What is khao pad?
Khao pad (pronounced “kow pat”) literally means “stir-fried rice”. This simple rice dish usually contains garlic, egg, a salty element – often fish sauce, soy sauce and/or oyster sauce – and spring onion. Sugar, chilli and lime juice balance the flavours: sweet, salty, sour and spicy.
In addition to the solid ingredients, there is always a source of protein in khao pad. This can be anything:
Khao pad moo – with pork
Khao pad gai – with chicken
Khao pad pboo – with crab
Khao pad goong – with shrimp
Khao pad sapparot – with pineapple (although this isn’t protein)
This dish is eaten by people from all walks of life, and, of course, by tourists. It’s found everywhere, from street stalls to markets and in upmarket restaurants. Khao pad is a perfect lunch dish for the Thai.
The salty element in this stir-fried dish varies from cook to cook. Oyster sauce is a popular choice, but fish sauce, soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce and regular salt are also used in various combinations. Depending on the chef, the dish is occasionally served with a fried egg on top.
No matter how simple the dish might appear, the Thais take it just as seriously as their more complex cooking. The rice must be cooked, but not overcooked and made with dry, loose grains. That is why cold rice from the day before works best. In addition, the lime that is squeezed over it at the very end is an indispensable element. It balances the sugar and salt in the rice.
Did you know?
In Thailand a variety is made that is called khao pad American or American fried rice. The rice is baked with ketchup and served with raisins, a fried egg on top and a sausage next to it. You won’t find khao pad American in America or outside of Thailand at all. The dish is far from authentic, yet it is a very popular dish, especially among Thai children and students.
How to make khao pad
Cooked jasmine rice, preferably from the day before, is fried with egg, garlic, salty seasonings (often a mix of soy and oyster sauce) and some sugar until the rice is warm and the egg is solidified. Spring onion is stirred through, the rice is dumped on a plate and then garnished with a slice of lime and cucumber slices.
How to eat
The Thais eat khao pad with a spoon and fork from a plate, after it has been seasoned with lime juice, chilli powder and prick nam pla, a Thai dressing containing fish sauce and sliced chillies.
Nasi goreng is the Indonesian variant of khao pad.
Khao pad is often served in Thailand as a side dish with pad krapow, a spicy stir-fried dish with Thai basil.