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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pad Kee Mao Gai

I've already mentioned my love of/obsession with Thai food in my post on Gai Pad Grapow. In the comments of that post, I mentioned that I wanted to make pad kee mao next, as it was one of Steve's favorite Thai dishes. Turns out it's one of mine too. I crave it now almost as often as any of my other standbys. And tonight was finally the time to give it a shot.

As with any stir fry, you want to have everything prepped before you start. Suggestion: put the chicken in the freezer until stiff so you can easily slice it as thinly as you'd like.


About halfway through...


The noodles get tossed in...


And done!


EAT.


Pad Kee Mao Gai
(Drunken Noodles with Chicken)
adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil
12 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai chiles
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced into thin pieces (about 1" x 1/4")
1/4 cup fish sauce (I used nuoc nam)
1/4 cup black soy sauce
1/4 cup Golden Mountain sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
28 ounces fresh wide rice noodles (they come in a 2-pound bag; I just scaled back a bit), separated into individual noodles

Method

Heat oil in wok over high heat. When oil begins to smoke, add garlic, onion and Thai chiles. Stir fry until golden, no more than a minute.

Add chicken, fish sauce, black soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce and palm sugar (note: it will seem very saucy; don't worry, the noodles will soak it all up later). Stir fry for 2 minutes, then add red and yellow bell peppers. Continue stir frying for 2 to 3 more minutes until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft.

Turn off heat, add basil and stir until just wilted. Add the rice noodles and toss thoroughly to coat. Serve immediately.

NOTES

Oh man, it was awesome. No pretense here, no beating around the bush. This kicked ass. One bite and I was jumping for joy. I just couldn't believe it: my pad kee mao tasted like pad kee mao!

I was just so damn thrilled. Before making this, I looked online quite a bit for recipes, and for tips, and plenty of other home cooks said they have never been able to achieve that "Thai restaurant" flavor of pad kee mao at home. So, I honestly didn't think I would nail the flavor my first time out of the gate. But I did. And now I feel even more confident about moving forward with all my other Thai favorites. I think that's almost the best part. That, and having leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

So happy!

58 comments:

Julia said...

That's so great! I love the wide, fresh rice noodles too, but I don't think I've ever had "Drunken Noodles." Sounds like I need to trot over to Chinatown, get me some noodles and give this recipe a try!

Do you know what "Golden Mountain" sauce is?

Amy said...

And here I sit at 7am...reading...drooling...wanting this for breakfast. Is that wrong?

Love the absence of green bell peppers - is that you or the original recipe?

Super kudos on your ability to replicate!! I know the high that brings.

Holy shit does that look good.

Melissa said...

Thanks Amy! It's like you with your beef and broccoli. :) And the absence of green bell peppers is all me. The original recipe called for green + tomatoes. Not for me.

Julia, it's very similar to light soy sauce but it has wheat flour in it. It's thicker like oyster sauce and definitely provides something different, as does the black soy sauce. And I was going to write a long paragraph about using the specified ingredients but I chucked it. And apparently they're called "drunken" or "drunkard's" because people eat them drunk? They're really spicy for that reason too? Stories vary, as most food origin stories do.

SaintTigerlily said...

Ok, so what if we don't like bell peppers at all...how would you suggest altering?

Melissa said...

You freak. :P

No, actually, in Thailand, pad kee mao almost never has bell peppers at all. I had a red and yellow at home that needed to be used and I thought this would be a good way. Howevah - the flavoring of the sauce, chiles and basil are far more important here. The vegetables can vary (onion, shallot, peppers, broccoli, leeks, carrots, cauliflower, whatever the eff) as can the meat, though (ground) chicken or pork are used most often.

Cali said...

after reading the variations i'm wanting this even more than when i first read the post.

ok, so i'm having a bad day, can you come cook this for me tonight? :)

elmomonster said...

Hmm...don't know what happened to my earlier posted comment. It went *poof*!

