Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)

Pad Kee Mao in skillet



Pad Kee Mao is a traditional Thai dish with ground pork, wide rice noodles and plenty of fresh basil. Doused in a sauce typical of thai cuisine which is perfectly balanced with heat, tanginess and sweetness – Coming from thai chiles, rice wine vinegar and sweet soy sauce.

I didn’t grow up eating Thai food. In the small town of Jamestown, NY, where I spent my teenage years, we didn’t even have a thai restaurant. We had one chinese buffet in town, and that was about as exotic as it got for me back then – My favorites were beef & broccoli or fried rice. I grew up in a large Italian family and my Nana and Nanu did the majority of the cooking – We’d have massive Sunday night dinners consisting of gravy, carduni, and cannolis. Such amazing food but basically the same thing week after week. You know what though? I never got bored of their delicious cooking…

After graduating high school, I moved from the east coast to the west coast, attending the University of Oregon. It was during that time that my ethnic food experiences increased quite a bit. College towns always seem to have an amazing variety of food. I still ate my fair share of Taco Bell (89-cent bean burritos can’t be beat on a college student budget!). But, I also had my first tastes of sushi, pad thai and falafel. My dad introduced me to sushi with a bang – ordering a wide selection of items to sample, from the basic California roll (which I loved) to uni (sea urchin). When the uni arrived at our table, my dad (the biologist) had to check it out and determine which part of the urchin we were actually eating. After close examination, he exclaimed “You know what?! This is the gonadsWe’re eating the sea urchin gonads.” Ummm…. Thanks pop…  Still to this day, I never order uni in a sushi restaurant. Never will.

Let’s get back to this dish – Also known as drunken noodles, Pad Kee Mao doesn’t actually have any alcohol in it. No one actually knows the true origin of the name. However, in the thai language, khi mao means drunkard. It’s believed that after a full day of drinking, thai men would come home and enjoy this dish, believing that the noodles would draw some of the alcohol out of their systems and help with hangovers in the morning. Another theory is that you would need to be drunk to enjoy this dish, as it is so spicy, the only way that you can handle the heat is to be numbed a bit from the alcohol.

Wherever the name comes from, I’m just here to tell you that it’s super yummy. The ingredients can be a bit difficult to find. You may need to make a stop at the Asian market to find the wide rice noodles, sweet soy sauce and thai basil. But, if you don’t have an Asian market near you, feel free to do some improvising.

rice noodles soaking for pad kee mao

I was able to pick up most of the ingredients, including the thai basil and sweet soy sauce at our local Fred Meyer. The only thing I wasn’t able to find was the wide rice noodles, so instead, I just swapped in some thinner cut rice noodles. You could also use regular pasta in place of the rice noodles – Cook it just short of al dente and add it in the same manner provided in the recipe. And, if you’re not able to find the sweet soy sauce, you can use regular soy sauce with a pinch of brown sugar. The taste will be a tad different, but still super yummy.

One word of warning: This dish is VERY SPICY as the recipe is written. To cut back on the heat a bit, use only the three chiles that are chopped with the garlic. You can skip the additional two which are sprinkled on top of the Pad Kee Mao after cooking. And, here’s a tip for you: Use a potato masher to break up the pork as it browns. It works extremely well.

To pair with this delightfully spicy, tangy, salty Pad Kee Mao, I chose a bottle of dry Rosé that I also picked up at Fred Meyer. They had so many of my favorite bottles to choose from, but for this particular dish, I chose one of my favorite local wines, a Stoller Pinot Noir Rosé. With a mouthwatering acidity and hint of grapefruit, it was the perfect pairing with the lime juice that’s squeezed over the finished noodles and it balanced out the saltiness of the Pad Kee Mao perfectly.

Two plates of pad kee mao on black dishes next to rosé wine and dish of limes

Fun Fact: Did you know that National Rosé Day is the second Saturday in June? This year’s National Rosé Day is June 9, 2018, so get ready by picking up all the ingredients for this Pad Kee Mao (and maybe for this Thai Beef Salad too),  plus a few bottles of Rosé to sample alongside. To help you out, here’s a list of some of my favorite Rosé wines under $10 that are widely available at Fred Meyer. National Rosé Day is the perfect excuse the invite over some friends and celebrate. Cheers, friends!  

Pad Kee Mao in skillet

Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)

Course: Entree
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: drunken noodles, pad kee mao
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 787 kcal
Author: Erin

Pad Kee Mao is a traditional Thai dish with ground pork, wide rice noodles and plenty of fresh basil. Doused in a sauce typical of thai cuisine which is perfectly balanced with heat, tanginess and sweetness – Coming from thai chiles, rice wine vinegar and sweet soy sauce.

Print

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 5 serrano peppers or thai chiles
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 12 ounces wide rice noodles
  • 2 handfuls Thai basil (or regular basil) roughly torn
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • Lime wedges for serving

Instructions

  1. Soak the rice noodles in warm tap water for 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. Stir together the fish sauce, soy sauce and vinegar, and set aside.
  3. Roughly chop the garlic and 3 of the chilies together. Chop the other two chilies, and set aside.
  4. Preheat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat; when hot, add the oil, the garlic/chile mixture and the onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic releases its fragrance, about 30 seconds. Add the pork and a splash of the sauce. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or potato masher, until the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

  5. Drain the noodles and add them with the bell peppers to the pan. Increase the heat to high, and add the sauce. Cook, tossing everything together and separating the noodles, until all ingredients are coated with the sauce and it thickens slightly.
  6. Toss in the basil, lime juice and the additional two chiles. Serve immediately with a side of lime wedges.

