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Pad Kee Mao Recipe (Drunken Noodle)

Pad Kee Mao Recipe

Are you curious to learn everything there is to know about Pad Kee Mao, also known as Thai drunken noodles? Well, look no further! In this article, we will delve into the origins of this beloved Thai dish and explore its cultural significance. If you’re interested in making it yourself, we’ve got you covered with a delicious Pad Kee Mao Recipe to try at home.

We will also uncover regional variations that add unique flavors and spices to the mix. Additionally, we’ll discuss the role of spices and seasonings in creating the perfect balance of heat and flavor.

Furthermore, we’ll enlighten you on the different noodle choices available for drunken noodle dishes. And did you ever wonder why it’s called ‘drunken’ noodles? We’ve got the story behind that intriguing name too!

The Origins of Pad Kee Mao

The origins of Pad Kee Mao can be traced back to the vibrant streets of Thailand. Its creation was fueled by a rich cultural tapestry and a dash of culinary rebellion. This beloved dish is known for its spicy and bold flavors, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Legend has it that Pad Kee Mao, also known as Drunken Noodles, got its name from the idea that it is the perfect cure for hangovers. It was believed that indulging in these fiery noodles after a night of heavy drinking would help alleviate the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Whether or not this claim holds true, one thing is certain: Pad Kee Mao has become an iconic Thai street food.

The dish itself consists of wide rice noodles stir-fried with an array of ingredients. These include garlic, chili peppers, bell peppers, onions, and Thai basil leaves. The combination creates a symphony of flavors – spicy, savory, and slightly sweet – that dance on your taste buds with each mouthful.

Pad Kee Mao’s popularity grew rapidly throughout Thailand due to its delicious taste and affordability. It quickly became a go-to comfort food for locals who craved something satisfyingly spicy yet comforting. Over time, variations emerged with different protein options like chicken or shrimp added to enhance the overall flavor profile.

Today, you can find Pad Kee Mao not only on bustling street corners but also in upscale restaurants around the world. Its journey from humble beginnings to international fame showcases how a simple yet flavorful dish can transcend borders and capture people’s hearts (and stomachs) everywhere.

Cultural Significance of Drunken Noodles

Explore the cultural significance of this delectable dish by delving into its historical origins and regional variations. Drunken noodles, also known as Pad Kee Mao, hold a special place in Thai cuisine and are beloved by locals and tourists alike. These flavorful noodles have become an iconic representation of Thai street food culture.

In Thailand, Pad Kee Mao is often enjoyed after a night out on the town or during festive celebrations. The dish’s name, which translates to ‘drunken noodles,’ is believed to have originated from the idea that it is a perfect late-night snack for those who have had a few drinks. It is said that the bold flavors and spiciness of the dish can help cure any hangover.

Beyond its association with nightlife, Pad Kee Mao reflects the diversity of regional flavors found in Thai cuisine. Different regions in Thailand have their own variations of drunken noodles, each showcasing unique ingredients and preparation methods. For instance, in Bangkok, you’ll find a sweeter version with wider rice noodles and plenty of vegetables. Meanwhile, in northern Thailand, they prefer to use fresh chilies for an extra kick.

Moreover, Pad Kee Mao has gained international recognition as one of Thailand’s most famous dishes. Its inclusion on menus across the globe showcases how Thai cuisine has transcended borders and captured hearts worldwide. This cultural significance extends beyond just being a delicious meal; it represents the traditions and vibrant culinary heritage of Thailand.

Regional Variations of Pad Kee Mao Recipe

Each region in Thailand adds its own unique twist to this popular street food, resulting in a range of flavors and textures that will leave you craving for more.

In Bangkok, the heart of Thai cuisine, Pad Kee Mao is known for its fiery heat. The locals here love their noodles spicy and often add extra chili peppers to give it an extra kick. The combination of fresh Thai basil leaves, garlic, and chili creates a bold and vibrant flavor that is sure to excite your taste buds.

