Thai Drunken Noodles

Drunken noodles are a popular Thai dish, also known as Pad Kee Mao, phat khii mao, and sometimes pad ki mao or pad kimao.  The name of the dish means drunkard, and it was a dish that was (and is!) often pulled together as antidote to a night of drinking, from ingredients commonly found in a Thai kitchen.    

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Noodles for Drunken Noodles

In Thailand or in some restaurants you might find this dish made with fresh rice noodles, but at home it’s usually made with dried, which have a long shelf life and are a pantry staple.  The noodles might be labeled Pad Thai noodles; get the widest ones you can, but don’t worry about it – any flat rice noodles will work.

Drunken Noodles Sauce

The sauce for this dish is usually a combination of soy sauce, a bit of sugar, something spicy, in this case red pepper flakes, and fish sauce, garlic, and, here, minced fresh ginger.  Fresh basil is also an ingredient in this dish, and you should make every effort to find Thai basil, which has a sharp kick to it, and absolutely makes the dish.  Holy basil is another choice.  As a last resort Italian basil can be used, but purists will shrug their shoulders a bit at that.

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

I often use less-sodium soy sauce in my Asian cooking to keep the salt levels in check, but that salty pop is what makes the dish needs to bring it on home.  If you want the real experience, you can use other types of dark and salty soy sauces.  I’ve also included some oyster sauce in my take on Pad Kee Mao.

Diced chicken is also a common ingredient in this stir fry, and you can decide between boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts as you prefer.  You can also add the vegetables of your choice to bump up the nutrition and texture.  

How to Make Drunken Noodles

Soften the rice noodles according to package directions. 

In a large bowl, mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 tablespoon water, and the cornstarch, then add the chicken and toss. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Make the sauce: meanwhile, in a small bowl or container mix together the chicken broth, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the oil, brown sugar, oyster sauce, mirin, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon garlic, fish sauce, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat 1 ½ teaspoons of the remaining oil in a very large skillet or a wok over medium high heat.  Add the half the chicken and stir fry until it’s almost cooked through, about 3 minutes for breast meat, 4 or 5 minutes for thigh meat.  Remove the chicken to a plate, and repeat with another 1 ½ teaspoons of the oil and the rest of the chicken.  Return the first batch of chicken to the pan.  

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Add the 4 sliced scallions, the remaining tablespoon of garlic, and the ginger, and sauté for 30 seconds until you can smell the garlic.  

Restir the sauce and add it to the pan with the drained soaked noodles and half of the basil.  Toss and cook for about 2 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened and coats everything nicely.

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Sprinkle over the remaining basil leaves and serve from the pan or transfer the noodles to a serving dish.  Serve hot with chili oil if desired.

Drunken Noodles: This Thai dish features satisfyingly chewy and tender rice noodles tossed with a pungent, addicting sauce.

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Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

This Thai dish features satisfyingly chewy and tender rice noodles tossed with a pungent, addicting sauce.
Yield: 4 people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces dried wide rice noodles
  • cup plus 1 tablespoon less-sodium soy sauce , divided
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil , divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs , cut into ½ in dice
  • ½ cup less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar , light or dark brown
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweetened rice wine; optional – you can also use dry sherry)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic , divided
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 scallions , white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup small leaf or roughly chopped Holy basil , Thai basil, or in a pinch regular basil
  • Chili oil to serve (optional)

Directions

  • Soften the rice noodles according to package directions (if there are no directions, place the noodles in a large bowl and add hot water to cover. Allow them to soak for 15 minutes until softened but not mushy, then drain and set aside).
  • In a large bowl, mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 tablespoon water, and the cornstarch, then add the chicken and toss. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Make the sauce: meanwhile, in a small bowl or container mix together the chicken broth, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the oil, brown sugar, oyster sauce, mirin, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon garlic, fish sauce, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 ½ teaspoons of the remaining oil in a very large skillet or a wok over medium high heat. Add the half the chicken and stir fry until it’s almost cooked through, about 3 minutes for breast meat, 4 or 5 minutes for thigh meat. Remove the chicken to a plate, and repeat with another 1 ½ teaspoons of the oil and the rest of the chicken. Return the first batch of chicken to the pan. Add the 4 sliced scallions, the remaining tablespoon of garlic, and the ginger, and sauté for 30 seconds until you can smell the garlic.
  • Restir the sauce and add it to the pan with the drained soaked noodles and half of the basil. Toss and cook for about 2 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened and coats everything nicely.
  • Sprinkle over the remaining basil leaves and serve from the pan or transfer the noodles to a serving dish. Serve hot with chili oil if desired.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 2821kcal | Carbohydrates: 354g | Protein: 166g | Fat: 76g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 435mg | Sodium: 7884mg | Potassium: 3255mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 2101IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 269mg | Iron: 9mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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