Anyway, what I was saying was that I need to try this since I'm getting tired of making pad see ew. The part where you said you've verified this recipe tastes like a restaurant's sold me!

...but which restaurant? Thai Nakorn? Siam? Sutha? I'm curious. Not that it matters!

Melissa said...

E - Steve and I said it was like a cross between Sutha and Nakorn. The only reason we hold Siam's in just slightly higher regard is because he somehow manages to make the noodles not break or clump. I'll have to practice that.

And where do you buy your noodles??

Melissa said...

D - honey, tonight, I really wish I could. ♥

elmomonster said...

I buy 'em at Saigon City. It's usually whatever is cheapest. But that ends up being this one in the blue package, if I recall correctly. I'll have to pay more attention next time what the brand is called.

Kevin said...

Great blog! I've been wanting to get into thai food and this is definitely inspiring. If you're bored and have a sec...just out my blog: themightyrib.blogspot.com

Holly said...

Wow! You make this look so easy. I haven't gotten the guts to cook thai food at home as of yet, but your posts are very inspiring :)

Melissa said...

Holly, with the right ingredients from the Thai market in Anaheim, and my new wok, I couldn't believe how easy it was. You should do it!

Thanks Kevin!

Psychgrad said...

This would be a hit at our place. I find it's so hard to make Thai dishes from scratch that actually taste like something you could get at a restaurant. If the look of the dish is an indicator, this dish could be an exception.

Melissa said...

PG, as I said to Holly above, you just need the right ingredients - black soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce, Thai chiles, Thai basil - once you have those, the rest is easy as can be, and it WILL taste like the restaurant stuff! :D

Jessica said...

This looks so good. I've never tried adding fish sauce to anything, but so many recipes call for it. I'm not a big fan of fish...does it taste, you know, "fishy?"

jessyburke88@gmail.com

Melissa said...

Jessica, it really doesn't. Though Vietnamese fish sauce, to me, is funkier, so try to get Thai. It's really just very salty, but has a great effect when used in a stir fry. Or to pickle the Thai chiles.

KristiB said...

I make this a few times a year and LOVE it! My boyfriend has trouble eating spicy food so I either tone it down a bit or make it when he's out of town.

Jessica my favorite Thai fish sauce is Golden Boy brand and if I can't find that I use Squid. Fish sauce works like anchovies in Italian food. It adds depth(umami) not fish flavor.

Melissa said...

Kristi, that's so perfect, I can't believe I didn't think to say it that way. Yes, it adds umami! And I love these too. I may have to make some tonight with my odds and ends and leftover chicken!

eatinqueens said...

I'll have to practice that.

biz319 said...

This looks absolutely delicious - I've recently discovered a love of Thai food.

Did I miss it - what exactly is Golden Mountain sauce??

Melissa said...

Golden Mountain sauce is a sweeter, saltier soy sauce. You really need GM sauce, light soy sauce, black soy sauce, fish sauce, etc., etc. to recreate true Thai flavors at home, like what you have in the restaurants. I didn't think it was possible, but with the bottles of all the sauces and Thai chiles and basil in hand, it was perfect!

Katherine Aucoin said...

Melissa, Surprise!!!

I've taken some time off..you know what I mean, you get burnt out.

Coming here this afternoon is like finding a present under the Christmas tree for me. I love Thai and stir fry and want to try this.

I'm going to have to hunt down a few of the exotic ingredients but I think i can find them. This looks soooo delicious.

Glad all is well with you! ~Hugs~

Melissa said...

Hi Katherine! How wonderful to see you stop by here. I definitely know what you mean. ;) I do hope all is well with you now.

michelle@TNS said...

this makes me wish that brian liked thai food, it looks (and sounds) most excellent. congrats on your success!

Pam said...

Nicely done! Thai cooking is intimidating to me... you made this look easy. It looks FANTASTIC!

Kitchen Barbarian said...

Duly bookmarked and in the line-up to try soon.

