If you’re looking for a unique and interesting way to make the standard noodle recipe a little more interesting, you won’t need to look further than the wide range of noodle dishes hailing from Thailand that use a specific selection of vibrant spices, chilies and sauces to turn a standard snack into a larger and more delicious stir fry.
One of the most popular examples of these noodle stir-fry dishes that are commonly seen on many take-out menus around Thailand is Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles) which not only has a fascinating history, but is also well known for being an incredibly spicy dish as opposed to most other Thai recipes which tend to be a lot sweeter.
If you’re looking for a switch-up to the standard noodle recipe and like the idea of adding a little bit of heat to a fulfilling stir-fry appetizer, here is how you can make Pad Kee Mao today.
What Is Pad Kee Mao?
While there are several theories about how it originally got its name, the most common explanation is that this recipe was a favorite among many people in Thailand after a fun night of drinking.
The thick and fresh rice noodles along with the extra added ingredients were seen to soak up the alcohol, allowing you to have a refreshing sleep so that you can feel active and ready for the day ahead when you wake up.
The star of this recipe is the fresh rice noodles themselves which are known for being incredibly thick and can often be found easily in the dried noodle aisle of most food stores.
Over the top of the noodles is a thick layer of sauce which uses a mixture of dark and light soy sauce along with oyster sauce to grant the dish an incredible savory flavor, along with an assortment of exotic chilies to add in as much spice as possible.
How Does Pad Kee Mao Taste?
Pad Kee Mao is actually very different from most other popular Thai noodle recipes since rather than being nutty and sweet, it is instead savory and incredibly spicy, which is why it is mostly enjoyed by those who like to have a noticeable amount of heat in their meals.
Alongside the noticeable spiciness, Pad Kee Mao is also given a slightly minty aftertaste thanks to the Holy Basil leaves that are mixed into the stir fry which helps to make this an incredibly refreshing noodle dish that is perfect as an evening appetizer to enjoy later in the day.
How Spicy Is Pad Kee Mao?
If you’re not a big fan of spice or prefer the heat in your food to be on the much lighter and milder side, you might want to avoid eating a Pad Kee Mao dish as while they are not intensely hot, they do have a very noticeable spicy taste due to the basil and peppers which helps to add a lot more heat to the noodles and the dish overall.
Pad Kee Mao is therefore considered mild in terms of its spiciness, however, if you do want to kick the heat up a notch, you can also add chili flakes or a small dash of hot sauce depending on your taste preferences.
Is Pad Kee Mao Healthy?
Pad Kee Mao is one of the healthiest Thai noodle dishes you can make, and part of the reason for that is not only because it manages to remain low in calories while making use of a range of different ingredients in its recipe, but the noodles along with the pieces of chicken pack it full of protein with the average dish containing 20 grams worth, making it the perfect snack to enjoy after a workout.
It is also very high in Vitamin C and Potassium which helps to regulate fluid balance in the body while also improving our heart health.
Each serving does contain roughly 10 to 15 grams of fat on average, so always keep this in mind if you’re trying to be cautious about your fat intake, however with each dish only containing 445 calories on average, this recipe still doesn’t go overboard even with the multitude of ingredients it uses, making it as nutritious as it is delicious.
Ingredients To Make Pad Kee Mao
Since it is a stir-fry recipe, Pad Kee Mao is incredibly easy to prepare and can be piping hot and ready to serve in just 15 minutes.
The majority of the ingredients needed other than the noodles are chilies, spices, and ingredients to make the sauce, so you won’t need to spend too much money on any big and expensive ingredients.
Here is all you will need to prepare a delightfully spicy Pad Kee Mao recipe:
- 7oz Dried Rice Noodles – Try and use the widest and thickest rice noodles possible since this will allow them to soak up the flavors featured in the spices and sauces.
- 3 Tbsp Oil – Any mild oil such as vegetable, peanut, or canola oil will work perfectly for heating up the noodles and other ingredients in this recipe.
- 3 Cloves Minced Garlic – The earthy taste of the garlic helps to even out the spiciness of the chili while also enhancing the dish’s overall natural flavor.
- ½ Onion – If you can’t get your hands on some onions, onion flakes and leeks are similar ingredients that will add just as much sweetness to the noodles.
- 60z Chicken Thighs – A little bit of meat helps to give this recipe a slightly more chewy texture while also packing it full of protein.
- 3 Scallions – A few scallions thrown into the stir-fry adds a tremendous amount of heat to the overall dish along with adding a little bit of crunchiness to the overall texture.
- 2 Thai Chillies – There are over 70 different Thai chilies that are commonly used in Thai noodle recipes, however the most popular is Prik Kaleang which offers moderate to high heat. For maximum heat, Prik Kee Noo peppers are a great choice, however any Thai peppers will still work very well.
