Whip up this popular Thai street food dish

You may not be able to travel to Bangkok to dig into the Thai capital’s famous street food, but you can whip up the popular fried noodle dish of Pad Kee Mao (Drunkard’s Noodle) at home.

There are several theories about the dish’s origins. A popular version circulating online – and my personal favourite – is that a drunkard, famished after a session of boozing , made the dish from the ingredients he found in his fridge.

Among the variations of Pad Kee Mao, the original one appears to be that of stir-fried meat without noodles. Another variation sold by street vendors, Mama Pad Kee Mao, features instant noodles.

The unique ingredient in this dish is green peppercorns – unripe black peppercorns and sold in spikes.

I also use 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). They are usually available at the Thai supermarket at Golden Mile Complex.

But you can also improvise with ingredients you have in your kitchen. For vegetables, cabbage and cai xin are perfectly legitimate options.

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

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3 garlic cloves

4 chilli padi

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


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 wearing gloves while doing so).

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

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

4. In a 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 20 seconds.

6. Add the baby corn and fry for 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.

Serves three to four

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