Drunken Noodles, A  Pad Kee Mow Recipe and Crash Course

Drunken Noodles, A Pad Kee Mow Recipe and Crash Course

Courageous Kitchen’s special of the month is pad kee mow drunken noodles! This is a personal favorite of our team and popular with many of our guests. Today we take a deep dive into many of the questions you ask about this dish, providing you with our tried and true recipe below!

If you find any of this information helpful and tasty, please consider making a donation to help us feed and educate more marginalized youth in Bangkok

Why do they call them drunken noodles?

Pad kee mow noodles are the quintessential Thai hangover food. The words ‘kee mow’ are a reference to someone who is regularly drunk. This dish is literally, a drunk’s stir fry, and if you’d ever had the full face numbing heat of the Thai version, you know exactly why.

You only need to decide if the drunkenness the dish’s name refers to is because of it’s hangover killing properties, or the magical stir fry sauce that coats and colors the noodles and meat so well. 

What’s the difference between pad kee mow and pad see ew?

While they are cooked similarly, the main difference between these two dishes is the spiciness from the added herbal ingredients. You can find our pad see ew recipe included in our Courageous Recipe Magazine.

In fact, the two dishes are so similar, that we refer to them as brother or sister dishes. Many of their commonalities are likely because both share Chinese origins, developed in woks of Chinese migrants to Thailand. Compared to the milder see ew, the version of kee mow that Thais know and love was born in a Chinese wok, but has all the fiery heat required to make the dish distinctly Thai.

In western Thai restaurants these dishes are adapted for local tastes and may be sweeter, and less spicy than what you find in Thailand. So when guests in our Bangkok cooking class request pad see ew, but mention loving spicy food— we usually try to catch it in time to upgrade their order to pad kee mow. We love teaching people to make an authentic version, because it seems to take guest’s existing romance with the dish to a whole new level. 

While the same stir fry sauce can be used for both dishes, pad see ew‘s signature egg is swapped out and the chinese kale (aka gai lan, a sturdier and less leafy bok choy) is down played. Instead, you find yourself in a love hate relationship with the intensity of young peppercorn, kaffir lime leaves, and the little known ‘krachai‘ root (aka fingerroot, more on this below). Those ingredients are enough to numb your face, while the chili included in the recipe serves to burn down the rest of the house. Contrarily, no fresh chili is usually included in pad see ew.

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I tried making this and ordering it in restaurants, why isn’t it nearly as good as the version I’ve enjoyed in Bangkok?

First off, it’s tough to compete with the aunties and uncles slinging this dish in the streets of Bangkok. While you can grab a plate out of any made to order stall, the best shops making it are the ones who specialize in only a few dishes. Secondly, the mix of somewhat obscure ingredients can make this dish difficult to replicate abroad. Finally, there are a few small details about the dish vendors here you may have overlooked including:

  • The use of freshly made sen yai or wide rice noodles
  • Marinating the meats overnight
  • MSG
  • Flash frying the noodles over high pressure gas burners or charcoal for a smoky flavor

While we hope the recipe below can help cure your craving, we should all just admit that short of importing a Thai chef and a fireman, there will always be someway to improve the homemade version of pad kee mow.

What is the gnarly brown root used in authentic pad kee mow recipes? Can I use ginger as a substitute?

Foodies more familiar with Thai food, won’t be surprised that the use of a strange looking and little-known root is crucial. The krachai root, was previously known as Chinese ginger, but today is better known by English speakers as fingerroot. 

The skinny finger-like structure of the root from which the name originates, can make it difficult to peel. This is why we’re always impressed to see the love for this dish on display in the form of pre-made kee mow kits in our local market. This special little package significantly reduces your prep time, and while you can’t find it in the west, in Thailand’s markets the kit usually sells for less than a dollar.

Do I have to add sweet basil to the dish?

We strongly recommend you adding a Thai sweet basil (called horapa in Thai) if you can find it. We are encouraged to see more varieties of basil available in the US each year as demand grows. Unlike the more peppery Thai holy basil, this basil is fragrant, gently countering the intensity of the other ingredients. In Thailand many of your favorite curries are similarly complimented with a healthy handful of these delicious leaves.