Just curious, what happened to all your posts before Aug of 2009?

Melissa said...

I scrapped everything in July 2009 and started over. Personal reasons, though it seems a drastic thing, looking back on it. I saved all of the posts on my hard drive though and have been reposting certain favorites as I see fit. This page is much more about stuff I really want to save for myself now, rather than standard social food blogging, which I got a bit too wrapped up in, neurotic thing that I am. ;)

Thanks for visiting. I hope you make the Thai dishes I have here!

smellyrhinostudio said...

Terrific job! Well done, you two! Thanks for posting this recipe! We are also Thai freaks and have been trying so hard to replicate. This is the closest we've come.

We also add Bok Choy, dried red pepper flakes or dried red chinese chiles and a couple scrambled eggs as our local places do this too.

I measured everything exactly. We had dried noodles. I weighed them once they were ready and we ended up being able to add the whole package, which was around 40 ounces wet. We have a gigantic batch of yummy pad kee mao goodness...OMG, I am so excited, I can't wait to eat again!

We always have jasmine rice with ours too, probably out of habit to temper the 5 star heat!

THANKS THANKS THANKS!!

Melissa said...

smellyrhinostudio - I'm so glad you loved it like we did! And do! I have made this since, a few times, and served over various noodles and rice. Whatever works, whatever I have on hand, etc. If you like this one, you should really try the gai pad grapow I have on here as well. Made it again this week - it's a regular around here.

Anonymous said...

I just have discovered this dish at a Thai place. It was so spicy but great, I love the tofu with it or chicken..Now I can make it and my hubby and I can save the $17.00 for lunch (tip included) for a movie out or two, we are seniors and get a big discount at a neat living room theater place..yummee!!!!!!

Melissa said...

That's wonderful, Anonymous and I'm glad to be of help. As I said above, I make it with what I have on hand (proteins and vegetables can vary) and served it over rice instead and it's still come out great every time. Best of luck!

Gordon said...

Hi: just wished to say that I followed your recipe for Pad Kee Mao for dinner tonight- it was excellent. I have been trying to get the sauce right, and I will for the first time I got pretty close. I used Golden sauce, soy ( couldn't find Black soy at my Asian grocer) and oyster. One thing to say, I used about 8 bird chilies, which has to be about the 2 tablespoons your menu suggests, and it was up there heat wise , I think I would back off a bit next time. Anyway, thanks for a great Friday night dinner in Boston with snow

Melissa said...

You're welcome! I'm so thrilled to hear how it turned out for you. I would say re. the black soy - buy it online if you can't find it. It's definitely worth it for long-term Thai cooking at home. Fish sauce too.

And sorry about the spice level. :) I do love heat. So I don't think I can be trusted completely when I say something "isn't too spicy." ;)

Laura said...

WOW!!!!!!!!! I just made this tonight and it was SO SO SO good! Thanks!

Melissa said...

That's fantastic, Laura! I love hearing that.

Laura said...

I wanted to make sure you saw my response to your comment on my blog -

http://www.babystepsonline.net/blog/2011/05/09/drunken-noodles-are-safe-during-pregnancy/

Anonymous said...

Just saw your post. Love Thai dishes and have a variation of this recipe myself that I love. I also recently made Thom Kha Ghai and it was FANTASTIC. My fav Thai soup. Would love to see your version and compare. :)

Melissa said...

Mmm I love that soup. I don't make it at home, though, as my husband is not a fan of that one and I don't want to be eating it myself for days on end. It's something I get out at one local Thai place. :)

Anonymous said...

been wanting to make this dish for a long time. 2012, this post is still here, wow!
I live in a vary... uncultured part of the world. After some detective work, I've hunted down everything BUT the chilis. Do you have any suggestions for substitutes? I don't like things very spicey, mind...
Oh! Thanks for this post. This stuff looks good.

Melissa said...

