Drunken noodles, or pad kee mao, and less frequently pad ki mao, is a Chinese-influenced dish that was made popular by the Chinese people living in Thailand and Laos.

In Thai, khi mao means drunkard. It is a stir-fried noodle dish very similar to phat si-io, but with a slightly different flavor profile. It is normally made with broad rice noodles, oyster sauce, fish sauce, garlic, meat, seafood or tofu, bean sprouts or other vegetables and various seasonings. Bird’s Eye chilies and holy (Thai) basil give rise to its distinctive spiciness.

Thai Drunken Noodles

For the noodles:

8 oz. broad rice noodles

Hot water

For the sauce:

3 Tbsp. oyster sauce

3 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp Maggi sauce (or Thai Golden Mountain Sauce)

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 Tbsp. water

14 oz. extra firm tofu, sliced into cubes

½ red onion, sliced

3 scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces

2 c. shredded Napa cabbage

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 Thai bird's eye chilies, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. peanut (or canola) oil

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

For the garnishes:

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1 carrot, grated

1 c. roughly chopped Thai basil leaves

1 c. bean sprouts

Lime wedges for serving

Place noodles in a large bowl; pour hot water over to completely submerge. Let soak until tender but not mushy, 7 to 10 minutes, maybe longer. Here’s a way to test them: The noodles are soft enough when they can be twirled around your fingers without breaking. Drain; add cold water to completely cover noodles, and then set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Transfer sauce to a zip-close plastic bag. Place the sliced tofu in the bag and set aside to marinate.

Heat peanut oil in a large wok or pan and then add the red onions, scallions, cabbage, garlic and chilies to the pan; stir-fry 1 minute.

Reserve the marinade and transfer the tofu along with the sesame oil to the pan and stir-fry with the vegetables for 3 minutes, or until cooked through.

Drain the noodles, and add to the wok along with the remaining marinade. Toss well and stir-fry for another 2 minutes until the noodles are hot.

Garnish with grated carrots, chopped basil leaves, bean sprouts and lime wedges.

Pair this with Brander’s 2015 Cuvee Natalie. This perennial favorite, named after owner and winemaker Fred Brander’s late daughter, exhibits remarkable balance and extraordinary zip with this 2015 vintage. A blend of 37% sauvignon blanc (Brander Estate Vineyard), 38% pinot gris and 25% Riesling (both from the Kick-on Ranch Vineyard), this vintage shows as a very pale gold in the glass, and opens with aromas of honeysuckle and fresh lychee nut. The generous and piquant palate echoes the lychee nut found on the nose, and also suggests pink grapefruit zest and native California sourgrass.


John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at sacredmeals@comcast.net.