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Vegan Thai Drunken Noodles Bowl – Pad Kee Mao

Vegan Drunken Noodles is the literal translation of the Thai name for this noodle dish called Pad Kee Mao.  I was fascinated by the name and decided to scope out what the history is of the name.   Wickipedia says, “the meal is often consumed after a night of drinking, prepared from assorted leftovers commonly on hand and staple ingredients.”  Upon furthur investigation I found.

  1. Its a cure for a hangover. 
  2. Rice Wine was added to the original Thai dish by the Chinese. 
  3. It was suggested by an inebriated inventor that the dish was the product of a drunken culinary creation.
  4. It’s best served with a cold beer. 

Whatever the real history is. This dish is delicious with or without an ice-cold beer. 

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Neuroscience Food Fun Fact:  

I love Neuroscience and am fascinated by the neuroscience of our connection with and relationship to what we love to eat and why some of us love certain food and others can’t stand the same food.  For example, why do some people love hot and spicy foods and others don’t want it anywhere near their tastebuds?

The answer is in neuroscience and not genetics, as many people might believe.  Sorry, but we don’t have a spice-loving gene.  The love of spicy food is learned by repeatedly exposing our mouths to hot pepper (capsaicin), the chemical responsible for chili pepper burn. 

Eating chili peppers lights up neuro-receptors in your mouth that tells your brain your mouth is on fire (literally). This initiates a stress response which sends another set of neuro signals to your body to produce endorphins.  Endorphines are natural painkillers and also mood lifters.   So it’s the punch of the pain, followed by the rush of the endorphins, that teaches spicy food lovers to associate hot foods with feel-good feelings.  Pass the chili peppers and the feel-good feelings please. 

Ingredients for Drunken Noodles

Rice Noodles – Oh my, I was surprised the other day when I walked into a large international market and discovered that a whole aisle was dedicated to rice noodles.  Who knew that many varieties existed?  For this dish, I chose Thai wide flat rice noodles. 

Marinade for the Tofu:

Tofu – Make sure the tofu is Extra firm Tofu.

Soy Sauce – use a dark soy sauce if you can find it.  It gives the tofu a nice golden brown color. 

Green Dragon Sauce – This is a Trader Joe’s brand I love using in spicy dishes.  If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, you can use Siracha Sauce.  

Lime – Zest the skin and then squeeze out the juice.  Use them both in the marinade. 

Drunken Noodle Sauce:  

Sesame oil – I use refined sesame oil.  Refined sesame oil is more purified, giving it a higher smoke point, making it better for stir-frying. 

Soy Sauce – Use dark to give the noodles a golden color. 

Vegetable Broth – use either broth or stock

Maple Syrup – the sweet helps balance the spicy. 

Green Dragon or Siracha sauce

Umami Powder – dried powdered shitake mushroom give the noodles a rich meaty flavor. 

Chili Paste with garlic – This is very hot, so use sparingly or skip it if you like your noodles milder. 

Stir Fry

Sesame Oil – use refined

Onion – Small yellow onion.

Garlic – medium cloves 

Thai Basil – Thai Basil has an Aniseed flavor; however, Italian basil is also delicious if you can’t find Thai basil.

 

Vegan Drunkin Noodles Bowl.

Make the Stir Fry Sauce

  • In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce. Rice vinegar, vegetable broth, soy sauce, maple syrup, Green Dragon Sauce, and Umami powder.

Bake the Marinated Tofu.

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. (204°C)
  • Drain the sauce off of the Tofu and pat the Tofu dry with a paper towel. The dryer the Tofu is, the crispier the outside will get when you bake it.
  • Coat the Tofu with cornstarch by tossing in a bowl of cornstarch or shaking it in a bag with cornstarch.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick coating.

Make the Drunken Noodles

  • When the Tofu has about 10 minutes left to bake. Stir Fry the Drunken Noodles.
  • Once you start cooking, the dish doesn’t take long.
  • Slice the onion into thin slices and dice the garlic.
  • Drain the noodles.
  • Heat the wok or large cast iron skillet.
  • Once the wok is hot, add the sesame oil, garlic, and onion.
  • Cook until garlic is fragrant and onions are translucent. About 1 minute,
  • Add the Stir Fry Sauce and the Noodles. Stir Fry until the Noodles are soft.
  • Add the marinade from the Tofu if you like your drunken noodles extra spicy and saucy.
  • Add the basil and stir until wilted.
Serve:  Put the drunken noodles in a bowl and top with half of the crispy spicy Tofu.  Serve with a wedge of lime and garnish with some chopped cilantro. 
I don’t drink beer. However, Farmer Fred will attest this dish is better with an ice-cold beer. (and, of course, chicken instead of Tofu.)
 