Hi Anon! Glad to see you've returned and still want to make the Thai at home. As for the chiles, I think 1 serrano pepper would be a good substitute, or if you want to go even less spicy, one jalapeno. Minced, in either case. Best of luck and thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Not quite like my local restuarant does it, but I've got a snap-shot of the two flavors in my head, and I'm pretty sure I can get it closer. Next Time I'm going to try all Golden Mountain and no soy. A little bit more sugar, a bit more garlic (I used 4 instead of twelve, I'm thinking 8) and a bit more basil. I'm thinking I'll add some other veggies too, for next time. Maybe some Carrot and some of those bean pod things, assuming I can find the latter. But this was a valiant first attempt, and your recipe was an excellent base to build on and tinker with.

Melissa said...

I suppose all restaaurants are a bit different, but this tastes just like a cross between my and my husband's two favorite restaurants in Orange County, CA, so it works for us. :) Glad this gave you a good base, Anon. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe and found it very salty. The Golden Mountain sauce seems to be overpowering everything else, based on a post-meal taste tests of the different sauces on their own. The fish sauce is damn salty as well (Thai Kitchen brand, the only one I can get locally). Any suggestions for toning down the salt?

Melissa said...

Hmmm. Not sure. I still make this all the time and don't have issues with it, but I will remark that I am NOT a fan of Thai Kitchen fish sauce, not at ALL. I like their curry pastes fine, but a big resounding no on the sauce. It doesn't taste right. I tried numerous other versions from the Thai and Vietnamese markets - all good, all right where they need to be in flavor - but usually just get the Tiparos brand since I can find it in other stores near me as well:

http://www.amazon.com/TIPAROS-Tiparos-Fish-Sauce/dp/B0039X9KUQ

You may want to try ordering online if you are interested in making a go at Thai/Vietnamese cooking long-term.

As for the golden mountain seasoning, I use this brand:

http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Mountain-Seasoning-Sauce-oz/dp/B002TRBNOO

And while it slaps in you in the tongue a bit on its own, it seems to cook up nicely.

It is also certainly possible we just have different palates. :) It happens. :D

Anonymous said...

That's the exact same Golden Mountain sauce I got from ImportFood.com. I will probably get a different fish sauce to try, and may mess around with different pad kee mao recipes to see if one of them works better for us.

Anonymous said...

I haven't made this yet. Just searching for recipes and yours looks great! I did read this tip on making the noodles somewhere else... Maybe they wont stick together this way?
Soak the dried rice noodles in cool or lukewarm tap water for 40 minutes to one hour or until the noodles are limp but still firm to touch.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the tip; I'm sure some folks will benefit from it. I have not made this with noodles in as long as I can remember. For over 2 years now, I have only made this with rice and really, I converted it into a stir fry, which can be found here: http://aloshaskitchen.blogspot.com/2012/10/spicy-thai-stir-fry.html.

Cheers!

Arianne said...

We made this last night and it was delicious except...it was WAAAAAY too salty. I.e. we couldn't finish it because it was WAAAY too salty. Is there anything that can be done about that? We didn't add any salt...just the sauces...

Melissa said...

Hi Arianne. Thanks for trying the recipe and for commenting. As for saltiness, It can only come from the fish sauce, Golden Mountain seasoning and black soy sauce, so I say either use less of those (maybe three tablespoons each of fish/gm and two tablespoons black soy sauce), which might mess with the texture if you're making this with noodles OR try different brands of the sauces you are using to see if some are less salty.

I have another Anonymous comment just above yours that indicates they found it too salty as well. ON the other hand, many folks have tried this and loved it. I can only chalk it up to varied tastes. My husband and I like things slightly saltier, though not overwhelming, so really, it is simply a case of differing sensitivities among people who have made this. Can't win 'em all! :) I hope you will try other Thai dishes of mine on the site and find them more to your liking.

Denise Kazen said...

