Tuesday 19 July 2011

Pad Kee Mao (Thai Drunken Noodles)

Sadly, not from Thai La Ong
Thai for dinner is good. A Thai dinner in Newtown is better. Pad Kee Mao from Thai La Ong on King St is the best!

Pad Kee Mao apparently translates to Drunken Noodles. It's a tasty stir fry of thick rice noodles, chilli and basil. Various explanations of the name claim that it's not because the noodles are drunk, but because the chilli in the dish makes you want to drink lots of beer to put out the fire, making it a popular menu item at Thai restaurants and bars. I haven't been to Thailand so I can't vouch for this!

Efforts to recreate this dish at home have had mixed success. The Thai La Ong Pad Kee Mao has a wonderfully moreish sauce - thick, spicy and a bit sweet without being cloying like a Pad See Ew. There's definitely thick soy sauce in there, but there's something else that gives it the spiciness and a reddish colour.

I recently bought a tub of Korean gochujang (spicy fermented red pepper paste). While it's not a thai ingredient, it has a good amount of chilli heat without being overpowering, and a wonderful umami flavour, very similar to miso paste. If you haven't tried it and like cooking asian food, go and get some - it will keep for ages in the fridge, and you can experiment by adding small amounts to stir fries, soups and noodles. It's the key ingredient in Korean hotpots, bulgogi (bbq) and it's popped on top of bibimbap (rice and vegetable bowl).

This wasn't quite as good as Thai La Ong's, but the best version we've had at home yet!

Pad Kee Mao (makes 2-3 servings)

2 tbsp canola, peanut or rice bran oil
300g chicken, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced
½ capsicum, thinly sliced
As much red chilli as you can handle (either large and mild or small and fiery)
500g fresh rice noodles (the thick white ones)
2 tbsp ketjap manis (thick sweet soy sauce)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce (I use tamari)
1 tbsp gochujang paste
juice of half a lemon or lime
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or use palm sugar or light brown sugar)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 big handfuls basil leaves (preferably thai or holy basil)

Prepare all the ingredients before cooking. If the rice noodles are in sheets, slice them into thick pieces. You can rinse them in cold water if you like, but DO NOT soak them in hot water! You will end up with soggy, pasty noodles.

Mix the gochujang with water to make a sauce.

Heat a wok or frying pan to very hot. Add the oil, and when it starts to shimmer, add onion, garlic, chilli and cook for 2 minutes until the onion has softened. Be careful to avoid burning the garlic. Add the chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes until the chicken has mostly cooked. Add the carrot, zucchini and capsicum and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rice noodles and cook for 2 minutes until they have just started to soften and pick up a bit of char from the wok. Finally add the sauces, lemon juice and sugar - taste carefully - you want to get a nice balance of flavours, and you probably want to adjust the amounts to your liking. To finish, add the eggs and basil and stir through - they will cook on the way to the table. Garnish with finely shredded basil leaves.

Devour with a fork and spoon - thai people don't use chopsticks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That looks sooo yuuumm!