Thai food is amongst some of the most popular in today’s world. The food features incredibly vibrant and fresh flavors that delight the palate with exotic and satisfying style.
This is how the food has managed to become so popular, thanks to its use of natural ingredients, simple cooking methods, and rustic and down-to-earth flavors.
One of the national dishes of Thailand is the famous Pad Thai. This is a stir-fried dish that is most commonly associated with the street food scene in the country.
It contains an incredible mix of bean sprouts, rice, noodles, shrimp, and peanuts. This leads to an incredibly healthy and deeply satisfying dish that is unsurprisingly a world favorite.
But what does the word ‘Pad’ in Thai food actually mean?
Does it have a direct translation, and does it have any special or sentimental meaning to the people of Thailand?
Surprisingly, this is a question that gets asked a lot, so you aren’t alone in your curiosity. Let’s find out once and for all exactly what ‘Pad’ actually means and why it is used in the names of so many Thai food dishes.
What Does Pad In Thai Food Mean?
The ‘Pad’ in Thai food simply refers to the act of frying. Thus, it is appropriate that Thailand’s national dish, the Pad Thai, is a stir-fried dish!
Pad in this case doesn’t necessarily refer to the usual meaning of ‘Fried’, and instead refers to lightly pan-frying foods in a wok or a large frying pan to create fresh but also hot and fiery food.
What Is a Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is arguably Thailand’s most popular dish, both on Thai shores and overseas. This is because the dish is incredibly simple and easy to make but has an incredible taste and texture.
The taste of Pad Thai is a perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors that weave a complex dance across the tongue.
The saltiness from the shrimp and the nuts give the dish that satisfying savory kick that makes it a perfect dinner dish, while the sweet sauce and the bean sprouts give it a slightly sweet hint.
As well as this, the dish is also very fresh and refreshing, thanks to the natural ingredients used within the recipe and how little processing there is involved with adding them to the dish.
The dish is also very healthy despite being so filling and satisfying, which makes it great for those that want a bit of excitement from their food but also want to keep an eye on their figure.
In terms of texture, Pad Thai offers a great wealth of exciting textures to delight your mouth. There’s a great blend of crunchy and soft ingredients within the dish that makes every single bite exciting and satisfying.
The slight resistance of the crushed peanuts and the crispy texture of the bean sprouts give the dish a nice sense of wholesomeness and help to make it taste even more healthy than it already is.
The noodles and the rice, by contrast, have a more soft and slightly chewy texture that makes them easy to swallow down quickly, and helps to make the dish easy to eat.
This is perhaps why it is so commonly served by street vendors since the dish can easily be eaten on the move, or quickly eaten sitting down. There’s no complexity involved in eating or prepping the dish at any step of the way!
Are There Any Other Thai Dishes With Pad in the Name?
Thai food has an incredible wealth of options and flavors just waiting for you to experience them.
Many of them, similar to the Pad Thai, are fried, and this is why they have ‘Pad’ towards the front of their names. Some of these dishes include such things as Pad mama. ‘Pad Mama’ refers to a stir fry dish made up of noodles.
The noodles used to make this dish are actually from the very popular Thai instant noodles brand. This dish helps to give otherwise bland instant noodles a whole new lease of life and an incredible and unmatched flavor.
Another ‘Pad’ dish is the Pad Si-io.
This dish is another stir-fried favorite that is popular at street vendors. The dish makes use of meats, such as chicken or pork, which is fried with rice noodles and a soy sauce. Soy sauce is actually where the dish derives its name from.
Mixing the ingredients with soy sauce helps to give the dish an incredibly rich and savory taste that is satisfying to the palette, and can be quite addicting!
If you’ve never tried the Pad Si-io before, you owe it to yourself to try this smoky and satisfying flavor.
There is also the popular Pad Wun Sen. Pad Wun Sen is a dish consisting of glass noodles that are stir-fried carefully with eggs and a variety of vegetables.
Meat and seafood are very often added to the recipe, but they can be enjoyed entirely as a vegetarian dish. This dish is incredibly filling and tastes simply amazing, with its rich flavor palette that is simply incomparable.
Once again, the dish is very healthy to eat, thanks to the simple cooking method and the all fresh ingredients used. It not only tastes good, but it also does a lot of good too!
So there we have it.
‘Pad’, in Thai food, refers to the act of frying. It’s no surprise that there is a commonly associated word with many of Thailand’s most popular dishes, as many are made with the stir-frying method.
This deceptively simple method helps to draw out the incredible flavors of every ingredient while also keeping the ingredients fresh. This also makes ‘Pad’ dishes far more healthy, thanks to their use of fresh ingredients.
If you’ve yet to try a ‘Pad’ dish for yourself, why not give it a go?
Its simple flavors and incredible mix of textures are sure to delight people of any age or taste, and it is incredibly healthy and easy to make to boot, so there’s no need to wrestle with any unknown ingredients.
All you need is a pan and some basic ingredients!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pad Thai Really Bad For You?
Although Pad Thai dishes tend to be incredibly healthy, and employ the use of only healthy ingredients, ordering the dish at certain restaurants could see you eating a dish with a very high calorific content.
Very often, Pad Thai dishes are cooked with plenty of oil, which can prove unhealthy for the heart if consumed in excessive amounts.
However, none of the ingredients used within the dish are unhealthy in isolation, and the dish can easily be enjoyed as part of an otherwise healthy diet, especially if not eaten in excess.
Is Thai Food Unhealthy?
Thai food in general actually tends to be very healthy, thanks to its use of plenty of vegetables which are only cooked lightly to draw out flavors while still keeping the ingredients fresh and full of those vital nutrients.
Where potential unhealthiness comes in is with the carb content. Many Thai dishes employ rice or noodles, which are perfectly healthy in moderation but can lead to intense weight gain if eaten too frequently.
Thai food often also has a lot of salt, so it can be unhealthy in that regard.
What Makes Thai Food Different?
Thai food is able to stand out from the many cuisines across the world thanks to its frequent use of fresh and vibrant flavors. The cuisine makes use of plenty of vegetables and spices which create explosive flavors that aren’t overbearing or too spicy.
These flavors are largely very satisfying and often come in great combinations. Many dishes feature both savory and sweet flavors in an exciting blend that will delight the palate of anyone who tastes it.
Thai food definitely has to be tasted to be understood fully.