Notes:  This recipe is spicy so decrease the Green Dragon Sauce by half if you prefer a less spicy dish.  Also, If your noodles lack sauce, double the soy sauce and add extra vegetable broth until they have the desired sauciness. 
 
Do you Love Bowls?  I love bowls because they make a quick, easy, and comforting meal.  For some more delicious bowl recipes try my Grilling Cheese, Vegetable, and Couscous Bowl, or my Chicken Pasta Bowl with Asparagus and Sugar Pod Peas. 

Pop on over to my social media sites, where you’ll find exclusive Doctor Jo’s pictures of what’s new in my gardens. Also, what new recipes I’m creating in my kitchen. I love your comments. After the recipe, the comment section is at the end of the blog. So let me know what you think in the Leave a Reply section at the end of this blog. Please leave your first name at the end of your comment, and I will reply by name. 

Vegan Drunken Noodles Bowl

Vegan Drunken Noodles take a popular Thai dish Pad Kee Mao and turn it Vegan. Spicy Crispy Tofu sits atop a bowl of spicy rice noodles with vegetables. Delicious with an ice-cold beer.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
marinate the tofu overnight 12 hours: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 20 minutes
Course: lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Thai, Vegan
Keyword: Drunken Noodles, easy, easy main course, healthy, spicy, vegan
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 655kcal

Equipment

  • Wok or Large Cast Iron Skillet
  • This page contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click a link, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you
  • To quickly convert this recipe to metric units click the blue metric button between the ingredients and instructions portion of the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 7 oz Flat wide Rice Noodles

Marinade

  • 8 oz Tofu cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Green Dragon or Siracha Hot Sauce
  • 1 lime Zest
  • 1 lime juice about 2 Tbsp.

Stir Fry

  • 2 tbsp refined sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 tsp Thai red chili with garlic paste. If you don't like it so spicy, use less. If you can't find the paste use 2 red Thai chilis deseeded and finely diced.
  • 1 small yellow union cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup Fresh Thai or regular Basil
  • Lime wedges and cilantro for garnish.

Sauce for Stir Fry

  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Green Dragon or Siracha Sauce use less if you don't like it so spicy.
  • 1 tbsp Umami powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground chili paste with garlic

Instructions

Marinate the Tofu

  • Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and put them in a bowl.
  • Add the soy sauce, Green Dragon sauce, lime zest and lime juice.
  • Stir to coat the tofu, cover, and let marinade overnight.

Soak the Noodles

  • Soak the rice noodles overnight in a large bowl or pan of cold water.

Make the Stir Fry Sauce

  • In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce. Rice vinegar, vegetable broth, soy sauce, maple syrup, Green Dragon Sauce, and Umami powder.

Bake the Marinated Tofu.

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. (204°C)
  • Drain the sauce off of the tofu and Pat the Tofu dry with a paper towel. The dryer the tofu is, the crispier the outside will get when you bake it.
  • Coat the tofu with cornstarch by tossing in a bowl of cornstarch or shaking it in a bag with cornstarch.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes on a baking sheet that is sprayed with nonstick coating.

Make the Drunken Noodles

  • When the tofu has about 10 minutes left to bake. Stir Fry the Drunken Noodles.
  • Once you start cooking the dish doesn't take long.
  • Slice the onion into thin slices and dice the garlic.
  • Drain the noodles.
  • Heat the wok or large cast iron skillet.
  • Once the wok is hot add the sesame oil, garlic, and onion.
  • Cook until garlic is fragrant and onions are translucent. About 1 minute,
  • Add the Stir Fry Sauce and the Noodles. Stir Fry until the Noodles are soft.
  • Add the marinade from the tofu if you like your drunken noodles extra spicy and saucy.
  • Add the basil and stir until wilted.
  • Serve: Put the drunken noodles in a bowl. Top with the crispy spicy Tofu and serve with a garnish of Cilantro and a wedge of Lime.

Video

Notes

Drunken Noodles are meant to be spicy.  However, if you don't or can't do spicy, skip the Green Dragon Sauce in the  Marinade and Stir Fry.  Substitute vegetable broth for the Green Dragon Sauce to give you enough liquid in the marinade and stir fry sauce.  

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 655kcal | Carbohydrates: 106g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 3002mg | Potassium: 420mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 3mg
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