The literal translation of Pad Kee Mao is “Drunken Noodles” because the theory is that these spicy noodles are perfectly accompanied with an ice cold beer and also that they are a great cure for hangover. I can confirm both cases to be true!
This is a very popular Thai stir fried noodles both in Thailand and in Thai restaurants here in Australia. You will be surprised how fast and easy it is to make at home!
Get Pad Kee Mao from the streets of Thailand and unless you have an exceptional spice-o-meter, you’ll be chugging down the beer in an attempt to cool the burn in your mouth. Make this at home and you can control the heat! The amount of chilli I’ve included in the recipe is mild enough for most people (I think), but enough so you can taste the heat. By all means, feel free to turn up the spice dial!
There are all sorts of variations of Drunken Noodles in Thailand and even more in the western world. In Thailand the two constants are chicken and Thai Basil, and quite often it came with baby corn as well, though from my research I couldn’t confirm that this was a “must have” in this dish. Thai Basil is different to ordinary sweet / Italian basil, it has a mild aniseed and mint flavour.
Die-hard Thai purists will tell you that you must use Thai Basil or Thai Holy Basil to make this recipe, otherwise don’t bother. I say that it’s not a make or break. While you can definitely taste the difference if you eat the leaves plain, once stir fried with the other ingredients and the sauce, I bet most people wouldn’t be able to tell whether it’s ordinary or Thai Basil.
In Western Thai restaurants, Drunken Noodles are usually very saucy, oily and salty – too much so in my opinion, and very different from the streets of Thailand. The sauce of this recipe is lighter in colour and not as sweet as that of Pad See Ew (Thai Stir Fried Noodles), one of the most popular recipes here on RecipeTin Eats.
This recipe is also faster and easier to make because there are less ingredients. I often throw vegetables into it – like sliced carrots, cabbage, snow peas and Chinese greens – to make a complete “one wok” meal.
Make sure you prepare all the ingredients, ready to throw into the wok because it only takes a few minutes to cook and you don’t want to be scrambling around the kitchen. And remember to crack open an ice cold beer to enjoy these Drunken Noodles with! – Nagi x
- 7 oz /200g pad thai noodles , dried (see notes)
- 200 g /7oz chicken thigh fillet , cut into bite size pieces (2 small or 1½ normal size fillets)
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves (packed), preferably Thai holy basil but normal basil can be used as a sub
- 2 shallot/scallion stems , cut into 3cm/2" pieces
- 3 large cloves of garlic , minced
- 1 1/2 birds eye chilli , deseeded (or to taste), very finely chopped
- 2 tbsp oil (peanut, vegetable or canola)
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce (see notes)
- 1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce (or all purpose soy sauce)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp water
Pour boiling water over noodles in a large bowl (or pot) and set aside for 5 minutes (or as per packet instructions), and drain when ready.
Put Sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine.
Heat oil in wok or pan over high heat.
Add garlic and chilli and cook for 10 seconds. Don't inhale - the chilli will make you cough!
Add chicken and fry until cooked, around 2 minutes.
Add the shallots/scallions and about 1 tbsp of the sauce and stir fry for 30 seconds, just to coat the chicken.
Add the noodles and sauce and cook for 1 minute until the water evaporates and the sauce has coated the noodles.
If your noodles absorbs all the sauce liquid very quickly, this is probably because your noodles were a bit underdone. If this occurs, just add a splash of water (preferably hot) and this not only helps finish cooking the noodles but also revitalises the sauce.
Remove from heat and immediately add basil leaves, stir until just wilted, then serve immediately.
1. Light soy sauce is lighter in colour that the normal dark soy sauce but it is actually saltier. If you don't have/can't find light soy sauce, you can substitute with normal soy sauce but the colour of your noodles will be slightly darker and the flavour slightly less salty.
2. If you can't find dried Pad Thai noodles, you can use any other wide flat rice noodles or even egg noodles, dried or fresh. However, I don't recommend making this with vermicelli noodles (the very thin rice noodles) - it clumps together and you can't stir fry it to disperse the sauce evenly throughout (I tried it once. Disaster.)
3. Nutrition per serving, assuming 3 servings.
If you enjoyed this recipe, I PROMISE you will love my Pad See Ew (Thai Stir Fried Noodles)!
And another authentic Thai recipe – Thai Fried Rice!
And if you need a starter for your Thai feast, how about Thai Fish Cakes?