Pad Kee Mao

Kee Mao Drunken Noodles platingsandpairings.com

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 was SO excited when I learned to make my favorite Thai dish at home! Pad Kee Mao | platingsandpairings.com

Pad Kee Mao (or Drunken Noodles) is a delicious Thai dish that's easy to make at home! | platingsandpairings.com

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 – 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 Sunday night dinners consisting of pasta suco, 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 (hey, 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 in a BIG way! Ordering a wide selection of items to sample, from the basic California roll (loved!) to uni (sea urchin). When the uni arrived at our table, my dad (the biologist that he is) 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! Appetite decreased….

Pad Kee Mao (or Drunken Noodles) is a delicious Thai dish that's easy to make at home! | platingsandpairings.com

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.

Pad Kee Mao (or Drunken Noodles) is a delicious Thai dish that's easy to make at home! | platingsandpairings.com

Wherever the name comes from, I’m just here to tell you that it’s D-E-LICIOUS! (I made it TWICE in one week!!!) 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. If you don’t have an Asian market near you, feel free to do some improvising. 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. You can also use regular soy sauce with a pinch of brown sugar and basil. The taste will be a tad different, but still super yummy. Also, this dish is 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 after cooking.

Kee Mao Drunken Noodles platingsandpairings.com

Pad Kee Mao

Course: Entree
Cuisine: Thai
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Erin @ Platings & Pairings - Inspired by Mark Bittman

Pad Kee Mao (or Drunken Noodles) is a delicious Thai dish that's easy to make at home! | platingsandpairings.com

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Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 5 Thai chiles
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 12 ounces wide rice noodles
  • 2 handfuls Thai basil
  • 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, 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 and the additional two chiles. Serve immediately with a side of lime wedges.

Tips:

  • If you’re hosting a group, try serving this alongside a thai salad to make things stretch a bit. I’ve got great options here, here and here.
  • 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!

Wine Pairings for Pad Kee Mao:

27 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

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