Drunken Udon Noodles (Thai Pad Kee Mao Udon)
Drunken Udon Noodles are quick and easy to make in 30 minutes and full of all the BEST spicy, savory and sweet flavors that you love in a classic Thai pad kee mao dish! Chicken, fragrant garlic and chilies, veggies, chewy and bouncy udon noodles and holy basil get tossed in a savory-sweet sauce in this mouthwatering weeknight meal!
Thai Drunken Udon Noodles!! My new favorite weeknight meal that has been on repeat lately!
Made with a vacuum sealed pack of shelf-stable udon noodles instead of the traditional fresh flat wide rice noodles which can sometimes be difficult to find, these Drunken Udon Noodles are quick, easy and convenient to make. However, this Thai-inspired dish boasts the same mouthwatering flavors we all know and love in a classic authentic pad kee mao dish!
We have here tender chicken pieces, plenty of garlic and chilies, veggies, peppery Thai holy basil and a savory-sweet umami packed sauce that will tantalize your taste buds!
It’s ready in just 30 minutes, super tasty and guaranteed to satisfy your cravings better than takeout can!
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and easy to make. It’s ready in 30 minutes and perfect for busy weeknights!
- Fragrant aromatics. Smashing the garlic and chilies using a mortar and pestle – just like they do at authentic Thai food restaurants and street food stalls in Thailand – releases their oils and makes them more flavorful.
- Chewy and bouncy noodles. Udon noodles have a fantastic chewy and bouncy mouthfeel. They taste delicious when paired with the spicy, sweet and salty flavors in this dish!
- Customizable protein. Chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, ground turkey or even tofu would taste great in this dish!
- Better than takeout! This dish is full of the BEST savory-sweet and spicy flavors and will hit the spot! It’s quicker to make than ordering takeout and tastes so much better.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutes
- Seasoned Chicken: I’ve used finely chopped boneless and skinless chicken breast and marinated it with ground white pepper, salt, light soy sauce and fish sauce. You can use chicken thigh fillets or ground chicken if preferred. See the ‘Variations’ section below for other protein options.
- Asian Red Shallot: Substitute with a regular shallot or red onion if unavailable.
- Prik Kee Nu Green Chilies. These are tiny, but fiery hot Thai chilies! They may be difficult to find outside of Asia so you can use any other small hot green chilies. If you’re not big on heat, leave them out or use less. Same for the fresh Thai Bird’s Eye red chilies.
- Chinese broccoli (‘gai lan’). Substitute with tenderstem broccoli or any other dark leafy Asian greens such as choy sum, bok choy, etc.
- Thai Holy Basil: Known as ‘gaprow’ and ‘kaprow’ in Thai, this herb has a peppery and anise-like flavor. It’s used in other Thai dishes like Thai holy basil chicken (pad kra pow gai), Thai basil shrimp fried rice, and spicy Thai basil chicken fried rice. Find it at your local Thai grocery store or Asian supermarket if you’re based in the U.S., UK, Europe, or other western parts of the world. In Asia, it’s usually available at the Thai stall in your local wet market. If unavailable, substitute with Thai sweet basil or regular Italian basil. Italian basil will be closer in flavor to holy basil than Thai sweet basil. However, either will taste great in this dish.
- Noodles. Udon noodles are thick wheat-based Japanese noodles. They have a bouncy and chewy texture similar to that of Chinese Shanghai noodles. I’ve actually used a vacuum sealed pack of Shanghai noodles here because they are that similar in texture and I always have them on hand. Frozen or vacuum sealed packs of either udon or Shanghai noodles are preferred over dry udon noodles for this dish. However, even though dry udon noodles do not have the same bouncy texture, they will work in a pinch. Prepare them according to package instructions before using in this recipe.
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- Light Soy Sauce: A Thai brand light soy sauce is preferred as it is less salty than Chinese and Japanese soy sauces. Substitute with any low sodium light soy sauce.
- Sweet Dark Soy Sauce: A thick and sticky Thai soy sauce that’s made with sugar. It’s more viscous than regular light soy sauce and adds sweetness and color to these Drunken Udon Noodles. Substitute with kecap manis (an Indonesian sweet dark soy sauce) if unavailable.
- Oyster Sauce: I use a Thai brand oyster sauce. It is less sweet than Chinese oyster sauce but both work well in this recipe.
- White Sugar Replacement: I used Lakanto brand’s classic monkfruit and erythritol blend, but any other sweetener of your preference, including regular granulated white sugar, can be used.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Thai Drunken Udon Noodles
- Prepare the ingredients. Roughly chop the garlic and red and green chilies. Using a mortar and pestle, pound into a coarse paste and set aside. If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, finely chop them instead. Combine the chicken with the marinade ingredients, mix together the sauce ingredients in a measuring cup or bowl and prepare the rest of the fresh ingredients.
