Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

>> Monday, July 20, 2015

Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)
The leftovers on my desk the following day. Yum - but yet again I apologize for photo quality.

Last Friday, I went to a Thai restaurant for lunch with my friend Peg - the first time I've seen her since school let out and the teachers let down their hair. With acclimating to my new job, prepping work for my July art show, and getting some new social justice initiatives going at our church, I haven't had any girlfriend time in a LONG time. It refreshed my heart like always.

I admit that I love sticking to favorites in Thai restaurants, even more so when the menu is longer than two pages and I can't make up my mind. I was certain there was Tom Kha Gai (chicken and coconut soup) in my future until the waiter set down bowls of clear mushroom soup. My script was rewritten and the "Drunken Noodles" description sounded wonderful.

It was so good that I went home and looked up recipes immediately. I learned that it got its name from the spicy umami that goes well with lots of beer or probably any other drink you like. Some people also say it's good for a hangover, but I didn't test that theory.

Thai birds-eye chiles for Pad Kee Mao
Thai birds-eye chiles. Tiny little pepper torpedoes.

During my research I also discovered the mouth-watering blog High Heel Gourmet, where the author shares stories about life in Thailand and California along with authentic recipes and lots of wit. She also gave me the most wonderful tip about scrambling eggs in a wok so they don't soak up all the sauce. You'll see it below.

While I toned down the heat and changed the recipe toward my own tastes, it's pretty close to several recipes written by Thai cooks. We made it without meat one night, but of course you can add whatever you like!

Remember, anytime you're cooking something in a wok or with a stir-fry method, the whole process goes quickly. Have everything ready to go and lined up next to the pan so you can toss it in when it's time.


For the sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp white pepper

For the stir fry
1/2 lb chicken, shrimp, beef or pork, thinly sliced against the grain (substitute firm tofu if you like)
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp canola or peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Thai birds eye chili
2 jalapenos, sliced (2 peppers tasted just hot enough for me, but I like spicy)
1 tomato, sliced into thin wedges
1 onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 cups mixed vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, green beans (try the Asian foot-long beans!), bok choy, sliced green onions, or anything else you like
4 cups thick rice noodles
3 eggs
1 cup Thai basil leaves, coarsely chopped


Dust the meat with the cornstarch to tenderize it and seal the surface. The cornstarch will also thicken the stir-fry sauce. Set aside. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Soften the noodles according to the package directions. If the directions are in a language you can't read, soak the noodles in hot water until soft, stirring occasionally so they don't stick together. Drain and use right away.

Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk them.

Heat a large wok and high heat, and then add the oil. When the oil shimmers toss in the garlic and cook until tender - about 30 seconds. Add the vegetables and cook until they are starting to get tender. Then add the meat. Stir and cook until all edges are seared. 

Stir in the noodles and toss the ingredients together. Pour on the sauce and toss some more until the food is well-coated.

Turn the heat down to slightly. Move some of the noodle-veg mix away from the side, then pour in the eggs. Flip the noodles on top of the eggs and count to fifteen. The noodles are holding the heat over your eggs until they are somewhat cooked.
High Heel Gourmet says: "The counting is the time the eggs need to set a little. If you crack the egg and start to stir-fry right away, the egg will just disappear and leave the fishy smell and fishy taste behind…yuckkkkk! This is how I get the eggs to look like I just scrambled them and added them to the wok."
Toss the egg with the noodles. Finally, throw in the basil leaves and toss until they are slightly wilted. Serve in bowls, with lime wedges if desired.

Serves 4.


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