Vegan Drunken Noodles
Thai drunken noodles is one of my favorite take-out meals. The different flavors meld together so beautifully, and the dish usually doesn’t feel quite as heavy as bloat-inducing pad Thai. I didn’t have high expectations when attempting to make drunken noodles at home (it’s just never the same, is it?), but I ended up pleasantly surprised. The results were—dare I say it—better than take-out!
There’s no hard-and-fast rule to making drunken noodles (also called pad kee mao), but generally you’ll use broad rice noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, Thai basil and Thai chiles. To keep the dish vegetarian (it’s actually vegan), I replaced the fish sauce/oyster sauce with vegetarian stir fry sauce.
Definitely make the effort to seek out the Thai basil (look for it at your local ethnic grocery store), as it’s a bit spicier and more bitter than Italian basil and is a key component of the dish. Otherwise, use whatever veggies you prefer! The noodles will soak up the flavor of the sauce (but don’t drown it in sauce) and will help bring all the tasty veggies together.
3 T. vegetarian stir fry sauce
1 1/2 T. light soy sauce
1 T. dark soy sauce
2 t. agave
1 T. water
1 T. sweet chili sauce
2 t. garlic chili sauce
1 package wide rice noodles (you’ll have more noodles than you’ll need)
Shiitake mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
Brown shimeji mushrooms (cut off the base of the cluster and use your hands to separate the stems)
Broccoli, chopped into florets
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
3-4 Thai chilies, diced
1 in. of fresh ginger, peeled & minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Green onions, chopped
2 t. sesame oil
*This is a very loose recipe. Add as much or as little of any ingredient as you’d like. The steps are laid out as if you’re making a single-serving portion (my husband and I cooked our food in separate skillets because he was adding meat to his).
1) Prepare the noodles according to package directions and set aside.
2) Add the stir fry sauce, both soy sauces, agave, water, sweet chili sauce and garlic chili sauce to a bowl. Whisk well to combine. Note that this is enough sauce for two portions of noodles, so make more or less as needed.
3) Prepare all your veggies and have them ready to go once you start making the noodles.
4) Add the sesame oil to a cast iron skillet or large wok and turn the heat to high. You want the skillet to be screaming hot!
5) Once the skillet is as hot as it can possibly get, add a handful of yellow onions and a pinch of garlic and ginger. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions start to brown.
6) Add a handful of mushrooms and broccoli and continue to stir frequently. After three or four minutes, add some red bell peppers and a pinch of diced Thai chiles. If the mixture starts to burn at any point, add a teaspoon or so of water.
7) Once the veggies are nearly done cooking, add a handful of noodles and stir in half the sauce. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently, until the noodles have visibly absorbed the sauce. Finish by stirring in some Thai basil leaves and green onions. Serve immediately.