OMG! Ridiculously amazing is all I can say! I don't salt ANYTHING and can't stand salty things but I found this perfect...correction, the family found this PERFECT! We don't get to go for Thai food too often just because it's expensive, but this recipe was worth the long trip to the store to get the correct ingredients! I omitted the bell peppers since we don't eat them and I don't recall them at the restaurant but everything else was verbatim! Pad Kee Mao is usually husband and older daughter's favorite (I'm about to make Pad see ew for me and youngest) however, I have to say I can't stop nibbling on this! Thank you so much for posting. I can't wait to try one of your other recipes. I wish you had a pad see ew. I hope the other person's recipe is even 1/2 as good!

Melissa said...

Denise, it's comments like this that make me still so happy I leave my food blog up and running publicly. I am thrilled that you and your family loved this dish! I do hope you'll try my Thai red curry and my stir fry dish as well.

Re. pad see ew: I did three attempts a couple of years ago but haven't returned to it. Each attempt was very good but not perfect/repeatable enough for me to post. You know what recipe you should use though? My friend Jen Yu's. She's amazing (though she also got it from a mutual blogger friend):

http://userealbutter.com/2010/07/06/pad-see-ew-thai-noodles-recipe/

Thanks again. Made my day!

Anne Babcock said...

My friend made this for my boyfriend and I last night. We loved it so much he requested I make it today. I think I just found a go-to blog for awesome recipes.
Thanks!!

Melissa said...

So happy to hear it Anne! Thanks for letting me know. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,

I've been searching for the right recipe to replicate my favorite thai dish ever (pad kee mao). Yours was amazing! I am fortunate to live in an area of NYC that has many different ethnic groceries, and thought I might pass along what the lady at the thai grocery store told me: Golden Mountain is for Pad See Ewe, normally we only use fish sauce for Pad Kee Mao. Tamarind extract is the important sauce base for Pad Kee Mao. So I tried it with tamarind instead of Golden Mountain and it came out really authentic! Also my local restaurant uses a couple plum tomatoes, which really marries well with the rest of the dish. Finally, she said Sweet Soy Sauce is also necessary for Pad See Ewe, so in case you do want to revisit it at some point, I hope you try it that way!

Melissa said...

Thank you for letting me know you tried and liked it, Anonymous, and for your suggestions. I really appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

I have been searching for too long for a recipe for Kee Mao Gai and only just NOW learned to search for Pad Kee Mao! I inquired at one of our local Thai restaurants about a recipe for this dish and they directed me to your site! Upon further research, with the right recipe name, I found a plethora of recipes and not ONE has the same liquid ingredients,much less quantities. I made this last night and both my hubby and I were impressed with the depth of flavor but found it waaaaay too salty...I'm not sure what contributed to it. I also do not have access to fresh rice noodles so I used the wide flat dry version, pre-cooked them and they curled up into cylinders - any idea why? I've seen multiple iterations on how to cook rice noodles as well...Unlike one of the other posters, I didn't weigh the cooked noodles. thoughts on the saltiness or suggestions on the noodles! Need to play around with the liquids to get it right for us! Thanks!!!!

Melissa said...

Hi Anon! Unfortunately, I can't offer much help on the noodles. I have not made the noodle version of this in years, since my husband is not a fan of the wide pad kee mao style ones, and I turned this into a stir fry instead:

http://aloshaskitchen.blogspot.com/2012/10/spicy-thai-stir-fry.html

As for the saltiness (and a few others have complained of the same issue so it isn't just you guys!), I'd say it's a personal preference. The fact of it is the combination of fish sauce, black soy sauce and Golden Mountain seasoning is going to be fairly salty, so the only thing I can suggest is cutting each of those elements in half - if you need more moisture for the noodles, maybe add a few tablespoons of water? I am not sure how else you could dilute the saltiness, but we and many others who have made it like the level as it is. Again, you are not the only one who hasn't, so I think it is a matter of personal preference.

Sorry to not be of much help, but I do appreciate you making the recipe and also appreciate the feedback!