
Happy National Pad Thai Day, y’all!