Sean Jansen, Travel Columnist
What is it that you think of when the word traveling comes to mind? Is it adventure? Relaxation? Culture? All true and all different. And rightfully so, considering the variations of each country and what they all have to offer. Variation attracts all of us to leave our homes and go either right out our front door, or to go halfway around the globe for our own reasons. I have found the desire personally to go to places for adventure, relaxation, or both. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered my desire to travel based solely off of food and the cuisine a country has to offer.
I have been blessed with the ability to travel to the countries I have, and been able to experience the variety that they all offer. But it wouldn’t be until I got home that I would actually really appreciated the countries for what they were worth, appreciated them more than what Lonely Planet guidebooks tell you or what tourist attractions they have. I began to have an appreciation for the cuisine of the places I went to, but wanted to be able to also eat their food from the comfort of my home in the U.S.
So far I have been blessed with the gift of seeing 27 countries on five of the seven continents that our planet has to offer, all of which are vastly different, and they all have their own flair when it comes to cuisine and their so-called, “national dish.” But there is one country that stands out above them all: Thailand. Thailand may not have the best cuisine overall, but it certainly has the single-greatest dish that I had ever had. And that dish is the Pad Thai.
Pad Thai is a noodle-based dish with a variety and flavor that can make anyone from anywhere in the world go “mmmmmmmmm” after indulging in a bite. On the streets of Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok, you can find street vendors who have turned their bicycles into mobile grills. They can fry you up some of this epic Pad Thai for the equivalent of about two U.S. dollars. It is a spicy noodle heaven, which also has this amazing aftertaste of sweetness from the peanuts that are blended in with the noodles.
The ingredients for it are as follows:
Pad Thai rice noodles
10-12 raw shrimp (shells removed)
1.5 Tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 cloves of garlic
1-2 fresh chilies
1 tsp. ginger
4 green onions
2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
So long story short, for those of us who can’t afford a plane ticket to Bangkok (I can’t anymore), you can make it at home. Of course, nothing will beat the goodness from the streets of Bangkok, but I personally know that I have seen this dish in restaurants in Humboldt County, and I know that you can buy the ingredients at all of the grocery stores. So if you are feeling the need to try something new and get a blast of flavor from spicy to sweet all in the same dish, then look no further than the Pad Thai. My mouth is even watering as I write this piece, wanting some of this delicious Thailand goodness.