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Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)- A Quick & Easy Thai Recipe

One of my favorite lunch or dinner items to order at a Thai restaurant is Drunken Noodles. Also known as Pad Kee Mao, this dish is a stir fry recipe made with broad rice noodles tossed in various sauces and spices.

In addition, you can have a protein added to the noodles, most often in the form of sliced chicken, pork, or shrimp. My favorite way to order it is with thin slices of chicken tossed in the sauce with the noodles.

However, don’t think that this is a flavorless dish of rice noodles and chicken. Instead, this dish is popular for its strong, bold, and spicy flavors.

drunken noodles for dinner
Drunken noodles is a quick, easy, and delicious dinner recipe.

The flavors come from a combination of common ingredients found in Thai recipes. Soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, basil, and optional chili peppers are used to make this distinctive and delicious sauce that the noodles are tossed in.

It is a very popular dish in Thailand and now in many countries throughout the world. And once you take one bite, you will know why!

Each bite is full of flavor. In fact, it is so addicting that you will eat the entire plate of food because it is that good!

And that is why I knew that I needed to learn to make this recipe at home! It is actually a very easy recipe to make and it is ready to eat in only 30 minutes!

Why Is It Called Drunken Noodles

Although there are various theories and versions of why they are nicknamed Drunken Noodles, they are all interesting and stem from the same thought.

Unlike Drunken Cajun Chicken, there is no alcohol included in the ingredient list. Instead, the common name comes from those who would eat the noodles late at night.

This popular dish was served by street vendors in the evening. The spicy noodles became the food of choice for those who may have had too much alcohol.

Whether it was to soak up the alcohol or to use the alcohol courage to order the noodles extra spicy in an effort to see who could eat the spiciest dish, it quickly became the dish of choice.

rice noodles
If you can’t find the wide rice noodles substitute Pad Thai noodles instead.

Now it is one of Thailand’s most popular dishes and it is served in Thai restaurants everywhere! However, the actual name of the dish is Pad Kee Mao and it is made in many different ways depending on the region that it is prepared.

Some regions make it solely with seafood. Others make it with chicken, pork, or tofu. And you can even find vegetarian versions made with vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

Traditional Ingredients Used To Make Drunken Noodles

Drunken noodles are well known for their bold spicy flavors. The ingredients used to make it include wide rice noodles, meat or seafood (such as chicken, pork, or shrimp), garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sometimes sugar to balance the heat.

Rice noodles are typically found in the Asian aisle at the grocery store, not with the pasta noodles. This recipe calls for wide noodles (not the skinny noodles used to make Pho) that look white or opaque in color.

If you can’t find the broad noodles, you can substitute Pad Thai noodles instead. The noodles are cooked by soaking them in hot water and then they are added to the skillet or wok to finish off in the sauce.

In addition to vegetables like bell peppers, tomato and basil are often added to make the dish more flavorful and colorful. The bell peppers give the noodles a nice crunch and the basil gives it a pop of green color and additional Thai flavor.

Thai Basil
Thai basil looks different than standard basil. It is thicker and has a slight purple tint to the stem and veins. Use regular basil if you don’t have Thai basil.

What Type of Basil To Use

Most Drunken Noodle recipes will call for Thai Holy Basil. This is a very difficult item to find unless you are in Thailand itself.

Therefore most Thai restaurants in the United States substitute regular Thai Basil in place of Holy Basil. Unless of course they have a good source to purchase it at a Thai grocery store.

There is a definite difference in taste and aroma between Thai Basil and Basil found in backyards and grocery stores in the states. Thai Basil has a savory, spicy, and anise-like taste.

It actually has a stronger and more distinct flavor than Thai Holy Basil. However, if you can’t find either one, it is okay to substitute the more common and easily found basil leaves.

Drunken Noodles Recipe

*Specific measurements and complete recipe instructions are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to continue to read the tips and tricks to making this recipe below.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz wide rice noodles
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil (or canola)
  • 1/2 onions, chopped
  • 1 large chicken breast, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 large cloves of garlic , minced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup Thai Basil leaves (or substitute regular basil), roughly chopped
red chili paste
Thai red chili paste will add both great flavor and some heat to the Drunken Noodle Sauce. Use as much of it as you wish to increase the spice level.

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Thai red chili paste

INSTRUCTIONS

Cook wide rice noodles according to package instructions. Set aside. Then mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok set over high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Then add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the chicken and fish sauce. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 10 seconds. Then add the thinly sliced bell pepper and the whites of the chopped green onions and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the cooked noodles to the pan and pour the sauce over the noodles. Toss and cook for a few minutes until warmed through and the sauce thickens a bit.

drunken noodles with basil

Remove the skillet from the heat and then stir in the chopped basil. Garnish with remaining diced green onions and serve immediately.

For additional spice stir in chili sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, or Sriracha sauce.

Store drunken noodle leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat with a little oil in a skillet for best results.

Enjoy! Mary

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Drunken Noodles

plate of drunken noodles

Ingredients

  • 8 oz wide rice noodles
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil (or canola)
  • 1/2 onions, chopped
  • 1 large chicken breast, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 large cloves of garlic , minced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup Thai Basil leaves (or substitute regular basil), roughly chopped

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Thai red chili paste

Instructions

  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok set over high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add chicken and fish sauce. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook for 10 seconds. Then add the thinly sliced bell pepper and the whites of the chopped green onions and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add noodles to the pan and pour the sauce over the noodles. Toss and cook for a few minutes until warmed through and the sauce thickens a bit.. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped basil.
  6. Garnish with diced green onions and serve immediately. For additional spice stir in chili sauce, crushed red pepper flakes or Sriracha sauce.

    Notes

    Sesame oil substitute: Canola oil

    Thai red chili paste substitute: Red Pepper Flakes or Sriracha sauce

    Recipe provided by Make Your Meals

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    4

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 1234mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 13g

    Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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