Soggy, Wet & Drunk

After getting caught in a downpour this afternoon in the Argyle neighborhood of Chicago. Over some sweet and creamy mango ice cream bars, we sat in our car contemplating our dinner options. Rather than hitting up the numerous Thai and Vietnamese restaurants surrounding us, we headed home after being inspired to cook up some Thai food. With some veggies yearning to be used in my kitchen, I went to work and made Pad Kee Mao, also known as "Drunken Noodles."
Drunken noodles (or Pad Kee Mao, ผัดขี้เมา) is a Thai noodle dish similar to Pad See Ew, but with more flavor. It is made with broad rice noodles, soy sauce, garlic, and usually meat, sometimes bean sprouts, and various seasonings. Chili and thai basil adds to its well known spiciness.

We thought we had enough heat to deal with, so I made Pad Kee Mao without chili tonight. No one knows where the name of this dish comes from. Some believe it is called drunken noodles because it's an excellent hangover cure. Others believe that it is so hot that the eater has to be drunk to be able to stand it, while some are sure that it's because one becomes drunk trying to drown out the heat with alcohol. Still others believe that the name comes from the wide assortment of ingredients the dish contains: The chef is drunk enough to throw in a bunch of vegetables and spices without thinking it over. The most probable explanation is that this is one of the only foods available on the streets of Thailand late at night and in the very early morning, the times when drunken partyers are looking for something to eat. It is very possible that the extremely "wobbly" noodles themselves give the dish its name.

Here is my recipe for Pad Kee Mao, but you're welcome to use various other vegetables you have on hand:

1 pkg flat rice noodles in "shards" or sticks
water to cook noodles
thai basil leaves - whole or chiffonade
assorted veggies such as:
sliced fresh mushrooms
sliced green & yellow bell pepper
2 plum tomatoes, wedged
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, sliced
2 eggs scrambled
1 large chicken breast (or your choice of meat)
cooking oil

Sauce (combine the following in a bowl):
1/2 cup oyster sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

In a pot, boil water and cook noodles until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
Drain noodles and set aside.
Prep veggies for stir frying.
In a large wok or skillet, heat oil to cover pan.
Add garlic and onions until it sweats.
Add peppers and mushrooms; cook until softened.
Add tomatoes and cook until softened.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Add oil if needed and fry up scrambled eggs.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Add oil if needed and stir fry chicken.
Season with salt & pepper if you'd like.
Combine all ingredients in pan and add sauce.
Toss until thoroughly coated with sauce.
Garnish with whole or chiffonade basil.
Serve hot.


  1. I LOVE pad kee mao. I'll have to try this recipe for it out!

  2. i LOVE this!! i have tried to make this dish at home several times and it never tastes authentic... i'm excited to try your recipe now :)

  3. This was the third recipe I've tried from your blog, and it was also a hit. Thanks for the great recipes!

  4. hi!
    another hit! i made this last evening, and the whole family loved it. however, since most of them are newbies to oyster sauce, including myself, it was a bit challenging. i think next time i make this i'll use a bit less of the oyster sauce. also, i added one teaspoon of soybean paste, and a bit more fish sauce, and a bit more sugar. but that is one of the great things about stir fry - all the experimenting that one can do! in addition, i used some bean sprouts. i really liked it. the big mystery for me is how to prepare the dry wide rice noodles. i was going to get some fresh rice noodles, but the package said, "must be consumed 4 hours from time of manufacture." now, it must have taken at least 4 hours to get from the factory to my international market.
    but, the fresh noodles didn't look as good as the wide rice noodles that i like from the package. i found that boiling the dry noodles for 12 minutes did the trick completely. i asked a fellow in the noodle aisle how long he thought the noodles should be cooked and he said 20 minutes, which i thought must be too long.
    oh well.
    i really appreciate you posting these great recipes. thanks most kindly.