When you emerge shit-faced from a bar and find yourself at Sukhumvit Soi 38 at 2am, you order a pad kee mao. The name pad kee mao literally means “fried shit drunk”, but to be polite, it is generally translated as “drunken noodles”. At street stands, pad kee mao is traditionally made with slices of meat, wide rice noodles, and massive amounts of chilli, so it can shock you out of your drunken stupor. Thanks to Western partygoers, pad kee mao with spaghetti has also become quite popular.
A nice pad kee mao should be colourful and fun so you can feel happy while your mouth burns. I replace the usual baby corn with yellow bell pepper, and use seitan, tofu and/or straw mushrooms to replace the meat.
- If you are using tofu or seitan, cut them into small blocks of pieces. Cook and brown them in a non-stick pan on medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil. Set aside for later.
- Cut the yellow bell pepper into long slices. Halve the straw mushrooms (if using). Cut the green leafy vegetables into index finger lengths, I like to separate the stems and the leafy bits. Chop the garlic and chilli. Take the basil off the stem.
- Boil a pot of salted water for your pasta or rice noodle and cook to al dente as per packet instructions. Drain, rinse in cool water, and you can also drizzle with oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Throw the garlic and chilli into the oil and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the yellow pepper, mushroom and vegetable stems and stir for another minute or so. Add the vegetables leaves, return the tofu / seitan into the pan and toss to mix well.
- Move everything to the edges of the pan and add the noodles. Over the noodles, you add 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of voyster sauce and ½ tbsp of sugar. Mix the seasoning into the noodles before tossing everything together. Don't mess around here because the stove is hot! Everything is cooked already and you just want to incorporate the flavours together. Especially if you are using rice noodles as they can get mushy if overcooked. Taste and add more seasoning to taste.
- Throw the basil in and mix quickly into noodles, turning off the flame after 5 seconds. Continue mixing until the basil has softened. Garnish with more basil and eat it!
If you like your noodles to look more brown, you can add ½ tbsp of dark soy sauce.