Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)
October 6, 2008 § 2 Comments
One of my favorite Thai dishes is Pad Kee Mao, also known as Thai Drunken Noodles or Thai Spicy Noodles. I’ve been playing with the idea of making some Thai dishes at home since a friend of mine said it was easy. I’ve tried making Shrimp Pad Thai (the Mister likes Pad Thai) and although it turned out pretty good, the recipe needs some adjustment for my taste. So I’ll wait to post on that once I get the right adjustments in place.
But I think I’m pretty close on the Pad Kee Mao as to how “I” like my Drunken Noodles. As usual, I searched various food blogs and recipe sites as a starting point. One thing I learned was that there are as many variations of Pad Kee Mao as there is Pad Thai and meatloaf. So the task at hand was to figure out which recipes sounded good to me. Keep in mind that I’m not too fond of very vinegary type dishes so I knew I had to make adjustments some of the recipes. I narrowed it down to 4 different ones and started my plan of attack. I made my grocery list and headed over to 99 Ranch Market for supplies.
For some reason, I was a bit out of sorts that morning and had a hard time finding things on my list. I arrived at 99 Ranch a little later than I typically do so maybe the crowd was throwing me off. Anyway, I had sen-yai noodles (wide flat rice noodles) on my list but I just couldn’t seem to find them on the shelf. So rather drive myself nuts, I settled on a bit wider rice noodles than those you normally have with Pad Thai. I also decided to go with fried tofu instead of firm tofu. I don’t know why, it was just some spontaneous moment lapse of judgement. I decided to go with shrimp since that’s what I usually order at restaurants and the shrimp looked good that day and on sale, double bonus!
The one thing I’ve learned about working with rice noodles is that you kind of have to work quickly with it or else you risk of creating a gigantic clump of sticky mess. So I pre-measured all my ingredients before cooking, but with more ingredients within quick reach for taste adjustments. I also boiled a pot of water and then turned the heat off so it will be all ready to cook the rice noodles. Don’t blink because the rice noodles will cook that fast, which is why I have the pot of hot water ready and waiting.
With very little hiccup, the final product turned out better than I had expected. Not that I expected to completely bomb but I wasn’t sure how close these recipes were to the restaurant Spicy Noodles that I love so much. I think I came pretty close. On a scale of 1-10 for heat, this was about a 2-3. I usually like it around 5 so that’s definitely something I’ll play with more in the future. But I really enjoyed the overall taste and the Mister gave it a thumbs up. Here’s the final product.
CAB’s Shrimp Pad Kee Mao
8 ounces (about 1/2 package) of sen-yai rice noodles or other wider rice noodles
1/2 lb of shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 cup of firm tofu, cut into small cubes
2 cloves of garlic, minced and split into 2 piles (1/2 for shrimp, 1/2 for noodles)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 Tablespoon of minced onion (I took some of the onion slices and minced)
2 Tablespoon Canola oil (1 Tbsp for shrimp, 1 Tbsp for sauce/noodles)
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons of palm sugar (or brown sugar)
2 Tablespoons ground red chili (adjust to desired heat level)
1/8 teaspoon (a dash) white pepper
1 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional, adjust to desired heat level)
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
1/4 cup of chicken broth (as needed to keep noodles from sticking)
Soak the rice noodles in water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Start a pot of water (about 4 quarts) to boil. Turn heat off.
In a bowl, combine rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, palm or brown sugar, dried ground chili and white pepper. If you are adding tofu, you can marinade the tofu in the marinade to enhance the flavor. Leave the tofu in the marinade as you prepare the rest of the dish.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in wok on medium high heat. Add 1/2 of the minced garlic and the minced onions and cook for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and cook until all pink and almost done. Remove from heat and set aside. Don’t cook the shrimp all the way through because you will be adding the shrimp back in with the noodles at the end.
Add the soaked rice noodles into the hot pot of water. Taste the noodles at 60 seconds to test for al dente. Don’t let the noodles cook too long or else you’ll end up with mushy noodles. As soon as noodles are al dente, drain and rinse with cold water. The cold water will stop any further cooking.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to wok and heat for 30 seconds at medium-high. Add the sliced onion, jalapeno and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Don’t brown the garlic.
Before adding the rice noodles to the wok, check to see if there are any sticking. If so, rinse with cold water to break up any sticking of the noodles.
Add noodles and tofu and marinade to wok. Turn the heat to high. Stir frequently. As the sauce begins to reduce, add basil leaves, oyster sauce, soy sauce and cooked shrimp. Combine thoroughly and heat through. If the noodles start to stick, add chicken stock to help loosen up the noodles. Taste and adjust with more fish sauce and chili pepper flakes as needed. Serve hot.
I think this is one of those dishes where it’ll continue to evolve and change as I tweak it based on what my taste is on that day. But this certainly provides a good foundation to work from.
Have a wonderful week. Now go and eat well.