Traveling up north to Chiang Mai, you’ll find a milder version of Pad Kee Mao. Here, the focus is on balancing flavors rather than spiciness. The addition of soy sauce and oyster sauce gives the noodles a rich umami flavor while retaining a hint of sweetness. It’s a comforting bowl of noodles that warms both your body and soul.

Head down south to Phuket, and you’ll encounter another delightful variation. In this coastal region, seafood plays a prominent role in their cuisine. Pad Kee Mao here features succulent shrimp or squid cooked with fragrant lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. The result is a refreshing burst of citrusy flavors that perfectly complements the briny seafood.

Venturing into Isaan in northeastern Thailand reveals yet another interpretation of Pad Kee Mao. Known for its bold flavors, Isaan cuisine incorporates fermented fish sauce called pla raa into their dishes. This pungent ingredient adds depth to the stir-fried noodles along with an irresistible tanginess.

As you explore these regional variations, you’ll realize that there isn’t just one way to enjoy Pad Kee Mao. Each rendition offers its own unique blend of flavors that reflect the culinary traditions and preferences of different regions in Thailand.

The Role of Spices and Seasonings

The key spices used in Pad Kee Mao are Thai bird’s eye chili, garlic, and holy basil.

Thai bird’s eye chili is a small but mighty ingredient that adds heat to the dish. It brings a fiery kick that enhances every bite of Pad Kee Mao.

Garlic, on the other hand, provides a pungent flavor that complements the other ingredients perfectly. Its aroma fills the air as it cooks, adding depth and richness to the overall dish.

Holy basil is an essential herb in Thai cooking and is commonly used in Pad Kee Mao. It has a distinct peppery flavor with hints of mint and cloves. The fragrant leaves add freshness to the dish and balance out the spiciness of the chili.

In addition to these three main spices, other seasonings such as soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce are also added to enhance the umami flavors of Pad Kee Mao. These savory condiments contribute depth and complexity to each mouthful.

When preparing Pad Kee Mao, it’s important to find a balance between these spices and seasonings. Too much chili can overpower the other flavors, while too little would result in a milder taste. Achieving just the right combination ensures that each bite bursts with an explosion of flavors.

Noodle Choices in Pad Kee Mao Recipe

When you order a plate of drunken noodles at your favorite Thai restaurant, you’ll be faced with the tantalizing decision of choosing between wide rice noodles or thin rice vermicelli to accompany the flavorful stir-fried dish. Both options have their own unique characteristics that can greatly enhance your dining experience.

Wide rice noodles, also known as ‘sen yai,’ are thick and flat. They have a chewy texture that adds a satisfying bite to each mouthful. These noodles are able to soak up the rich flavors of the sauce, allowing you to fully appreciate the complex blend of spices and seasonings in every bite. Their broad shape also makes them perfect for holding onto all the delicious ingredients in the dish, ensuring that you get a bit of everything with each forkful.

On the other hand, thin rice vermicelli, or ‘sen mee,’ are delicate and translucent. These thin strands cook quickly and have a silky-smooth texture that contrasts beautifully with the bold flavors of drunken noodles. The lightness of these noodles allows them to absorb just enough sauce without becoming too heavy or overwhelming. This lets other ingredients shine through while still providing a satisfying base for your meal.

Ultimately, whether you choose wide rice noodles or thin rice vermicelli is a matter of personal preference. Some people enjoy the substantial chewiness and ability to hold onto all those great flavors offered by wide rice noodles. Others prefer the delicate texture and lighter presence provided by thin rice vermicelli. Whichever option you go for, one thing is certain – both types of noodles will perfectly complement the aromatic spices and seasonings found in Pad Kee Mao, making your dining experience truly unforgettable.

Stir-Frying Techniques for Authentic Flavor

To truly elevate the flavors of your stir-fried dish, master the art of authentic stir-frying techniques that will transport you to the bustling streets of Thailand. Stir-frying is a fast and high-heat cooking method that requires quick reflexes and precision. The key is to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you even turn on the heat.

