Jun 21, 2011

Vegetarian Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodle or Pad Kee Mao is my most favorite dish in Thai Cuisine. There is an interesting story behind the name given to these noodles. The literal meaning of the name is a little gross. I could not believe it when I read it up for the first time and my jaw opened up wide. Well, just so I can gross you out too – here’s what it is. Pad means Stir fry. Kee means Shit. Yes, you read it right and it’s not a typo. Mao means drunk. Grossed out enough? So, here’s the old wife’s tale behind this noodle – it seems a guy came back home so drunk and had a horrible hangover the next morning. His wife made some flat noodles and added a ton of chilli spice in it – and he ended up eating it and was totally relived of his hangover. So, the wife decided to call the noodles – Stir fried noodles to be eaten when someone is Shit Drunk. Pad Kee Mao. Makes sense now? And so it got its famous Drunken Noodle name. And I thought it was just because the noodle itself looked so flat out drunk and sloppy when cooked. Maybe that’s true too.

But the last hundred times I’ve eaten it, I’ve not been Shit drunk. Or have I ever eaten this for breakfast to cure myself of a hangover. However, this still makes a sensational dish as a part of a Thai dinner. Shit Drunk or not. Now, I can’t seem to stop using the gross words. Help me God!

There’s been this little box of Panang Curry paste sitting in my pantry for a little while now. And so one day last week for dinner, I decided its going to be Thai night. And of course, I ended up craving for some Drunken noodle and decided it was time I learnt how to make it. So, one the way back home from work, I stopped at the asian store to pick up some flat noodles and found these flat rice noodles. Now, even flatter ones would work best – the big flat squares would be perfect. But sometimes you just learn to live with what you get. Right? So, this was all I could find and had to live with it. Or rather cook with it.

This recipe is pretty simple. Cook the noodle al dente and set aside. Make a sauce to go with the noodles. Cook the veggies crisp. Add the sauce, spices, and noodles and mix them all together well. That’s it. Eazy, Peazy, Jacuzzi.

So, let’s start the cooking. Bring a wide pan of water to a boil and add the noodles in and cook for about 5-8 min or as per the instructions on the packet. Cook the noodles al dente and not too soft – there should be a gentle bite to the noodles. Drain, wash well with cold water and move to a bowl and add about a tbsp of oil and mix well. Make sure they don’t cling to each other and remain separate.

Chop up your favorite veggies to go with the noodles. These are my veggies for both the panang curry and the noodle – that’s why you see two sets of veggies. I also bought fried tofu from the store for my curry and noodles. You could also use regular soft tofu instead – that would do good for the curry but you can pan fry them a little for the noodles.
Here’s what goes in the sauce.

1 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsps of golden mountain sauce - this is made with soy sauce and wheat flour. This is a great substitute for vegetarians instead of a fish sauce normally used in thai dishes. This sauce adds that extra saltiness usually provided but the fish sauce
1 tbsp of vegetarian oyster sauce ( if you can find it – if not, just skip this ingredient)
1 tsp of plain white sugar
1 tsp of brown palm sugar
1 tsp of chilli paste (skip this if you don’t want your dish too spicy. We will also be adding chilli paste directly to the veggies)

Add all the above sauces to a small bowl and whisk together well and set aside.

In a wide pan or wok (wide enough the toss the noodles with the veggies), add 2 tbsps of vegetable oil. Add in fresh chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies.
When that browns a little, add in the sliced onions and saut̩ till they turn color. Throw in all the veggies Рbroccoli, carrots, baby corn, bell peppers or anything else you like with your noodles. Little button mushrooms would be great too.

Add the tofu to the veggies and mix well.

Cook the veggies for a minute and add in some red hot chilli flakes. You could also use the thai chilli paste. Purists would cry foul at my dish because I’m not adding the fresh thai basil here – I will cry foul myself – but I could not find the fresh thai basil at my Korean store..:( - but I added an alternative later on – you’ll see.

When the veggies are done, add half of the prepared sauce on top the veggies to flavor them up.

Immediately, add the cooked noodles and stir well. Now, add the rest of the sauce on top of the noodles and give the whole thing a brisk mix up.

Now, instead of the thai basil, I added a few fresh leaves of Tulsi. Why did I do this – because a friend of mine has a thai neighbor who oftens borrows tulsi leaves from her garden to use in her home cooked thai meals. According to her, tulsi also provides a nice flavor to her thai dishes. So, I thought I should try using it too and yes it does add a nice flavor. So, try some the next time you make Thai food.

That’s it – we’re done here.

Time to sit back and enjoy some awesome Pad Kee Mao noodles.

Here's the Panang Curry I made. I don't really have a recipe for this as I used a readymade Panang Curry paste to preapare this - just a couple of spoons of the paste with a can of lite coconut milk and a easy bowl of curry is ready for dinner. Serve hot with steaming white rice.

Enjoy. Peace Out!


  1. Loving it Anu.... looks awesome... when I can I come home :D to have some??

  2. Looks extremely authentic, I want some right now..make it next time we meet..

  3. Interesting name and story to it. I have not ventured beyond Maggi noodles...this will be very different I am sure.

  4. Love the name--me too never gone beyond Maggi and Hakka noodles!!

  5. Aww... I luv the name and the story behind it :) This is one interesting recipe...looks very tempting

  6. looks yummy n healthy lvd ur noodles

  7. Love noodles as anything, wonderful platter, seriously inviting..

  8. This looks yummy! Even though the name isnt :)

  9. Interesting story! And even with the name I would love to have some off your post :)

  10. Wow...wonderful noodles..gorgeous color ....

  11. ok, I have to bookmark it as I love thai food, though I have never tried this one and yes I am grossed out, but still want to eat it.

  12. Drunken noodles is my favorite too. And the panang curry looks delicious :)

  13. Enjoyed reading the trivia n I am totally grossed out but can still have a full plate of that drunken noodles :DD
    US Masala

  14. I love drunken noodles. Yours look perfect & mouthwatering!!

  15. Looking delicious. First time here. Glad to follow you.Hope you will visit me too.
    Show and Tell
    Event - LGSS_Paneer

  16. Wow what a story behind the name!! Loved the dish. Delicious clicks

  17. Looks awesome. Would love to try it out. Can you please indicate the brand of panang curry paste and pad thai paste that you use ?


  18. @Kavitha - thanks. For the Panang Curry - I used the Nang Fah (Tue Kung) brand. I did not use a paste for the noodles - just made the sauce at home.

  19. Looks awesome akka. Next time try to add 1tsp of peanut butter when you are cooking the veggies for the noodles/curry. It adds that peanut-ty flavor, but a more intense punch of it....


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