This is the Thai go-to dish, one of the simplest things a Thai can prepare and one of the cheapest a budget traveler can buy.
But I remember a few months ago a US-based friend of mine had bemoaned her current pad thai recipe and although I've eaten plenty of the stuff, I never really paid attention to how it was different from Chinese-style fried noodles.
She does all of the cooking for her food stall, "Food Corner" in a big wok resting on a single propane burner.
First in the wok for pad thai goes a dollop of peanut oil to grease the bottom of the pan. Then, she sprinkles in some thin slices of chicken and agitates it in the heating oil until the meat is white on both sides. Then she breaks an egg into it and using a spatula whisks it around with the chicken.
Next, she adds some water--it looks like about a cup and a half--and throws in a handful of dried rice noodles. She uses the thin, flat ones, but explains that I can use thicker ones or round ones.
The water sizzles in the oil and the white strands of noodle go limp in the middle and change color through the steam.
Now it's time for the flavoring.
The noodles have all succumbed to the heat and moisture, but still seem springy in the pan.
She turns off the heat and folds in a handful each of bean sprouts and grated carrot.
While the flavors merge, she cuts a slice of lime and a few pieces of cucumber. You can add more vegetables if you want, she says, shrugging.
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