Gateway Dishes: Pad Thai

Gateway Dishes: Pad Thai

Thai street food at home

Welcome to Gateway Dishes, our series on easy and iconic dishes that (we hope) will open the door to explore new cuisines. You’ve probably eaten all of these in restaurants, but you just haven’t tried cooking them at home. Pad thai is the ubiquitous Bangkok street food that will start you cooking with Thai flavors.

First thing you should know: Pad thai does not contain ketchup. It’s not the sticky, cloying noodle dish that many Americans have grown up with. In Thailand, it’s street food, brought over by the Chinese and adapted with the distinctive Thai accents of salty (from fish sauce), sweet (palm sugar), sour (tamarind), and spicy (chiles). It’s a nuanced dish, complex in flavor yet quick to put together as long as you have the ingredients in your pantry. We’ll walk you through the recipe that will introduce you to the delights of Thai food, the ingredients you should have on hand, and the cookbooks that will take you further.

A Gateway Dish is an easy entrance, a slippery slope. It’s one recipe that exemplifies some of the flavors, techniques, and history of a cuisine, and opens doors to new ideas and new discoveries, from the Basque Country to Laos to Veracruz.