- Cook the noodles: If using vacuum sealed packs of precooked noodles, add them to a pot of boiling water and gently shake the noodle cake using tongs until the strands separate and are tender. Prepare frozen or dried noodles according to package instructions. Drain into a colander and run cold water on top to prevent sticking.
- Stir-fry the aromatics. Heat oil in a large nonstick wok over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the shallots and smashed garlic chilies paste until fragrant.
- Cook the chicken. Add the marinated chicken and stir-fry until almost fully cooked and no longer pink.
- Add the baby corn and Chinese broccoli. Stir-fry until the Chinese broccoli has slightly softened.
- Add the noodles and sauce. Mix and toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
- Toss through the holy basil leaves until just wilted.
- Serve! Transfer to a plate and enjoy immediately while hot!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Adjust spice level to taste. Thai drunken udon noodles is a spicy stir-fried noodles dish. If you are sensitive to heat, reduce the amount of fresh red and green chilies you use or omit them completely.
- Turn on the exhaust fan or open a window. Stir-frying chilies in hot oil can release strong and pungent fumes. It doesn’t affect me anymore after years of cooking with plenty of chilies. However, if you are sensitive to spicy foods, I recommend opening a window or turning on the exhaust fan. This is especially helpful if your kitchen is not very well ventilated.
- Double the recipe. This recipe makes one generous serving or can be divided into two servings if you’re not that hungry. If you’d like to make more servings, double all the ingredient amounts.
- Use different noodles. Flat wide rice noodles, fresh or dry, can be used instead of udon or Shanghai noodles. They are typically used in the classic Thai drunken noodles (pad kee mao) dish.
- Use a different protein. If chicken is not your thing, lean ground pork, turkey, or beef will work too. Alternatively, use sliced pork fillet (tenderloin), beef fillet, shrimp or other seafood such as squid, clams, mussels, baby scallops, etc.
- Make it vegetarian/vegan. Use crispy pan-fried tofu cubes or tempeh, a vegetarian oyster sauce such as a mushroom flavored oyster sauce and replace the fish sauce with more light soy sauce.
- Make it gluten-free. Use tamari, coconut aminos or other gluten-free soy sauce instead of both soy sauces and a gluten-free certified oyster sauce. Also, use any other gluten-free noodles of choice or rice noodles.
- Make a lower calorie version. Try my Shirataki Drunken Noodles which uses shirataki (konjac) noodles to make a lower calorie version of this Thai drunken noodles stir-fry!
Some versions may include scrambled eggs or a fried egg served on top. A Thai-style fried egg (‘kai dao’) would be delicious with these drunken udon noodles.
Drunken noodles are a filling and balanced meal on its own because it’s packed with protein, veggies and satiating carbohydrates. However, feel free to serve it up with some spring rolls, Thai basil wontons, a cucumber or papaya salad or just some cucumber slices on the side. For more heat, you can serve with ‘prik nam pla’ (fish sauce with chopped chilies) to drizzle on top if desired.
Fresh flat wide rice noodles are traditionally used in Thai drunken noodles. Dry flat wide rice noodles are often substituted by home chefs but the bouncy and chewy texture of fresh flat wide rice noodles is superior.
MADE THIS RECIPE? If you make this recipe, leave a comment below and let me know how you liked it! Take a photo and tag it with @thatspicychick on Instagram and hashtag it #thatspicychick and I’ll be sure to share your masterpiece!
More Thai Noodles You’ll Love
Drunken Udon Noodles (Thai Pad Kee Mao Udon)
Chewy and bouncy udon noodles, chicken, fragrant garlic and chilies, veggies and holy basil get tossed in a savory-sweet sauce in this mouthwatering Thai Drunken Udon Noodles dish!
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 1 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stir-fry
- Cuisine: Thai
- 150 grams / 5.3 ounces Chicken Breast, boneless, skinless – finely chopped or cut into bite-sized pieces (note 1)
- ⅛ TSP ground White Pepper
- 1/16 TSP (a pinch) Fine Sea Salt, to taste
- ½ TSP Fish Sauce
- ½ TSP Light Soy Sauce (Thai brand preferred, or use low sodium soy sauce)
- 1.5 TBLS Oyster Sauce
- ½ TBSP Light Soy Sauce
- ½ TSP Sweet Dark Soy Sauce (note 2)
- ½ TSP sugar-free granulated White Sugar Replacement (or other sweetener of choice – note 3)
- 1 TBSP Water
Thai Drunken Udon Noodles:
- 15 grams / 3-4 Garlic cloves – peeled, roughly chopped
- 17 grams / 5-6 fresh Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chilies), to taste* – destemmed, roughly chopped
- 5 grams / 4-6 Thai Prik Kee Nu Green Chilies (or use any other small hot green chilies – note 4*), to taste – destemmed, roughly chopped
- 21 grams / 1 medium Asian Red Shallot – peeled, sliced
- 32 grams / 2 pieces Baby Corn – sliced in half vertically, then again horizontally
- 85 grams / 2-3 pieces Chinese Broccoli (‘gai lan’, substitute with broccolini or tenderstem broccoli) – stems peeled, sliced at an angle
- 16 grams / 1 cup Thai Holy Basil Leaves – picked off stems, washed, pat-dried (note 5)
- 200 grams / 7 ounces (1 pack) Udon Noodles (or Shanghai noodles, I used a vacuum sealed pack – note 6)
- ½ TBSP Canola Oil (or any other neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point)
- Marinate the chicken: Finely chop the chicken into small pieces (or cut into bite-sized pieces) and add to a medium bowl, followed by the ground white pepper, fine sea salt, fish sauce and light soy sauce. Mix well to combine and set aside.
