Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Trying to get wasted on drunken noodles ...

Pad Kee Mao.

Three magic words that can make me skip around in circles. Easily my favourite Thai food, I'm pretty much the informal PKM taster of the city. In fact, there are so many joints that dish up a killer PKM that I've hardly felt the need for attempting a recreation at home.

Until today. We had this hankering for chef-fin' it out. We wanted to be the masters of our own Pad Kee Mao destiny. For some reason, hitting Typhoon or Thin Pan just did not seem enough. So, we embarked on this PKM journey. It was our first time working with those crazy wide rice noodles. When we first saw this dense package in the refrigerated section of Uwajimaya, we weren't quite sure if that was what we wanted - where were the ribbons or pieces of noodles? This just looked like a giant brick! Well, guess we'd have to figure it out. We loaded up on thai basil, a slew of vegetables and sauces and got to work! :)

The insanely delicious drunken noodles is a multi-step dish - with a fascinating assortment of sauces and spice - tamari, soy sauce, oyster sauce, white soy sauce (or fish sauce), red chillies, thai bird chillies, the list goes on!

So, we have to talk about our pitfalls upfront here. For some bizarre reason, we decided to try some additional seasoning here and went for a spoon of chili bean paste. *bad* idea. Don't even try it. I mean, this might work well with other szechuan dishes, but it is not a thai flavour by any means. And the bean bits add a weird flavour to drunken noodles. So, don't do it. Don't.

(Which is why I've excluded it from the recipe.)

Pad Kee Mao

Servings: 4

7-8 oz wide rice noodles (sen-yai)
1/2 cup firm tofu - cubed
3 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 small onion - sliced long
3 T white rice vinegar
3 T white soy sauce (See-yew Khaaw)
4 T palm sugar
3 T lime juice
2 T tamari
4-5 T vegetarian oyster sauce
2 T ground dried red chillies
2 green jalapenos - finely chopped
1 small thai chilli - chopped (Prik Kee Nuu Suan)
7-8 broccoli florets
7-8 cauliflower florets
2 small carrots - sliced
1 tomato - cut into eighths
1 baby bok choy - chopped
1 cup fresh thai basil leaves
2 T peanut oil
1/2 cup egg whites

Soak sen-yai noodles in water for 15 mins. Place soaking sen-yai noodles on the stove and bring to very slow boil, removing the sen-yai noodles while they are still firm (after about 10 minutes). Drain with cold water and set aside.

Spray the tofu chunks with oil spray and stick them under a broiler till browned.

Blanch the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes till al dente.

Heat the oil in a wok and saute the garlic till it starts to brown.
Throw in the onions along with the jalapenos and saute briefly.
Add the scrambled egg whites and saute a bit longer.
Now throw in the rice vinegar, dried chillies, lime juice, sugar and white soy sauce
Turn the heat to high and let the sauce thicken.
Once the sauce reduces, add the thai basil leaves along with bok choy, oyster sauce and tamari.
Saute for a couple more minutes before adding the blanched vegetables.
Add the cooked noodles and tofu and saute for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Keep tossing the ingredients to mix the sauce completely with the noodles and vegetables.

Top with the tomatoes and cilantro before serving. Maybe even garnish with sliced green onions or chopped garlic or jalapenos.


*mediocre*. Firstly, we killed the drunken high by adding that damn chili bean paste. That was a serious mistake. It'll never happen again! But the main issue here was that we're so damn stuffed from the flu that plagued us for the past week that our sense of smell is still on vacation. And that in turn is still greatly hampering our taste buds. *grr*. Even a nice dose of spicy thai chillies couldn't quite fix it! Another thing we did, as odd as it may sound - we used too many vegetables! Next time around, we're only going with broccoli and some carrots, no cauliflower - that's a bit of an overkill in our PKM.

So, we didn't end up being the Iron Chef of PKM. We barely got drunk on our noodles! But we learned our lessons. And the PKM flame burns bright now - we're itching to try it again :)


Sig said...

LOL, I have given up on mastering PKM... As long as Typhoon is in business I am not even going to attempt it anymore... :)

Anonymous said...

i've never eaten this. will order it the next time we go out to eat thai.

- bee

Dhivya said...

wow!awesome entry!love those pictures

Divya Vikram said...

I too have never had this..looks delicious

Alpa said...

Love PKM!! However, i have always found it to be pretty crappy anytime i order it. not spicy enough, too much liquid, overcooked noodles, etc. However, I have ended my search for the ultimate PKM - in a small joint in Austin, IMHO :) SOOOOO much better than pad thai, don't you think?

We Are Never Full said...

This is one of my thai faves too! I could've sworn the one time i tried to make it that it contained the sweet/dark black soy sauce? maybe i'm wrong...

i like your honesty about your recipe! there's too many bl,oggers that don't admit when a recipe should/needs to be tweaked a bit.

Maxine said...

My favorite Thai dish is pad see ew. I always consider making it at home, but I just know that the Thai place down the block will do such a better job! Plus I'm not sure where to find wide rice noodles in Chicago... guess I'll have to keep ordering in :)

dp said...

This is my husband's favorite noodle preparation. He also doesn't like it with too many veggies or meat. It's all about the noodles with him. I'm a pad Thai girl myself, but I wouldn't ever refuse a bowl of PKM!

Anyhow, try getting your hands on dark soy sauce. It has a hint of molasses or other sweetner (but it's not sweet, per se) that caramelizes when stir-fried and gives that distinct PKM flavor. There are Thai and Chinese versions, and both work well. I think I got it at Uwajimaya. Of course the Thai basil is also important.

Good luck!

Sagari said...

looks deleciouss kaykat

cakewardrobe said...

I usually have phases of favorites and I'll eat it for one/two week(s) straight. This week, coincidentally is PKM! This past Sunday, I was dining at a Thai restaurant on the Upper East side, and I asked for "really REALLY spicy." That was the spiciest ever and I'm sure it would have cleared your sinuses like wasabi does. I drank 4 tall glasses of water with it..and I could see the waitress was sympathizing for me.. Great photos and it looks really good despite you think it needs tweaking

diva@theSugarBar said...

your title totally got my attention!! anything with alcohol is always a joy. anyhow, great pics. sorry to hear that the chili paste rained down a little on your dish. can't wait to try this though because it still looks heck good. x

michelle @ TNS said...

i've never had this dish, but from the ingredient list it looks right up my alley.

i do not envy you the head congestion you are experiencing if bird chiles could not help you.

Andhra Flavors said...

Hey its looks delicious. I will try this.

Cynthia said...

Oh my gosh, this is one of the first things I order whenever I go to a Thai restaurant! I need to visit so that you and I can go PKM eating!

Roma said...

I havent had much Thai food so far but will definitely try out this one as it looks delicious!

Miri said...

Sounds like a great dish, maybe next time with some tweaks it will work out fine! I didnt know it was Thai - always though it was Chinese for some reason - thanks for the tip about the bean paste!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

YUMM! This is my favorite thai-take-out dish. I'll have to try it at home sometime.

Arundathi said...

Those photographs make me wanna run to the nearest Thai place and get some PKM!! Are these the same noodles as Kway Teow?

Nags said...

hehehe.. i love ur titles!

Tarah said...

I really want some right now... Looks so good.

Ben said...

Such great photos. Nice work! Your Kee Mow looks excellent. Our favorite is found at the Spice Market in the Four Seasons in Bangkok, though there is probably better in the city. Do you know where? Let us, at www.savourasia.com, know.