Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

These Thai Drunken Noodles are perfect with an ice cold beer. They’re insanely easy to put together and tastes absolutely divine! Rice noodles tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce, along with fresh greens and basil… it’s SO GOOD. Much better (and healthier) than any takeout you’ll find. 

Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Let me start by saying that no, these Drunken Noodles are not soaked in alcohol. When translating the Thai name for Drunken Noodles, Pad Kee Mao, ‘pad’ means ‘stir-fry’ while ‘kee mao’ means ‘a drunkard’. There are actually a couple of theories about the origin of the name – one theory is that they are so spicy, that individuals get drunk in the process of trying to quench their thirst while the other is simply that these noodles are perfect after a night of drinking with friends. 

Regardless, Drunken Noodles are super popular in restaurants both in and out of Thailand. I’ve actually had it in Thailand and found myself chugging down beer after beer (or perhaps Thai milk tea if I’m in the mood) to cool that burrrnnnn. Now you see how the name came about. Making this at home is not only healthier (think less salt and oil), but also gives you control over the level of spiciness of the dish. My partner isn’t a huge fan of spice so I’ve created this recipe such that the level of heat should be mild enough for most people. That said, feel free to add more chillies or even leave it out entirely! 

Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

These noodles are so delicious as well. Just imagine, chewy rice noodles that are coated in a sauce that’s just the perfect blend of sweet, savoury and spicy. As incredible as the sauce is, it couldn’t be any simpler! Just mix together some oyster sauce, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, palm sugar, water and white pepper and YOU’RE DONE. Tossed together with some other aromatics, meat, resh greens and basil and a squeeze of lime and you’ve got yourself one helluva dish. 

Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Let’s Talk Ingredients

Rice Noodles: You could use either fresh or dried rice noodles but just try to get the widest one there is! The recipe uses dried rice noodles but if you had fresh rice noodles on hand, just add it in after you’ve cooked the aromatics, protein and greens. 

Basil: Drunken noodles can be made with either of the two types of Thai Basils – regular Thai Basil and Thai Holy Basil. Traditionally, these noodles are made with Holy Basil but most restaurants typically use regular Thai Basil because of how scarce the other is. If you can’t find any of the Thai Basils, regular Italian basil works as well. The main difference is that the Thai Basils have a more pronounced aniseed flavour. 

Protein: There are so many options to choose from! Shrimp, chicken, beef, tofu – all of them will work wonderfully. You could also top this dish off with a fried egg. . 

Vegetables – I used broccolini in this recipe but you could also use bak choy, kai lan, baby corn ears or really just any type of greens you like. It’s not traditionally but you could also add in red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms or carrots. 

Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

For your Thai feast, why not try out my Quick Thai Massaman Curry recipe as well? 

Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

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Serves: 2

These Thai Drunken Noodles are perfect with an ice cold beer. They’re insanely easy to put together and tastes absolutely divine! Rice noodles tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce, along with fresh greens and basil… it’s SO GOOD. Much better (and healthier) than any takeout you’ll find.

Ingredients

  • Stir Fry
  • Neutral oil
  • 200g dried wide rice noodles
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • 250g prawns, chicken, beef or firm tofu
  • 100g sliced greens (e.g. broccolini, kai lan, bak choy)
  • 20g Thai basil leaves
  • Lime, sliced into wedges (to garnish)

  • Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar or honey
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Dash of white pepper

Instructions

1

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook your dried rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside when ready.

2

In the meantime, combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

3

Heat up some oil in a pan or wok over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and stir fry for a minute. Add the shrimp (or chicken/tofu/beef) and cook for 1-2 minutes. Toss in the greens and fry for another minute.

4

Add the cooked rice noodles into the pan, along with the sauce, and toss everything together until evenly distributed. If the noodles are sticking too much, adjust with oil, adding 1 teaspoon of oil at a time. If you prefer it to be saucier, just add a little more water. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil leaves. Garnish with the lime wedges and serve immediately.

Notes

If using fresh rice noodles, just add it in in step 4 and proceed as per the recipe.

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