Start by heating your wok or skillet until it’s smoking hot. This ensures that your ingredients cook quickly and evenly, while also giving them that signature smoky flavor. Add a generous amount of oil, such as vegetable or peanut oil, and let it heat up for a few seconds before adding your aromatics, like minced garlic and chilies.

Once the aromatics are fragrant, swiftly add your protein of choice – whether it’s thinly sliced chicken, beef, or tofu – along with any vegetables you’re using. Keep everything moving constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.

The next step is crucial for achieving an authentic flavor: seasoning. Add a combination of sauces like fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and dark soy sauce for depth of flavor. Don’t be afraid to adjust the amounts according to your taste preferences.

Keep stirring everything vigorously until the protein is cooked through and the vegetables are tender-crisp. Remember, speed is key in stir-frying! Finally, add fresh herbs like Thai basil leaves or cilantro for an aromatic finish.

How to make Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodle) at home

Pad Kee Mao, also known as Drunken Noodles, is a popular Thai dish known for its spicy and savory flavors. It typically includes wide rice noodles, fresh vegetables, Thai basil, and a delicious sauce with a hint of heat. Here's a detailed recipe to make Pad Kee Mao at home
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Servings 4
Calories 489 kcal


  • Wok or large skillet A wok is ideal for stir-frying due to its curved shape, which allows for even heat distribution. However, if you don't have a wok, a large deep skillet or frying pan will work just fine.
  • Spatula or wooden spoon You'll need a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon for stirring and tossing the ingredients in the wok or skillet.
  • Knife and cutting board To chop and slice the vegetables, protein, and herbs, you'll need a sharp knife and a cutting board.
  • Bowl for Mixing Sauce: You'll need a bowl to combine the sauce ingredients, such as oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, etc.
  • Measuring spoons Measuring spoons are handy for accurately measuring the sauce ingredients, especially when it comes to balancing the flavors.
  • Cooking Oil Brush or Kitchen Towel: If you're using a wok, you might need a cooking oil brush or a kitchen towel to coat the wok's surface with oil before stir-frying.
  • Noodle Pot (Optional): If you need to cook the wide rice noodles before stir-frying, a pot or large saucepan to boil water will be useful.
  • Colander To drain and rinse the cooked noodles.
  • Tongs Tongs can be helpful for tossing the noodles and ingredients together without breaking the noodles.
  • Plate or Serving Dish: A large plate or serving dish to hold the finished Pad Kee Mao before serving.


For the Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce (or dark soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce (adjust to your spice preference)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai bird's eye chili (or more if you prefer it spicier), finely chopped (optional)

For the Noodles:

  • 340 g wide rice noodles
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sliced chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu (choose your protein)
  • 1 cup sliced bell peppers (use a mix of colors)
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup baby corn, halved (optional)
  • 1 cup broccoli florets (optional)
  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves (holy basil)


Thai basil leaves (holy basil)

  • n a bowl, combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, chili sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, and Thai bird's eye chili (if using). Stir well until the sugar dissolves. Set the sauce aside.

Cook the Noodles:

  • Cook the wide rice noodles according to the package instructions. Usually, you need to soak them in hot water for a few minutes until they soften and then drain them. Rinse with cold water to prevent sticking. Set the cooked noodles aside.

Prepare the Vegetables and Protein:

  • Wash and chop all the vegetables and protein of your choice. Keep them ready for stir-frying.

Stir-fry the Ingredients:

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok or a deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the minced garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds until it becomes fragrant but not browned.
  • Add your choice of protein (chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu) and cook until it's almost fully cooked through.

Add Vegetables and Noodles:

  • Toss in the sliced onions, bell peppers, carrots, baby corn (if using), and broccoli. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the vegetables start to soften but still have some crunch.