- Make the sauce: Mix together the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sweet dark soy sauce and white sugar replacement in a small measuring cup (for easier pouring) or small bowl until thoroughly combined and set aside.
- Prepare the fresh ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic and red and green chilies. Using a mortar and pestle, pound into a coarse paste and set aside. (If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, finely chop the garlic and chilies instead.) Slice the shallots, baby corn, and Chinese broccoli as indicated. Pick the holy basil leaves off the stems, then wash and gently pat-dry.
For the Drunken Udon Noodles:
- Prepare the noodles: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and place the noodle cake in the pot. Use tongs to grab onto the cake and gently shake until the strands have separated and are tender – about 1-2 minutes. Drain and run cold water on top to prevent sticking and halt the cooking process. (If using frozen or dried udon noodles, cook according to package instructions.)
- Stir-fry the aromatics: Heat ½ tablespoon oil in a large nonstick wok over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add the smashed garlic chilies paste and stir-fry for another 20-30 seconds until fragrant. (Note: Turn on the exhaust fan or open a window if needed – frying spicy chilies in oil in a hot wok can release pungent fumes.)
- Cook the chicken: Add the marinated chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes, stir-frying until almost fully cooked and no longer pink.
- Add the veggies: Add the baby corn and Chinese broccoli and stir-fry for 1 minute or until the Chinese broccoli has slightly softened.
- Add the noodles and sauce: Add the cooked noodles and pour the sauce on top. Mix and toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
- Toss through basil: Toss through the holy basil leaves until just wilted – 10-15 seconds. Switch off the heat.
- To Serve: Transfer to a plate and serve immediately while hot.
- Chicken. Feel free to either finely chop the chicken or cut into bite-sized pieces. You could also use ground chicken, lean ground pork, turkey or beef instead. Alternatively, use sliced pork fillet (tenderloin) beef fillet, shrimp or other seafood such as squid, clams, mussels, baby scallops, etc.
- Sweet Dark Soy Sauce. A thick and sticky Thai soy sauce that’s made with sugar. It’s more viscous than regular light soy sauce and adds sweetness and color to these Drunken Udon Noodles. Substitute with kecap manis (an Indonesian sweet dark soy sauce) if unavailable.
- White Sugar Replacement: I used Lakanto brand’s classic monkfruit and erythritol blend but any other sweetener of your preference, including regular granulated white sugar, can be used.
- Prik Kee Nu Green Chilies. These tiny Thai chilies are fiery hot and can be found in Thai grocery stores and in some Asian supermarkets. Feel free to leave them out as they might be difficult to find outside of Asia. Adjust the quantity of both red and green chilies according to your heat level preference. Leave them out completely if you are sensitive to heat.
- Thai Holy Basil Leaves. Known as ‘gaprow’ and ‘kaprow’ in Thai, this herb has a peppery and anise-like flavor. Find it at your local Thai grocery store or Asian supermarket if you’re based in the U.S or other Western countries/cities. In Asia, it’s usually available at the Thai stall in your local wet market. If unavailable, substitute with Thai sweet basil or regular Italian basil. Italian basil will be closer in flavor to holy basil than Thai sweet basil. However, either will taste great in this dish.
- Udon Noodles. These are thick wheat-based Japanese noodles. They have a bouncy and chewy texture similar to that of Chinese Shanghai noodles. I’ve used a vacuum sealed pack of Shanghai noodles here. Frozen or vacuum sealed packs of either udon or Shanghai noodles are preferred over dry udon noodles. Dry udon noodles do not have the same bouncy texture, but can definitely be used in a pinch. Prepare them according to package instructions before using in this recipe.
- Leftovers and storing. Store any leftovers in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway in between, until hot throughout.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 618
- Sugar: 4.1g
- Sodium: 4375.1mg
- Fat: 11.9g
- Saturated Fat: 1.4g
- Unsaturated Fat: 10.5g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 82.7g
- Fiber: 7.8g
- Protein: 47.3g
- Cholesterol: 109.5mg
Keywords: drunken udon noodles, udon drunken noodles, thai udon noodles
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