Shrimp Pad Thai Noodles Recipe: A Popular but Forgotten Dish! So, I am Chinese born, live in the US, but would you believe it, my first language was Thai? I am sure you are asking the question, “Well how did that happen?”
The story goes, that after being born in China, I moved to Thailand—at the age of two—and lived there for eight years. Thus, my nostalgic memories of my childhood are infused with all things Thai/Thailand.
Yet my memory does seem to be selective, in its own right. Some of the Thai language has escaped me, and some of those childhood memories seem to have odd gaps.
What I do remember is Thailand as it was then, and for the most part still is today; an endless sea of cars and motorcycles, honking of car horns, and barking of dogs. In Bangkok, where I lived, there were the silhouettes of Pagodas set against the background of a cityscape horizon.
The Thai people were always so kind, and always greeted me with a smile. It was four seasons of sun, and most all had a dark-tan complexions, and dressed in light colored flower patterned clothing.
They walked with an even pace with many colorful billboards and signs one visual rung up from the pedestrial view. The weather was sunny, but unbearably hot, like a sauna room round the year.
And there were also food carts selling a variety of Thai food on most every block and most every street corner. One could find tropical fresh fruit, skewered meat and fish balls, papaya salad, noodle soup, grilled chicken with sticky rice.
Oddly enough, what I don’t remember is seeing or eating any Pad Thai.
At the age of eight, I would eventually move here to New York City—who could live anywhere else? And amidst the massive scope of a multitude of cultural cuisines, Thai cuisine was a New York City staple, and with it one of the favorites of Thai cuisine, Pad Thai.
This would be my first remembrance of the dish. Most all of us order or have ordered it and since I don’t recall seeing Pad Thai in Thailand when I was a child, it made me wonder, is it really authentic Thai food, or is it American Thai food—an Americanization of Thai cuisine. Or is it that I was just forgetful in my mind on this specific memory?
So, what is Pad Thai? Well, Pad Thai generally consists of rice noodles, eggs, brown tofu, leeks, peanuts, and bean sprouts. It is flavored with tamarind, plum sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, and red chili pepper, and served with shrimp, chicken, or beef. The ideal Pad Thai has a balance of sweet, sour, and salt in its composition.
Continuing on my quest for clarity on Pad Thai and its origins, I went to see my friend Jack Wachara Nittayarot.
Jack is the owner of two Thai restaurants in New York City: Thai Soup on the Upper East Side and Tom & Yum on the Upper West Side.
According to many Thai mothers, Jack has a very typical Thai celebrity look, and is well liked and recognized in the community here. To me, Jack is a great friend, and a true gentleman who loves food and wants to promote Thai food and culture to the locals.
I asked Jack, “Is Pad Thai really an authentic Thai food or is it an American Thai dish?” Jack confirmed, “Pad Thai is an authentic Thai dish.” Not only is it an authentic Thai dish, but it is also recognized as one of Thailand’s national dishes. It has been one of the most popular street foods since World War II and is sold it in every night market.
So it is true Thai cusine. Maybe I had it many, many times during my childhood years and/or I was too young to remember. Maybe it’s like my Thai language skills… forgotten because of a lack of use. Or much like a forgotten language which begins to be used and remembered again, maybe my Thai Pad memories will all come back if we prepare and cook the entree.
Let’s give it a try, and learn to make Pad Thai with Jack Wachara Nittayarot from Thai Soup! FOR THE FULL RECIPE PLEASE CLICK
Let’s stay in touch!
Special Thanks to Jack Wachara Nittayarot of Thai Soup
166 E 118th St, Ste A
New York, NY 10035