Nutrition Facts
Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 787 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35g 54%
Saturated Fat 17g 85%
Cholesterol 81mg 27%
Sodium 1878mg 78%
Potassium 533mg 15%
Total Carbohydrates 90g 30%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 13g
Protein 23g 46%
Vitamin A 21.1%
Vitamin C 57.4%
Calcium 5.4%
Iron 11.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tips for making Pad Kee Mao at home:

  • Use a potato masher to break up the pork as it cooks.
  • If you’re hosting a group, try serving this alongside a thai beef salad to make things stretch a bit.
  • To keep your basil fresh at home trim the ends and place them in a glass of water. Place a plastic bag over the top and keep it on your counter (not the refrigerator). It should last for nearly a week this way.

Other Wine Pairings for Pad Kee Mao:

Plate of pad kee mao ready to eat

I teamed up with Kroger to bring you this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Pad Kee Mao is a traditional Thai dish with ground pork, wide rice noodles and plenty of fresh basil. Doused in a sauce typical of thai cuisine which is perfectly balanced with heat, tanginess and sweetness – Coming from thai chiles, rice wine vinegar and sweet soy sauce. #asianfood #padkeemao #drunkennoodles #easydinner

41 comments

  1. Valerie Cathell Clark

    I just love thai and your dish looks amazing! Beautiful blog! How have I not found you before? I’m your newest fan! LOve everything food and wine!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Aawww – Thanks Valerie! People who love food are always the best people 😉

      Reply

  2. Catherine

    Sea urchin gonads—that is hilarious! If I won I’d buy a new set of plates and bowls. Many of our bowls have chipped, and the set is plain white – kind of boring. Fingers xed!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Don’t they sound good 😉
      New plates would be awesome!!!

      Reply

  3. Kira

    That dish sounds amazing. And I would put that gift card toward a new set of pots and pans.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      New pots and pans are the BEST! I just got some for Christmas this year!

      Reply

  4. Ali

    Maybe some new linens for the table.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Ali – Williams-Sonoma has such pretty linens! Nice pick!

      Reply

  5. Pech

    I think I would go for an ice cream maker with the gift card! Delicious photos on the post!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Good luck Pech and great choice on the ice cream maker 🙂

      Reply

  6. Mary Ann Ford

    i like your recipe and am excited to try it! I like the wine pairings too. It’s great to have a recommendation on a wine I may not have tried. If I won the contest I would buy gadgets and things I haven’t tried. I love to experiment with food.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Kitchen gadgets are the BEST gadgets! Good luck!

      Reply

    1. Erin

      It’d be perfect for the Pad Kee Mao!

      Reply

  7. Melissa

    Pad kee mao is my husband’s favorite thai dish, so I have no excuse not to make it at home now! If I won, I’d buy a copper pot.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Ooohhh… A copper pot sounds pretty awesome! Good luck!

      Reply

  8. Carla S

    I would buy kitchen storage stuff or new cutlery.

    Reply

  9. MelodyJ

    I would buy baking supplies.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Good luck Melody!

      Reply

  10. nancy

    Your dish looks amazing ! I can’t wait to try it! I would also like an ice cream maker, when I look at the ingredient list (even on the “natural” brands) …I go home without ice cream!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Thanks Nancy – Good luck to you!

      Reply

  11. Stephanie C

    I would love to buy a really nice knife set, a Kitchenaid mixer, and a great set of cookware. There are so many amazing things to buy at Williams Sonoma!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Good luck Stephanie!

      Reply

  12. Tracie Cooper

    I would use it towards new pots and pans after my kitchen remodel!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Good luck Tracie! New pots and pans are the best!!!

      Reply

  13. Brian Wineland

    My daughter is a pescetarian. I’m thinking shrimp and scallops would be good pork substitute. Thoughts?

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Definitely! That sounds delicious Brian!!!

      Reply

  14. Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife

    I always wondered about the story behind the name of drunken noodles. I like the general theory you mentioned that people subscribe to 🙂 This dish looks sooo delicious, Erin!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Thanks Marlynn! Cheers!

      Reply

  15. Waz

    Looks delicious, especially in that Finex pan! I love Drunken Noodles, but I’ve never tried making them at home before. I’ll have to whip up a vegan version soon.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Definitely Waz! These would be so easy to make vegan – I’d love to hear back on your adjustments.

      Reply

  16. Catherine @ To & Fro Fam

    Pad kee mao is my go-to dish whenever I eat out at a Thai restaurant, but I’ve never made it myself. I can’t wait to give this recipe a try so I can customize it just the way I love it—with extra veggies! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      You’re so welcome Catherine – I hope you enjoy!

      Reply

  17. Mary

    I cannot wait to try this! It looks and sounds so delicious.
    Funny, we had similar food upbringings. I grew up in suburbia Phoenix and never had Thai until college either. I’m hooked and we eat it weekly now. I love this dish (gimme all the spice!) and can’t wait to try your version. Ps, I’d totally go rosé too!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Yay for Rosé and Thai food!

      Reply

  18. Pech

    Nooooo it’s not too late to still love Uni, it’s so delicious! I love that you really spiced up the recipe to bring up the 🔥 .

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I don’t know Pech… I just cannot get into it!

      Reply

  19. Ben Myhre

    The first time my mom brought me to a Thai place… probably at about 13… what a day! I love Thai food and vividly remember eating some killer Tom Kah soup that I still think about.

    Reply

  20. Kathryn

    These look fabulous! They are definitely going into my weeknight meal rotation ASAP!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      They’re so yummy Kathryn – Spicy though! I always have to tame the heat down a bit for Rick 🙂

      Reply

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