Add Sauce and Noodles:

  • Pour the prepared sauce over the vegetables and protein in the wok. Mix everything well so that the sauce coats all the ingredients evenly.
  • Add the cooked wide rice noodles to the wok and gently combine them with the vegetables and sauce. Be careful not to break the noodles while mixing.

Add Thai Basil and Final Touch:

  • Tear the Thai basil leaves and add them to the noodles. Stir to distribute the basil throughout the dish.
  • Taste the noodles and adjust the seasoning if needed. You can add more soy sauce, fish sauce, or chili sauce to suit your taste preferences.


  • Once everything is well combined and heated through, remove the Pad Kee Mao from the heat.
  • Serve the delicious Drunken Noodles hot and enjoy!


  • Noodles: Pad Kee Mao is traditionally made with wide rice noodles, but if you can’t find them, you can use other types of rice noodles or even fresh egg noodles as a substitute.
  • Protein: This recipe allows for flexibility in choosing your protein. Feel free to use chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, or a combination of these. Ensure that the protein is sliced thinly and cooked properly before adding the vegetables and noodles.
  • Vegetables: The vegetable selection in this recipe is just a suggestion. You can add or substitute with your favorite vegetables, such as snap peas, zucchini, mushrooms, or even Thai eggplant.
  • Spice Level: The level of spiciness can be adjusted to your liking. If you prefer it mild, reduce the amount of chili sauce or omit the Thai bird’s eye chili altogether. For a spicier kick, add more chili sauce or include additional chopped chilies.
  • Sauce Customization: The sauce plays a crucial role in the flavor of Pad Kee Mao. Feel free to adjust the sauce ingredients to match your taste preferences. If you like it sweeter, add more brown sugar. For a more savory taste, increase the soy sauce or fish sauce.
  • Thai Basil: Thai basil, also known as holy basil, is a key ingredient in this dish. It has a distinct peppery and slightly sweet flavor. If you can’t find Thai basil, you can use sweet basil as a substitute, although it won’t have the same authentic taste.
  • Wok or Skillet: A wok is traditionally used for stir-frying in Thai cuisine, but if you don’t have one, a large deep skillet or frying pan will work just fine.
  • Preparation: As with any stir-fry recipe, it’s essential to have all your ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking. Stir-frying is a quick process, and having everything ready will prevent overcooking or burning.
  • Garnish: Feel free to garnish your Pad Kee Mao with some fresh cilantro, lime wedges, or chopped green onions for an extra burst of flavor and presentation.
  • Serve Hot: Pad Kee Mao is best served immediately while it’s still hot and fresh. Leftovers can be refrigerated but might lose some of their texture upon reheating.
Keyword noodles, Spicy, stir-fry

The meaning and story behind the name

The name Pad Kee Mao, also known as Drunken Noodles, carries a fascinating backstory that adds to the allure of this popular Thai dish. Legend has it that the dish was created by a late-night chef who stumbled upon a group of drunken partygoers. These revelers were hungry and demanded something spicy and flavorful to satisfy their cravings. The resourceful chef quickly gathered ingredients from his kitchen and whipped up a delicious stir-fried noodle dish.

The term ‘drunken’ in the name is not meant to imply that alcohol is an ingredient in the recipe. Rather, it refers to the state of mind of those who indulge in this delectable meal. The intense flavors and fiery spices are said to awaken the senses, similar to how alcohol can make one feel intoxicated.

Another theory behind the name suggests that the noodles are so deliciously addictive that they have a similar effect on people as alcohol does. Eating them can be so satisfying and pleasurable that it feels like indulging in something forbidden or intoxicating.

Regardless of its origins, Pad Kee Mao has become synonymous with bold flavors and vibrant colors. The combination of wide rice noodles stir-fried with garlic, chili peppers, Thai basil, soy sauce, fish sauce, and various other ingredients creates a harmonious blend of sweet, salty, spicy, and savory tastes.

