If you think you've had authentic Pad Thai at your local Thai takeout joint, you'd be surprised to hear that American versions of the dish don't even come close to the real thing. Unless you’ve spent ample time in Bangkok, you’ve probably been misled about Thailand’s most famous dish. And no, that's not just because cheap Pad Thai in America tends to have the consistency of ketchup. In Bangkok, a truly classic Pad Thai doesn't look like a noodle dish at all; it's actually an omelet.
Here's how it's done: The mixture of noodles, spring onions, tofu, and dried shrimp are tossed in a super-hot wok with a little tamarind chili sauce and palm sugar before moving to a new wok coated in a thin, crepe-like layer of egg. The edges are browned before being carefully folded over. The omelet is garnished with crushed peanuts, a smattering of crunchy bean sprouts and a wedge of lime.
He also adds that Pad Thai in Thailand never features poultry. It’s only tofu, dried shrimp and in nicer establishments, a few fresh steamed prawns too. Chicken is for the tourists.
“If the noodle is too soft, it’s not good either,” Tassanakajohn continues. “It needs to be a bit chewy for texture. The softness should come from the egg.”
If you want the most famous in Bangkok, though, you head to Thip Samai. Mrs. Samai opened her Pad Thai place in 1966, and it’s since become globally famous for the egg-wrapped original (pictured below). While you’ll definitely get that Walt-Disney-Does-Thailand feeling here—as tourists heft iPhones and wait in lines that stretch more than an hour down the road—the show is half the fun. The kitchen is on the sidewalk, with smoking woks perfuming wafts of hot fat and oil. The eggs fry instantly, and scoops of tamarind-coated noodles bearing bright green slices of onion and a quick squeeze of lime are nestled into a pocket with astonishing speed. In the din of cracking eggs and rapid-fire assembly, waiters carry four plates per arm into the restaurant where hundreds of people a day dig into their first experience of a really, truly authentic Pad Thai.
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