I recently started a “stunt” on my blog where I am going to uncover the hottest dish on each international cuisine restaurant that I visit in Philadelphia. Through the lens of that one dish, I will attempt to learn about that particular cuisine.
Thai is one of my favorite international cuisines and my learning and immersion into “hotness” started with me ordering one of the spiciest dishes on the menu – Drunken Noodles – at a Thai restaurant.
Wide rice noodles with tofu or chicken, stir fried with fresh garlic, chili, basil leaves, vegetables, bell peppers, onions and sauce. Eating this dish is like a symphony of the senses – the heady tastes, great smell of the spices and the basil all make for a great experience. So, I thought – why not try and learn to cook it too?
Drunken Noodles is known as Pad Kee Mao in Thai. Pad means to stir fry something while Kee Mao means to be drunk. And as rumor has it, the dish is supposed to be a good cure for a hangover given its hotness quotient – hence its colorful name. I also read that the name is derived from the fact that the noodles are “drunk” with the heady mix of the spices and the sauces and hence the name.
I learned a lot while cooking this dish – I now understand why they keep saying that Thai cooking is a delicate balancing of the ingredients and tastes – hot, sour, salty. And the dish turned out to be very good!
Not to mention that on the spiciness quotient, this one was way up there. Spicy, hot but at the same time not overwhelmingly so – you could still make out the other flavors that were inherent in this dish.
- 2 tablespoons oil (I prefer olive)
- 1 1/4 cup wide rice noodles:
- 1/2 cup cut onions
- 1/2 cup chicken cut into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons Thai chilies – cut or smashed
- ½ cup holy basil
- 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- 5 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon vinegar
- Prepare the ingredients and set aside – crush the garlic, cut the peppers and onions into long strips, chop the chili into strips or rings, pick the leaves & flowers of the basil.
- Separate the noodles and immerse in boiling water for about 8 minutes
- Add the oil to a pan, and heat on high until the oil is hot. Then add the garlic, chilies. Stir often.
- When the garlic turns light brown, add the peppers and onions. Keep stirring and cook for about 2 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water.
- Add the chicken, stir and cook until chicken turns golden.
- Add the noodles. After frying for a minute or two, add the soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce. Stir well to mix.
- Add the basil & vinegar. Stir to mix until the basil feels wilted.
Recipe Adapted from: