Thailand’s best known and beloved noodle dish, Pad Thai combines cooked rice noodles, Tofu, shrimp, crushed peanuts, Nam Pla, bean sprouts, garlic, chilies and eggs, all stir-fried together. Pad Thai is commonly served as a street food and at casual local eateries in Thailand. It is made with soaked dried rice noodles.
A dish of stir-fried rice noodles is thought by some to have been introduced to Ayutthaya during the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom by Chinese traders, and subsequently altered to reflect Thai flavor profiles. Others believe that the dish is of Vietnamese origin, and the etymology of the dish’s name suggests it.
During World War II, Thailand suffered a rice shortage due to the war and floods. To reduce domestic rice consumption, the Thai government under prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram promoted people to eat noodle instead. Meanwhile, wheat noodles were very popular in Thailand, Phibunsongkhram supported the change of name of the country from Siam to Thailand and Thai nationalism. He sought to eliminate Chinese influence. His government promoted rice noodles and helped to establish the identity of Thailand. As a result, a new noodle named sen chan was created. Pad thai has since become one of Thailand’s national dishes.