Hed Chef

Affordable and casual cooking: Pad Kee Mao

Pad Kee Mao (Drunkard's Noodle) is a Thai-style dish of fried noodles with an assortment of ingredients such as seafood and green peppercorns.
Pad Kee Mao (Drunkard's Noodle) is a Thai-style dish of fried noodles with an assortment of ingredients such as seafood and green peppercorns.PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

SINGAPORE - Is age a factor when it comes to cooking? I like to think not. You do not need to be a master chef to cook a simple meal for yourself or for a casual get-together with family or friends.

Give your food delivery apps a break and try your hand at whipping up this popular Thai fried noodle dish of Pad Kee Mao. In Thai, Pad Kee Mao refers to Drunkard's Noodle. 

You do not have to be a cooking ace to replicate this dish. Anyone with a working stove and frying pan can cook this dish quite easily. Replicate and enjoy Bangkok street food in the comfort of your own home.

There are several theories on the origins of Pad Kee Mao. A popular version circulating online, and my personal favourite, is that a drunkard, hungry after a session of boozing, made this dish based on the ingredients he found in his fridge.

Among the variations of Pad Kee Mao, it seems the original one is stir-fried meat without noodles. Another variation sold by street vendors, Mama Pad Kee Mao, features instant noodles. 

The unique ingredient in this dish that takes it from ordinary to extraordinary is green peppercorns which are unripe black peppercorns. These fresh peppercorns, sold in spikes, are available at Thai Supermarket at Golden Mile Complex.

Spicy and aromatic, they add a distinctive flavour to the dish. They will also pique the curiosity of your followers if you intend to post pictures of your Pad Kee Mao on Instagram.

I also used Thai holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), known as kra pao in Thai, which can be substituted with the more easily available Thai basil (horapha in Thai).

That said, if you don't want to make a trip down to Golden Mile, feel free to improvise with ingredients that you have in your kitchen cupboard or fridge. For vegetables, cabbage and cai xin are perfectly legit options.

Go for what is comfortable for your pocket and convenience. After all, this is the spirit of Pad Kee Mao.

MAMA PAD KEE MAO (DRUNKARD'S NOODLES)

INGREDIENTS

3 garlic cloves
4 chilli padis
1 litre of water
3 packets of instant noodles (60g each)
3 Tbs cooking oil
1 small red onion (50g), sectioned
10g finger root (Kaempferia pandurata), thinly sliced
5 baby corn (60g), halved diagonally
60g oyster mushrooms, stems removed
1 red bell pepper (100g), thinly sliced
1 whole squid (200g), cleaned and sliced into 2cm by 5cm pieces
5 prawns (128g), shelled and deveined
60g beansprouts
50g green peppercorns
2 Tbs fish sauce
2 Tbs oyster sauce
½ tsp dark soya sauce
1 Tbs light soya sauce
60g Thai holy basil, pluck the leaves and discard the stems
1 lime, (50g), sectioned

METHOD

1. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic cloves and Thai chillies into a rough paste. (You can choose to chop the garlic and chilli together but I suggest you wear gloves).

2. Bring 1 litre of water to boil in a pot.

3. Place the instant noodles in the pot and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from water and place in a colander to drain excess water.

4. In a clean frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.

5. Add the chilli and garlic paste and fry for 20 seconds. Add the onion and fry for 20 seconds, then add the finger root and fry for another 20 seconds.

6. Add the baby corn and fry for another 20 seconds. Add the oyster mushroom and fry for 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and fry for 30 seconds.

7. Add the squid and fry for 15 seconds. Add the prawns and fry for 20 seconds.

8. Add the beansprouts and the green peppercorns, fry for 20 seconds.

9. Season with fish sauce, oyster sauce, dark soya sauce and light soya sauce.

10. Add the holy basil leaves and stir-fry for 15 seconds.

11. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Follow Hedy Khoo on Instagram @hedchefhedykhoo

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