Next time you savor a plate full of Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles at your favorite Thai restaurant or whip up your own version at home using our previous subtopic’s authentic stir-frying techniques for maximum flavor infusion, remember: there’s more to this dish than meets the eye. Its intriguing name adds an extra layer of mystique and excitement to an already delightful culinary experience.

Exploring the Global Popularity of Pad Kee Mao

From Thailand to New York City, Pad Kee Mao, also known as drunken noodles, has gained popularity for its bold flavors and fiery kick.

One reason for its global appeal is its versatility. Whether you’re in a bustling city or a remote village, you can find variations of Pad Kee Mao that cater to different tastes and preferences. In Thailand, it’s commonly enjoyed with fresh seafood like shrimp or squid, while in other parts of the world, it may be paired with chicken or beef. The dish’s ability to adapt to local ingredients and culinary traditions has made it a favorite among both locals and tourists.

Another factor contributing to Pad Kee Mao’s popularity is its vibrant combination of flavors. The dish typically features wide rice noodles stir-fried with garlic, chili peppers, basil leaves, and various sauces like soy sauce or oyster sauce. This medley of spices creates a harmonious balance between heat and savory notes that keeps people coming back for more.

Furthermore, Pad Kee Mao’s generous portions make it perfect for sharing with friends or family. It’s often served in large portions at street food stalls or casual restaurants, allowing diners to enjoy the communal experience of sharing a hearty meal together.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the health benefits of Pad Kee Mao?

Pad Kee Mao, also known as Drunken Noodles, offers health benefits despite being a delicious dish.

The main ingredients like rice noodles and vegetables provide essential nutrients while being low in fat.

Additionally, the dish often includes protein sources such as tofu or shrimp that can help with muscle repair and growth.

However, be mindful of the sodium content in sauces used, as excessive consumption may lead to health issues.

Can I substitute the noodles in Pad Kee Mao with a different type?

Yes, you can substitute the noodles in Pad Kee Mao with a different type. By using a different noodle variety, you can experiment with different flavors and textures.

Rice noodles are commonly used in Pad Kee Mao, but you could try using wheat or egg noodles for a twist. Just keep in mind that the choice of noodles may alter the overall taste and authenticity of the dish.

Are there any specific cooking techniques to achieve the authentic flavor of Pad Kee Mao?

To achieve the authentic flavor of Pad Kee Mao, there are a few specific cooking techniques you can follow.
First, make sure to use high heat when stir-frying the ingredients to create that smoky and charred taste.
Secondly, don’t overcook the noodles – they should be slightly chewy for that perfect texture.
Finally, adding Thai basil and fish sauce towards the end of cooking will give it that signature aroma and savory taste.

What are some common misconceptions about the origins of Pad Kee Mao?

There are some common misconceptions about the origins of Pad Kee Mao. One misconception is that it is a traditional Thai dish. However, the truth is that Pad Kee Mao is actually a relatively modern dish.

Another misconception is that it was created by someone named Kee Mao. However, the name “Pad Kee Mao” actually translates to “drunken noodles” in English.

Pad Kee Mao originated in Thailand’s vibrant street food culture. It became popular for its bold flavors and spicy kick.

Overall, it’s important to understand that Pad Kee Mao is not a traditional Thai dish and was not created by someone named Kee Mao. It is a modern dish that has gained popularity for its delicious taste and unique name.


In conclusion, Pad Kee Mao, also known as drunken noodles, is a delicious and popular Thai dish that has gained global recognition.

With its origins rooted in Thailand and various regional variations, it showcases the diverse culinary traditions of the country.

The use of spices and seasonings adds depth and flavor to the dish, while different noodle choices cater to individual preferences.

Whether you prefer a traditional recipe or opt for vegetarian or vegan options, Pad Kee Mao is sure to satisfy your taste buds.

So go ahead and enjoy this flavorful and hearty dish with some popular side dishes for a complete Thai dining experience!

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