A quick pad kee mao ( drunken noodles ) recipe made with rice sticks, chicken thigh, and crisp green veggies for a flavourful perfect Thai street food craving. With our simple recipe tips, you can create these delicious Thai spicy noodles in 20 minutes!
This dish is one of the most refreshing noodles I’ve ever had in Thailand. The soft chicken pieces in basil and chillies along with the chewy noodles made me feel refreshed, energized and satisfied same time. Since then, I’ve been trying to make the exact same taste at home for years and finally, it’s here! I’m sharing our easy and delicious drunken noodle recipe with you all so you can try it and face another day refreshed and energized!
Pad Kee Mao Ingredients
Noodles - Widest available rice noodles with regular thickness is best for this recipe. Fresh rice noodles are a better option than dry and they can be found in the refrigerated corner of supermarkets. If they are nowhere to be found, you can use dried rice sticks and prepare them to the packet instructions.
Pro Tip: If you are using dry rice noodles, soak the noodles in warm water for 15-20 minutes and drain the water out. Don’t boil them too soft as they need to be stir-fried with the sauce so it’s important to keep their hardness and chewiness. Overcooked noodles can be too soft and break easily. They won’t look great or tasty after stir-frying them.
If you are using fresh noodles, you just need to rinse them with water to separate them if they are too sticky. If the noodle strings are sticking to each other a lot, you definitely need to separate them with your hands before adding them to the stir-fry.
Protein - It is most popular with chicken at Thai street food stalls. Ground pork, beef, prawns and seafood are also available as other options. Chicken or ground pork is mostly used but you can swap with your favourite meat or seafood at home. Because why not!
Vegetables -Don’t skip Basil! Because this dish is basically spicy noodles with basil fragrant. Thai basil or Thai holy basil leaves are ideal to use but what’s important is to add any basil you can find. You will also need fresh chilies and spring onions to enhance the flavour.
Drunken Noodles Sauce- Fish sauce, oyster sauce, white sugar ( or brown sugar ) , light soy, and dark soy sauce will be needed for the sauce. Details are written in the recipe card below.
How to make Drunken Noodles
- First, prepare the rice noodles according to the packet instructions.
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
- Season the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of sauce mixture. Mix it well and set it aside.
- Heat the large wok or pan to medium-high heat and stir fry the onions until translucent then follow with the garlic, and chillies.
- Next, add chicken and stir fry for 2-3 minutes then add the stem part of Chinese broccoli and follow with the leaves.
- Place the noodles in the pan and pour the sauce in. Continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes or until cooked through.
- Turn off the heat and add a handful of basil leaves. Toss everything well.
- Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.
- Use the rice noodles: Opt for flat wide rice noodles which are great for stir-frying. They have a wider shape and can hold up the rich bold flavour of the stir-fry sauce.
- Prepare the ingredients ahead: Make sure to gather all the ingredients and prepare them before you start cooking. Chop up the vegetables and cut your choice of protein into thin slices or small cubes.
- A kick of spice is essential: Pad Kee Mao recipe is famous for this spicy kick. Use spicy Thai chilli peppers or a choice of hot chilli peppers to add heat. But you can adjust the amount according to your personal taste. If you are new to hot and spicy stir-fries, start with a small amount and increase the amount gradually.
- Adjust the flavours: Thai cooking is all about the perfect combination of spicy-sweet-salty-sour. You can also add freshly squeezed lime juice to add tanginess to balance out the saltiness. Customize the sauce ingredients to suit your taste.
Frequently asked questions
Pad Thai is made of thin rice noodles and has a sweet, sour, and salty taste. It usually consists of shrimp, chicken, tofu, bean sprouts, egg, and crunchy peanuts. On the other hand, Pad Kee Mao is made of wide rice noodles and has a bold, spicy, savoury taste. It features meat like beef, chicken, pork, or pork belly, with green vegetables like Kai Lan ( Chinese broccoli ) and Thai basil.
The name " Drunken Noodles " originated from the notion that this spicy noodle dish is a great choice for a hangover. The bold and spicy flavour is a cure for the drunken state in Thailand.
Thai rice noodles, used in Pad Keep Mao are made of rice flour and water. The noodles are flat, wide, and chewy in texture. Perfect for adding in stir-fry dishes with a combination of meat, seafood, vegetables and savoury Thai stir-fry sauces.
More fantastic rice noodle recipes
Here is more of our family's favourite Asian Rice Noodles Recipes you might like:
- Chicken and Rice Noodle Stir Fry
- Tom Yum Soup & Noodles
- Beef Chow Fun
- Beef Noodle Soup
- Pad See Eww
- Glass Noodles Stir Fry
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Drunken Noodles ( Pad Kee Mao )
- 250 g Chicken thigh Boneless skinless chicken thigh/breast ( about ½ lb )
- 100 g Dried rice noodles Dry rice stick 100mm (Or fresh rice noodles 250-300 g)
- 3 stalk Chinese Broccoli ( Kai Lan/ Gai Lan ) or Pak Choy/ Bok Choy/ Tenderstem Broccoli
- 2 cloves Garlic Finely chopped
- 1 Shallot Finely chopped
- 3-4 Bird Eye Chilli Or any hot chilli ( adjust amount according to taste )
- 1 Red Chilli Pepper Or red bell pepper
- handful Basil leaves Thai/ Italian/ Regular Sweet Basil
- 2-3 tbsp Vegetable oil Or neutral flavour oil
- 2 tbsp Light soy sauce
- 3 tbsp Oyster sauce
- 2 tsp Dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Fish sauce
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- Lime Wedges
- Red Chilli Slices
- First soak the dry rice noodles in warm water for 15-20 minutes then drain the water out and set it aside. Cut the chicken thigh into medium bite-size pieces. Cut stem part of Chinese broccoli into 1" pieces and leaves into 2" pieces. Separate the stem and leaves. Finely chop the shallot, garlic and onion.
- Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and sugar in a small bowl. Mix well until sugar dissolve and set it aside. To season the chicken pieces, add 1 tablespoon of sauce mixture, mix well and set aside.
- Heat the large wok/pan into medium-high heat, drizzle 2-3 tablespoon of oil. Add chopped shallot and stir fry until translucent, then follow with the garlic, stir for few seconds. Next add the chopped chillies and continue stir fry for about 1 minute, until nice fragrant comes out.
- Then add the chicken and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until no longer pink, then add the stem part of Chinese broccoli stir for 1 minute and follow with leaves.
- Stir for few seconds, place the noodles in the middle of the wok. Pour the sauce over the noodles. Stir fry with high heat for about 2 minutes until the noodles are cooked through, then add the chilli slices and continue stir fry for another 1-2 minutes.
- Last, turn off the heat and add a handful of basil leaves. Combine well with everything.
- Transfer to serving plate and serve immediately. Garnish with lime wedges and chilli slices.
- Dark Soy Sauce - Suggest to add dark soy sauce in this recipe to bring more colour to the noodles.
- Fish Sauce - Fish sauce is made from fermented anchovies, small fishes or squid. It has a unique funky smell but the taste is umami, rich, salty and savoury. Must add ingredient to make Pad Kee Mao sauce. You can easily find it in Asian/ Oriental grocery stores or supermarket Asian counter.
- Fish Sauce Substitute - You can simply substitute with light soy sauce, or tamari.