Also known as “Pad Kee Mao”, these rice noodles are tossed in an easy soy and fish sauce base with garlic, tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.
I have heard Thai drunken noodles (pad kee mao) got their name because you have to drink lots of water, or your beverage of choice, to combat the heat from the cloves of garlic and chilies, but that’s just hearsay. This version of this noodle dish is less spicy than you would get at a restaurant so if you like things fiery, feel free to add a few more chilies. I love serving these noodles with Thai Lime Beef.
Thai bird’s eye chili – Bird’s eye chilies or Thai chilies are small, pointy chili peppers that pack a punch. They add an intense heat with fruity flavor to dishes rating between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville units. They can sometimes be difficult to find, so I usually buy a large bag of them at my local Asian grocery stores. I store them in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag. It’s actually easier to cut them when they are frozen.
Rice noodles – I use medium-thickness wide rice noodles. They are the ones that look similar to fettuccine. These noodles are simply made from rice flour and water (though sometimes tapioca flour or cornstarch are added) making them naturally gluten-free.
Fish sauce – I love the funky umami flavor fish sauce adds to any dish. It’s a great way to enhance the flavor of curries or even chicken wings. The flavor comes from a process of fermenting fish over a long period of time.
Soy sauce – I use reduced sodium soy sauce so that I can control the amount of salt in the recipe, adding more if needed.
Basil – I use sweet basil, the most common variety found at grocery stores in the US for this recipe based on availability. If you can find it, swap it for Thai basil for a more authentic take on drunken noodles.
How to Make Thai Drunken Noodles
Cook the rice noodles. Boil a large pot of water over medium-high heat for the rice noodles. Cook until the noodles are al dente, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Run under cold water, then drain, and set aside in a large serving bowl.
Sauté the aromatics. In a large pot, heat vegetable oil, add the garlic and Thai chilies, sauté until the garlic begins to slightly brown, about 30 seconds to a minute.
Make the sauce. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, chicken stock and sugar to the aromatics. Stir and let simmer.
Assemble and serve. Remove the sauce from the stove and pour over noodles. Toss to coat evenly. Add the chopped tomatoes and basil leaves. Serve warm.
Tips and Tricks for This Recipe
Rather than making this drunken noodles recipe as a stir fry, I make the sauce then pour it over the cooked noodles.
My version is less spicy than you would get at a Thai restaurant, so feel free to add more chilies if you deem yourself up to the challenge.
In my opinion these noodles keep well and taste better the second day because the noodles really absorb the sauce so they can be made a day in advance.
Top this recipe with your favorite protein like steak, chicken or tofu. You can also add additional vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, baby corn or sautéed greens like spinach.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this drunken noodles (pad kee mao) recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:
3medium tomatoes on the vine or Roma tomatoes,chopped
1/3cupchopped fresh basil leaves
Boil a large pot of water for the rice noodles over medium-high heat. Cook until the noodles are al dente, stirring occasionally. Run under cold water, drain and set aside in a large serving bowl.
In a large pot heat vegetable oil, add the garlic and Thai chilies, sauté until the garlic begins to slightly brown, about 30 seconds to a minute. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, chicken stock and sugar stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Remove the sauce from the stove and pour over noodles. Toss to coat evenly. Add the chopped tomatoes and basil leaves. Serve warm.
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