Thai cuisine is known for its bold flavors and use of fresh ingredients. When dining at a Thai restaurant, you may come across two popular noodle dishes: Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao. While they may appear similar at first glance, there are distinct differences that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao, and why it’s important to understand these differences when ordering at a Thai restaurant.
Similarities between Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao
Before diving into the differences, let’s first take a look at what these two dishes have in common.
Use of wide or thin, flat rice noodles
Both Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao use rice noodles, which are available in either wide or thin varieties. These noodles are typically stir-fried over high heat to achieve a slightly crispy texture.
Common ingredients: soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, garlic, white pepper
The seasoning for both dishes typically includes a combination of soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and white pepper. These ingredients add depth and complexity to the dishes, as well as a touch of sweetness.
Seasoned with dark soy sauce and oyster sauce
Another common element is the use of dark soy sauce and oyster sauce for seasoning. These sauces add richness and umami flavor to the dishes, which complement the other ingredients.
Served with sweet and sour chili on the side
Both Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao are often served with a side of sweet and sour chili sauce. This sauce provides a tangy contrast to the savory flavors of the noodles, as well as a bit of heat for those who enjoy spicy food.
Choice of protein: chicken, shrimp, or tofu
Finally, both dishes offer a choice of protein, typically chicken, shrimp, or tofu. This allows for some customization based on personal preferences or dietary restrictions.
Differences between Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao
Now that we’ve covered the similarities, let’s take a closer look at what sets Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao apart.
Perhaps the most significant difference between these two dishes is the sauce. Pad See Ew uses a simple seasoning of soy sauce and sugar, while Pad Kee Mao incorporates oyster sauce for a sweeter, richer flavor. The addition of oyster sauce gives Pad Kee Mao a more intense flavor profile compared to Pad See Ew.
Another difference is in the use of vegetables. Pad Kee Mao typically includes more vegetables than Pad See Ew, such as bell peppers, onions, and Thai basil. These vegetables add texture and freshness to the dish, as well as additional nutrients.
The type of rice noodles used in each dish also sets them apart. Pad See Ew is made with wide rice noodles, which have a soft, chewy texture. Pad Kee Mao, on the other hand, uses thin rice noodles, which are slightly firmer and more delicate.
While both dishes offer a choice of protein, the most commonly used proteins differ between the two. Pad See Ew is typically made with chicken, shrimp, or beef, while Pad Kee Mao is usually made with chicken, pork, or tofu. This difference in protein choice can also impact the overall flavor and texture of the dish. Beef, for example, can add a slightly more savory flavor to Pad See Ew, while pork can add a richer flavor to Pad Kee Mao.
Finally, the overall flavor of the two dishes differs. Pad See Ew has a savory taste with a slightly sweet undertone, while Pad Kee Mao is sweeter and saltier with a more intense flavor. This is largely due to the addition of oyster sauce in Pad Kee Mao, which gives the dish its distinct sweet and salty flavor profile.
Why It’s Important to Understand the Differences
When ordering at a Thai restaurant, it’s important to understand the differences between Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao. While they may appear similar, the differences in flavor, sauce, and other ingredients can significantly impact your dining experience.
If you prefer a sweeter, more intense flavor, Pad Kee Mao may be the better choice for you. However, if you prefer a more savory taste with a touch of sweetness, Pad See Ew may be the way to go. Knowing your own preferences and understanding the differences between the two dishes can help you make an informed decision when ordering.
Additionally, if you have dietary restrictions or preferences, understanding the differences between the two dishes can help you choose the option that best suits your needs. For example, if you don’t eat pork, Pad See Ew may be a better option for you than Pad Kee Mao, which is typically made with pork.
Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao are two popular Thai noodle dishes that offer unique flavor profiles and ingredient combinations. While they share some similarities, such as the use of rice noodles and common seasoning ingredients, there are distinct differences in sauce, vegetables, protein, and overall flavor.
Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision when ordering at a Thai restaurant and ensure that you enjoy your meal to the fullest. So why not try both dishes and appreciate the unique flavors that they have to offer?