Pad Kee Mow Ingredients

Portion: 3-4 people

  • 600g Fresh or Pre-Soaked Rice Noodles 
  • 150g of Chicken
  • 4-5 Chopped Chinese Kale Leaves
  • 2-3 Fresh Peppercorn Stems
  • 40g Fingerroot
  • 1 Large and Mild Red Chili (Serrano or similar)
  • 50g or 1 Handful of Thai Sweet Basil
  • 2 Sliced Jinda Chilies (Thai bird’s eye chilies can substitute)

Pad Kee Mow Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tsp of Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp of Fish Sauce
  • 3 tbsp of Oyster Sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp of Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Palm Sugar

Pad Kee Mow Instructions

  1. Drizzle dark soy sauce on your noodles and mix evenly.
  2. Blanch kale and rest aside. 
  3. Mix stir fry seasoning in a small bowl, mince your garlic, and rest both near your stir fry station.
  4. On medium heat add your cooking oil, and when it’s hot, follow it with your garlic. 
  5. Add chicken to the wok and stir until cooked.
  6. Add kale, dark soy sauce coated noodles, and stir vigorously to prevent noodles from clumping.
  7. Add your fresh peppercorn, fingerroot, and chili.  
  8. To finish add your Thai sweet basil just before removing from heat. 
  9. Plate your noodles and garnish with a few large slices of chili, fresh sweet basil on top, and a lime for your guests to squeeze nearby.

Happy Cooking and if you enjoyed this recipe, make a donation to help us create our own cook book in 2019!

Sponsor Lessons for Courageous Kitchen Students!

Each week Courageous Kitchen provides fun, education instruction to at risk students. This instruction includes English language learning, cooking classes, and special outings. You can donate any amount, but if you’re unsure here are some suggestions: $1 = sponsor one plate $30 = sponsor a meal for an entire class $100 = sponsor a full day of instruction $400+ = sponsor a month or more of Courageous learning Each gift given on the form below will help us reach our goal to fund classes for an entire year!
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How to Make Tom Yum Soup with Chicken (Video)

How to Make Tom Yum Soup with Chicken (Video)

Today we’d like to share a simple and delicious recipe with all of our supporters. If you watch the video below you catch our students making a big pot of the spicy, satisfying tom yum soup with chicken. Then continue to read below for all the details on how to make this recipe at home. We’ve even included a few frequently asked questions at the bottom, to be sure you’re confident when cooking this homestyle soup for your friends and family.

Remember you can donate to support our efforts to educate and train more at risk youth.

Tom Yum Recipe Video:

Chicken Tom Yum Recipe (Tom Yum Gai)

This recipe serves 1-2 people, but if you have all your aromatics on hand, it’s easy to make a much larger pot like the one seen in recipe video above. Preparation time is typically 15-20 minutes, while your cooking time can be as quick as 10 minutes.

Primary Aromatics:
3-4 Kaffir Lime Leaves
5-6 Galangal Large Slices
1 Lemongrass Stalk

2-3 Tbsp of fish sauce
Juice from 1 lime
2-3 Tsp of palm sugar
1-2 Tbsp of Thai chili jam

Other Ingredients:
500ml of Water
4-6 Oyster Mushrooms
2-3 Bird’s eye chili
1/2 Beef tomato quartered
1/4 of a roughly chopped white onion
100g of sliced chicken breast
5-6 Cilantro leaves for garnish

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1. Prepare your aromatics. Smack your kaffir lime and tear it, being carful not to remove the leaves from the stem. Pound your lemongrass stalk and tie it in a knot. Cut your galangal root into large slices. For the best final result you want to keep these aromatics large and easily visible (avoid chopping small), because although they are used for their aroma and flavor, they are not typically consumed with the rest of the soup.

2. Roughly chop 2-3 chilies for an average level of spicy. You can chop the chili more finely or add more if you prefer your soup extra spicy.

3. Cut your lime in sections by moving your knife around the core. This will help you remove the seeds more easily. You can also tilt your knife down into a bowl and use the blunt side of your knife for squeezing the lime without making it too messy.

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Cooking Instructions:

1. Bring your water to a boil in small pot and immediately add your aromatics. Cook a few minutes until fragrant.
2. Add your chicken breast and after it cooks, your onion, tomato, chili, and mushrooms.
3. Let the soup lightly boil uncovered as the vegetables soften, while adding your fish sauce, chili jam, and palm sugar.
4. Taste your soup for saltiness and sweetness.
5. If you are satisfied, remove from heat and add lime juice (remember adding lime too soon can cause the juice to become bitter).
6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves.
7. Remember you can remove the hard to eat aromatics (galangal slices, lemongrass, and kaffir leaves) before serving or remind guests not to eat them.

Frequently Asked Tom Yum Recipe Questions:

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1. Why don’t you add coconut milk to your tom yum soup?

CK: Tom yum has a sibling soup called ‘tom kha’ which is made with coconut milk. The creamy coconut milk is a good match for the spice and a better menu option for people sensitive to the heat from Thai chilies. The confusion comes because some restaurants do a version of tom yum called ‘nam khon’ where they top the soup of with evaporated milk. This is especially common in Bangkok and at wester restaurants abroad. The milk adds a creaminess to the soup without changing the flavor like the coconut milk can, however, many people mistake this for coconut milk.

