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!
Drunken Noodles – from the streets of Thailand!
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. This is still worth making even if you can’t find Thai Basil – just use ordinary 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. So it’s really nice to be able to make a healthier yet just as tasty version at home!
Difference between Pad See Mao and Pad See Ew
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. Also, Pad See Ew does not have Thai Basil in it, and it is not as spicy.
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
More Thai Food favourites
- Thai Chili Basil Chicken Stir Fry
- Pad See Ew and Pad Thai
- Thai Red Curry and Green Curry
- Massaman Curry
- Thai Fish Cakes
- Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce
- See all Thai Recipes
Spicy Thai Noodles (Pad Kee Mao / Drunken Noodles)
- 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.
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?