Image by Marshall Astor - Food Pornographer via Flickr
Across Thailand, there is an array of street food vendors offering everything you could imagine and more. Street vending in Thailand was originally established by Chinese immigrants in Bangkok seeking a vehicle for upward economic mobility during the second half of the 19th century. The decrease in value of rice world-wide after World War I prompted rural Thais to move to Bangkok, resulting in more Thai street food vendors. Thais typically eat many small meals a day, and prefer to meet with friends outside of the home. Street food vending offers a cheaper alternative to formal restaurants and small portions suited for nibblers. As a consequence, street vending rapidly expanded over the past 60 years to make it a hallmark of Thai culture.
Pad Thai is perhaps the most well-known Thai dish in the Western world.
Image by notashamed via FlickrWhile the name literally means Thai-style fried noodles and is sometimes referred to as “the national dish of Thailand,” the truth is that this dish isn’t entirely of Thai origin. The process of making rice noodles was imported to Southeast Asia from China and the method for preparing and the style of noodles used (banh pho) were Vietnamese. The dish was popularized in Thailand by former Prime Minister Luang Pibulsonggram around World War II in an effort to reduce the country’s rice consumption.
Image via Wikipedia
While not commonly prepared in Thai home kitchens, Phad Thai can be found throughout Thailand at a number of street vendor stalls. In Thailand, pad Thai is served relatively dry with less oil and sauce. It is seasoned with tamarind juice and red chilli pepper and typically garnished with cilantro, bean sprouts and peanuts.
What sets this dish apart from its competitors is the enticing aromas that fill the air. Shallots, garlic, and peppers lure in patrons who patiently linger with their mouths watering.
READ OUR FORUM STORY ON PANG LOI (STREET DENDOR FOOOD)