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Spicy Thai, Oh My!

Drunk for Drunken Noodles

By Christian LeePublished 2 years ago 3 min read

(A bell rings thrice)

Drunken Noodles to the ring. No, not what you’re thinking: alcohol holds no standing here. It’s pad kee mao–full of spices, sauces, a meat of personal choice and vegetables.

Pad’ means ‘stir-fry’, while ‘kee mao’ means ‘drunkard’. Prior to being converted into a noodle-based dish, its prime base was rice but still full of spices.

Have you heard of it? It's no longer just a go-to meal in Thailand. The U.S. has long caught the aroma of this exquisite dish.

But before I get hasty, let’s talk about you. What’s your diet choice? Pescatarian? Vegetarian? Vegan? Need not worry. Pad kee mao has got your back and your palate. Who doesn’t want a good mouthfeel, right?

You have two easy ready-at-command options (depending on your environment): try it at a local Thai restaurant or make a homemade version of it. My suggestion: the former will entice you to the latter.

And when you’re ready to make music with knives to the cutting board, blend some spices, and fire up the stove, check out Nagi,-a Thai food aficionado and cooking expert.

About the origins of this popular Thai dish, there’s verbal scuffle and fist-throwing anecdotes as to its origins. In one word: mythology. But they’re quite compelling and serve as inspiration to the toes of a tenderfoot that’s yet to walk into it.

One is that the meal was consumed after a post-drinking night. Another is that it could cut through numbed palates of a drinker. The third isn’t a charm, but US troops during the Vietnam war struggled to pronounce the dish.

But my favorite “above” the three is that a woman assorted numerous spices with her husband’s favorite noodles to “cure” his post-drinking behavior. Sounds like a telling fictional tale to me.

All this spout of myth, spice and variety. Are you curious about the ingredients? It didn’t begin with noodles as a base. Rice was the first starch. But just like a good ol’ song of ever-increasing popularity, the dish underwent many moderations'. Some prefer noodles, and different types at that.

Broad rice noodles (my favorite), instant noodles, and even spaghetti are on the list. Whether traditional or modern, the recipe itself can be modified to your liking. Then there’s garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, fresh chilies, and holy basil.

Holy basil isn’t so easy to find, but regular basil would suffice.

This dish, like any other, is arguably at its best when homemade. The control on sauce, oil and spice levels are better monitored–overall the quality of the dish rests on your eyes, desire and preference. Nothing like being independent in the kitchen!

Everyone knows that eating the same dish every day is tantamount to riding the monotony wheel. But I don’t tire of it. It’s been half a year eating pad kee mao. I eat this dish three to four times a week–and only once a day. I prefer it medium-spicy so I can still take in the flavor of the vegetables.

As a pescatarian, I experiment with different seafood. I have tried shrimp, crab meat, and squid. Crab meat and squid are at a deadlock. So goes the many moods to foods.

On the note of cost and pocket-pecking, if you eat at a local Thai restaurant, it ranges from 10 to 13 dollars, save for tax knocking on your wallet. Adding meat shoots the numbers to a range of 16 to 18 dollars.

But why not step up your budget-saving game and tackle your favorite local market or grocery store? Surely they are loaded with the basic ingredients and others about your imagination.

Ready to make some sizzling noise? Get your pan and make the metal tools go click-clank! The summertime is the best time to dive in.

P.S. Never have I taken up the idea of seeing if this cures a hangover or nullifies alcohol in the body. The spice is nice enough. I’m figuratively “drunk” for drunken noodles.

*Feel free to share this little tale of one of my favorite dishes, or leave a charming comment below. Hope you enjoyed!*


About the Creator

Christian Lee

My nom de plume is Lee Arachnid; think: spider-poet. Here you will find non-fiction and poetry. I interweave elements of nature and my personal experience into uniquely crafted stories. I love idleness, Felidae, literature, and soundscapes.

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Comments (1)

  • Luna Jupiter2 years ago

    Your writing is such a vibe. Drunken noodles are my favorite at any Thai restaurant. I enjoyed this piece very much. Super compelling!

Christian LeeWritten by Christian Lee

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