- 1 Cup Thai Holy Basil Leaves – While it tastes a lot like licorice, Thai basil also possesses an intense amount of spice, making it the perfect ingredient for a chili recipe such as this.
- 2 Tbsp of Cornstarch – Used as a coating to the chicken to make it even crispier to bite into.
- 2 Tbsp Sugar – A dash of sugar helps to make the savory flavor of the sauce stand out as much as possible.
- 2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce – The saltiness of light soy sauce makes it a must-use ingredient when making an authentic Pad Kee Mao stir fry dish.
- 2 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce – The rich and slightly sweet taste of dark soy sauce helps to even out the spiciness from the chilies and basil.
- 3 Tbsp Oyster Sauce – Some sweet and savory oyster sauce helps to grant the sauce a thicker texture while also adding just a hint of barbeque to the overall flavor.
How To Make Pad Kee Mao
Pad Kee Mao is most popular as street food in Thailand because of how easily it can be whipped up, which is why it also makes for the perfect mid-week or late-night appetizer when you want something filling that can be made with just a handful of ingredients.
Here is the easiest and quickest way to prepare a mouthwatering Pad Kee Mao stir fry:
Step 1) Prepare The Chicken
Prepare the chicken thighs by mixing them with 2 tablespoons of water along with a single teaspoon of oil so that it has absorbed the liquid, and then proceed to cover it evenly with cornstarch.
Set the chicken aside for later.
Step 2) Create The Sauce
In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, oyster sauce, and both soy sauces for up to 5 minutes until the sauce is slightly thick and starts giving off a humid and hot smell.
When it looks prepared, set the sauce aside for when it’s time to layer it over the stir fry.
Step 2) Soak Your Noodles
Soak your dried rice noodles in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes until they are soft and clearly separated.
An easy way to test when the noodles are ready is by removing them from the bowl and testing if the middle is solid, if it is, then it will require a few more minutes until the entire strand is soft and flexible.
Drain the noodles once they look ready and put them to the side to be used later on.
Step 3) Heat Up The Meat
Add the remaining two teaspoons of oil to a wok or large heavy-based skillet and add in the chicken thighs to simmer for just over a minute.
You preferably don’t want the chicken to be on the wok for too long since this can make it crunchy rather than juicy, which means it won’t absorb as much flavor as it could be, so you won’t have to wait long until it’s ready.
Once it has been cooked thoroughly and is still juicy, remove the chicken from the wok and place it to one side.
Step 4) Add The Garlic And Chilli
Now it’s time to start preparing the spicy base of this meal. Simply add the garlic and chilies to the wok and cook for about 10 seconds.
This won’t need to be long since the chillis will start giving off a humid and spicy aroma in barely any time at all which signifies that they are ready.
Step 5) Add The Onion
Add the half-minced onion to the wok and cook for an extra minute until it starts to turn translucent and gives off a sweet caramel-like aroma.
Step 6) Mix The Noodles And Sauce
Finally to finish the stir-fry off, add in the noodles along with the scallions and the sauce mixture and proceed to mix all the ingredients together for 1 minute.
Since the noodles have already been prepared beforehand and because scallions can be heated up thoroughly in barely any time, you won’t need to wait long for the ingredients to fuse together.
Step 7) Garnish With Basil
Once the mixture is piping hot, remove it from the wok, sprinkle the Thai basil over the top, and your Pad Kee Mao noodle stir fry will be ready to serve.
How To Serve Pad Kee Mao
Since Pad Kee Mao is a very filling dish that will leave you feeling full and satisfied for at least a few hours, it is most often enjoyed in the evening or night when you want a final meal that will help you relax and unwind for the day.
As its name might suggest, Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles are actually commonly enjoyed alongside a beverage, and while this is usually a Thai wine such as Shiraz or Pokdum for example, it really does go well with any drink that has a very rich and distinctive taste that you can sip on while you tuck into the main course.
Tofu is another ingredient that can commonly be seen appearing alongside a Pad Kee Mao stir fry because many people will dip it into the mixture so it can absorb the elegant variety of flavors before biting into the tofu and enjoying it for themselves.
Firm tofu is the perfect kind to use since it will be able to absorb the flavors very easily.
Extra and super firm tofu on the other hand can have a much harder time doing this while soft tofu can easily become soggy and can get lost in between the medley of other ingredients.
With its unique spicy taste and nutritional benefits, along with how downright easy it is to make, Pad Kee Mao is a delightful Thai noodle dish that you won’t want to miss out on, especially if you’ve been looking for a way to switch up from the regular noodle or stir fry recipes.