Experiences - Asia

Thai Drunken Noodles – Pad Kee Mao

Thailand is a land of enchanting wonders, it’s one of the most sought after destination for travellers and a paradise for food lovers as it has some of the best gastronomic delights to offer. Popularly known as the Land of smiles, Thailand is home to exotic food that is a feast for the senses and among the many scrumptious dishes that Thailand proffers Pad Kee Mao is a must-have.

Thai Drunken Noodles – Pad kee mao, is the literal translation of “Drunken Noodles” in Thai. There is no element of alcohol in it but if you are wondering why it is called so, Pad kee mao is the dance of spice on your taste buds.

Thai Drunken Noodles - Pad Kee Mao

Image Courtesy: Jason Lam used under the Creative Commons Licence

There are several theories that exist to this dish but the most popular one is this: The Thais are known to drink along with their meals unlike the westerners who drink prior to their meals. The noodles are high on spices and has a rich and hot flavour which goes extremely well when accompanied with an ice-cold beer. The fierce combination of hot and spicy with cold and chill something is intangible in words. It is also quite helpful in curing a hangover.

Although the dish is Chinese-influenced, it was popularised by the Chinese people living in Thailand. Drunken noodles are made with broad rice noodles and stir fried with fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, meat, seafood, tofu, bean sprouts and a lot of other vegetables. The spice that gives a kick to your taste buds is the ripe red Thai chilli and basil that adds a distinctive flavour with a heat to the dish.

You need to have a high tolerance for spicy food when you eat these noodles. In fact, you will be gulping down pints of beer alongside eating every bite of this. But the taste is something that you can never get over with. It is super-delicious and easy to make at home.

There are many variations to Pad Kee Mao in Thailand and even more in the US and other western parts of the world. In Thailand though, chicken and baby corn along with Thai basil is quite common.

If you want to make a one pot meal out of it you can add more meat (pork, chicken, beef) and veggies (broccoli, carrots, bean sprouts, bell peppers (red, yellow and green) baby corn, and peas) of your choice to make it more colourful and flavourful.

Thai Drunken Noodles

Image Courtesy: Jeffrey L. Cohen used under the Creative Commons Licence

How to make Pad Kee Mao in 6 simple steps:

Step 1: Boil water and add the noodles. Drain the water when they are cooked completely.

Step 2: Combine soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and mix them in a bowl.

Step 3: Heat oil in a wok and add garlic, ripe red chilli(bird’s eye chilli) and sauté until the chilies wilt a bit.

Step 4: Now add the finely chopped onions along with the minced meat, veggies, basil leaves, egg (optional) and fry until it’s cooked.

Step 5: Add the sauces and stir-fry until all the veggies and meat soak in it and the flavour fills up.

Step 6: Finally add the noodles and cook for a minute or two until the water evaporates and the sauce has coated the noodles. Garnish with green onions if needed.


Serve while they are hot and enjoy the spice dancing on your taste buds.

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