2. Can I use other mushrooms or forego the chicken altogether?

CK: If you would prefer to make a vegetarian version of this dish you can! The meaty, buttery mushrooms work best. For example, we often mix oyster mushroom with straw, shimeji, and even the small stringy enoki mushrooms. In general most mushrooms will work, however, you may want to limit your portion if you’re using really bulky mushrooms, such as portobello. To completely make this recipe vegetarian you should substitute white salt for fish sauce, and buy or make a vegetarian chili jam.

3. What is the Thai chili jam (nam prik pow) used in the recipe?

CK: An essential ingredient in tom yum, Thai chili jam is not an ingredient many people are familiar with using. The jam is typically made by reducing dried chili with fish sauce, palm sugar, and shallots. A litany of other ingredients are added in homemade recipes and they tend to be more intensely spicy, and less sweet than the ones commonly sold in Asian supermarkets. We often make our own veg and vegan versions for our cooking class guests with special dietary needs.

Pineapple Curry Recipe from our Bangkok Cooking Class

Pineapple Curry Recipe from our Bangkok Cooking Class

We love the people we get to meet in our Bangkok cooking classes. We limit the class size to less than 6, so over a few hours the personalities of all of our visitors start to come out, as do ours. While we welcome many newcomers to Thailand, we also occasionally have guests who are returning visitors, or looking for a cooking class in Bangkok that will allow them to pick and choose a custom set of recipes to try. Sometimes the recipes are Thai dishes our guests love to eat, but often the requests are a special dish to challenge their cooking skills, or knowledge of Thai cuisine.

courageous kitchen 2018-4

All of the food tasted surprisingly great considering the simplicity of the dishes. They were also very accommodating of our recipe requests, and in most cases, added a little bit of a twist to our request in a way that allowed us to experience a new dimension of Thai food. Highly recommend! – Brian

custom cooking class bangkok-1

In a recent class we were joined by two spice loving guests, Brian and Min. The couple of Thai food lovers requested a spicy seafood curry, so our team quickly began to brainstorm what would be best to teach them. The day before their class we experimented with a Thai dish called ‘gaeng kua‘ in our kitchen for the first time. The name may not be very well known, but if you’ve ever had a Thai red curry with pineapple, then you’ve likely had a variation of this dish. The most popular version of this in the US, is often served with large chunks of barbecued duck.

Fortunately, the dish is much easier to make than pronounce. You need to make or buy a quality red curry paste for the best result, but beyond the typical Thai seasonings, the recipe below does not require many exotic ingredients. Try your hand at making this noticeable spicy seafood curry. We love it with squid, mussels, and shrimp, but encourage you to try it with the protein of your choice.

Pineapple and Seafood Red Curry Recipe

Pronounced Gaeng Kua Sapparot Talay in Thai or แกงคั่วสับปะรดทะเล

This recipe serves 1-2 people.


  • 400ml Coconut Milk
  • 1 tbsp Red curry paste
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Palm Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Tamarind juice
  • 100g Seafood (squid, shrimp, or mussels)
  • 50g-100g Pineapple (Sliced thin and about 3-5 cm long)


  • 1 large mild chili (Serrano or similar)
  • 1 small handful Thai sweet basil leaves

1. Heat up the wok and add coconut milk over medium heat.
2. When the coconut milk bubbles, add your curry paste. Stir until it mixes well.
3. Add pineapple, cook 2-3 minutes.
4. Now taste for the sweetness/sourness of the pineapple. Add your seasoning to taste. (Note: You can leave out the tamarind if the pineapple is already very sour.)
5. After adjusting the flavor, add your seafood and additional coconut milk if needed.
6. Remove from heat after your seafood is cooked, garnish with Thai sweet basil, and slices of large mild chili.

Thanks for reading! If you found this recipe useful, consider making a donation below to help us reach and teach vulnerable youth! 

Sponsor Lessons for Courageous Kitchen Students!

Each week Courageous Kitchen provides fun, education instruction to at risk students. This instruction includes English language learning, cooking classes, and special outings. You can donate any amount, but if you’re unsure here are some suggestions:

$1 = sponsor one plate
$30 = sponsor a meal for an entire class
$100 = sponsor a full day of instruction
$400+ = sponsor a month or more of Courageous learning

Each gift given on the form below will help us reach our goal to fund classes for an entire year!

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Donation Total: $30.00

{amount} donation plus {fee_amount} to help cover fees.