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Jun 10, 2007 02:35 PM

pad kee mao recipe?

I would like to make pad kee mao, a.k.a. drunken or drunkards' noodles, at home. My attempts have largely been failures. Although I have access to good-quality fresh rice noodles, thai chiles, and thai basil, and I get the noodle texture right, the flavoring is always off. In particular, it's usually too salty, and I'm not sure what to use to balance the saltiness.

Oddly, Thai cookbooks (like David Thompson's) and pan-Asian noodle cookbooks (Nina Symonds, etc.) never seem to have pad kee mao recipes. Pad thai and pad see u, sure, but not pad kee mao. I wonder if it's either too basic or too varied to include in cookbooks. At any rate, I'd love a recipe. Thanks.

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  1. Epicurious did a story on Sripraphrai a while ago, and included their recipe for drunken noodles:

    8 Replies
    1. re: Missyme

      Awesome link. That's a staple for me every time I go to Sri. Definitely gonna try it.

      1. re: Missyme

        What is Gold Mountain sauce? I see they call for light soy as a substitute, but just looking at the proportions makes me wonder if it would be too salty with light soy.

        1. re: david kaplan

          Golden Mountain Sauce is a brand of a type of very strong flavored soy sauce. It can't really be substituted. When I make pad kee mao I just add a few shakes, perhaps about 1-2 teaspoons. And then I also add light soy sauce or fish sauce. I would recommend a trip to the Asian market to pick up Golden Mountain sauce. You'll also need a 'dark' soy sauce, the salty version, not the sweet one.

          Do you mind telling us what recipe you've been using? It'll help loads.

          1. re: cee

            I pretty much followed the Epicurious version posted above by Missyme, substituting the light soy for Gold Mountain as suggested in the recipe. The rest I followed to the letter, including the salty dark soy. Eyeballing the recipe, no wonder it was too salty: 3/4 cups of saltiness (soy & fish sauces), and only 1 tbsp of sugar and nothing sour.

            Eager for your advice.

            1. re: david kaplan

              That Sri Praphai recipe is for a huge amount of noodles (2lbs or something). Unless you're cooking for a family, I'd stick with smaller amounts. When you cook in a pan, only cook a little at a time, perhaps a cup or two of noodles. For a portion that small, you're looking at adding soy & fish sauces in the 1-2 tablespoon range, not the 1/4 cup range.

              Thais season noodles additionally at the table. Usually noodle stalls provide vinegar (with pickled chilies inside), fish sauce, chili powder and sugar. You then personalize the dish to your taste. So, when you cook Pad Kee Mao you generally don't add the vinegar in the wok -- the person who eats it will add it to their taste. But when I cook for myself, or for people who don't know how to season themselves, I'll just season in the pan. I'm too lazy to make a nice presentation. I'll probably include the 'lazy' recipe on the website.

              I need to run to the market to buy the rice noodles & basil. I'll test my 'rough draft' recipe today and post it soon, perhaps today if it comes out well. I have a few people waiting for the recipe, but I want to test it a few times before posting it. I will let you know when I do!

              1. re: cee

                When I tried the Sripraphai recipe, I made a one-person batch, around 1/3 lb of noodles -- I wasn't going to subject anyone else to my first attempt at the dish! Adjusting other quantities accordingly, I used around 2 teaspoons each dark soy, light soy, and fish sauce, and a little bit of sugar. I'll wait to try again until I see your post. Thanks!

          2. re: david kaplan

            Golden Mountain Sauce is the same as Maggi Seasoning. To me, it tastes totally different than light soy.

            1. re: david kaplan

              Per 1 lb of fresh noodles. First, saute any onion/bell pepper in some hot peanut oil. Then add a small red chili(or chili paste- as hot as you like) and some crushed garlic(a couple of cloves).Then add a small amount of shrimp or chicken. Cook through. Add scant 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp. salt. Cook 1 min. Then add a mixture of 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, 2 tsp. soy sauce. Cook 'til boiling. Add noodles. Cook 'til absorbed. Eat. Yum!

          3. The correct basil to use is Holy Basil (bai ga-prao), not Thai basil. Most restaurants in the US substitute for Thai basil, but the flavor is really different. See if you can get your hands on Holy Basil instead. See pic.

            As for the too-salty, did you try to just use less soy/fish sauce? Are you adding sugar? Do you have a recipe which you are using which you could type in here for me to take a look at? Generally if something is too salty, there's not much you can do. You can try adding more sweet & sour but it won't totally fix it. Try adding a dash of white vinegar and some more sugar if it's already too salty. But the best advice is to use less saltiness next time.

            Also, what brand(s) of soy sauce & fish sauce are you using?

            I'm working on the recipe now to put up on my site. It should be up hopefully this week.


            2 Replies
            1. re: cee

              Holy basil is essential, and I've never seen it fresh in any market. Fortunately, it grows like a weed. Get some from a nursery and stick it in the ground or in a pot. It does tend to bolt, so watch it daily and pinch the buds off. Soon you will have more holy basil than you can handle.


              1. re: Jim Washburn

                Thai markets in California often have both Thai & Holy Basil and lots of other Thai produce. At the local Wat Thai there is a lady that sells the stuff growing in pots out of her van!

            2. David, if you are interested, there are excellent Thai cooking classes available in Oakland. I've mentioned it before, but if you search for 'Kasma' on google or on chowhound you will come up with many references. Disclosure: I have no connection with her other than taking her classes, and I'm one of quite a few of her groupies.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Louise

                Thank you. Someone else mentioned her classes. I'm on what I think is a very long waitlist.

                1. re: david kaplan

                  If you are on a waitlist, it is probably long. When you are notified for a class, reply that very nanosecond. I waited a few days one time and now I'm waitlisted and wish I could kick my own a** for knowing better.

                  The classes are really great, I have one tonight and my mouth is already watering.

                2. re: Louise

                  Since this old thread has been revived, I have taken Kasma's classes and had made pad kee mao successfully from her book "It Rains Fishes." The trick is to have ultra-fresh rice noodles and to cook them at high enough heat on the wok to get them a bit flecked with char before adding any liquid seasoning. This version is better than any I've ever tasted in a restaurant and has joined the list of dishes that I'd never order out because it's better at home and not difficult.

                  1. re: david kaplan

                    Thank you for the post. I live in northern VA and there are many Asian markets but I have not been able the correct basil yet. I have tried several recipes and just found one that was similiar to what it is suppose to taste like from one of my favorite places in Sterling VA. But, it was somewhat salty and i added some brown sugar and toned it down. I am going to look up what you provided. I have been on a Thai quest for wonderful food but keep messing up some how. I am so glad you were able to get into the class and discover your niche for good cooking.

                3. The original comment has been removed
                  1. "Real Thai" by Nancie McDermott has a recipe for Kwaytiow Paht Ki-Mao, she uses Grapao (holy) basil, but suggests if unavailable (even on the east coast most viet namese and cambodiam grocers will have grapao) thai basil or mint. No "golden sauce" in her version, just a mix of Dark Soy & Fish Sauce. Her recipes are rarely too salty for me, but occassionally I do find them a bit too sweet. Anyway, overall I find her book more comprehensive than Thompson's for basic recipes, and very true for taste/flavor.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: qianning

                      I very much like the McDermott recipe- I find it gets the slightly wok charred noodles just right with adding a little bit of sugar to the noodles when frying.

                      1. re: qianning

                        Thanks for mentioning the McDermott book, I just requested it from the library!

                        A good source for Thai Groceries in NY is Bangkok Center Grocery on Mosco.