Drunken Udon Noodles
Last year during my PAX East sojourn I discovered the magic of drunken udon noodles…basically a very clever variation of pad khee mao that was positively amazing and has served to haunt me ever since I had it for the first time (and every other single time I’ve traveled to Boston). It only makes sense that this be the dish that would bring me out of my cooking hiatus and get me back on track!
The last few weeks have been a little tough…we were unfortunately faced with the loss of one of my most staunch and faithful supporters and kitchen cheerleaders last month, Chyna. After 12 amazing years, our little pug angel had to say goodbye to us and move onto the next chapter of her life’s journey. It’s admittedly been a little disconcerting without her at my feet while I’m prepping ingredients or eagerly looking up with her “Let me quality control test that bit of food for you!!” but Molly has managed to shoulder the extra responsibility and help fill the gaps. Molly has enthusiastically given her beagle howl of approval for this dish as the aromas came wafting up from my trusty stove…
And seriously, this dish is no joke. The inviting smell of the fresh garlic and chili peppers as they sauteed in my wok really made me remember why it is that I enjoy cooking as much as I do…there is nothing in this world like a plate of great homemade food. Nothing. What I like so much about this dish is that while it has the wonderfully complex flavor profile of pad khee mao I really enjoy the textural difference of the udon. It’s got a slightly chewier bite to it over the flat, wide rice noodles and really does an amazing job of soaking up the pad khee mao sauce which, honestly, is where the magic’s at.
I purchased my udon as a “bulk pack” at my local asian supermarket. This particular package that I picked up also makes prepared noodles that you can use for lo mein and wonton noodle soup. I have also seen bulk udon in the freezer section at the H-Mart korean supermarket nearby. It may take a bit to find its exact location at the supermarket, but it’s becoming more and more popular…if you don’t see it, just ask. It should be there somewhere 🙂
This can take a bit of time to prepare as you can have a myriad of different ingredients that you can put into there, but this dish is extremely adaptable so feel free to add or omit whatever additional veggies or proteins you’d like. I would recommend sticking with the same sauce ingredients and proportions however and to not skimp on the Thai basil as this constitutes the heart of this dish.
Drunken Udon Noodles
Adapted by TastyDesu
1 package (16oz) fresh udon noodles
1/2 cup white, firm tofu
1/2 cup beef, chicken, or shrimp
1 tablespoon garlic chili paste
1-2 Thai serrano chilis, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Assorted veggies (I used 1/2 cup baby bok choy, green and white parts separated; 1/4 cup carrots; 1/2 cup diced red peppers; 1/2 cup snow peas; 1 onion, cut into wedges )
2 eggs, lightly scrambled
1/2 cup packed Thai basil leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon regular soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons golden mountain soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nuoc mam)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
4 tablespoons oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Prepare tofu by pressing tofu with paper towels to remove as much water as possible. Cut into bite sized pieces, about 1″ x 1/4″, pressing each piece gently with paper towel to remove more moisture. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in pan over medium heat until it starts to shimmer. Add tofu and fry until golden, flipping over to ensure even browning on both sides. Set aside on paper towel.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in pan, I recommend a nonstick wok, and heat on high till oil shimmers. Add garlic, chili paste, and sliced chilis. Saute until garlic is a light brown…don’t leave unattended as garlic can burn very easily and stand back as it pops! I have a battle scar on my arm from an errant popping piece of garlic attempting to jump to freedom.
Once garlic is browned, add your protein(s) and saute until those are no longer pink. Add your veggies and continue to saute until all is cooked through. You may add 1 tablespoon of water here to help facilitate the veggies cooking.
Add noodles and continue to fry for a minute or two. These noodles shouldn’t stick, but if they do, you may had a little water, sparingly, to help it unstick. Add in tofu and any of your more delicate veggies.
After about 2 minutes, add the soy sauces, sugar, and hoisin. Stir well to mix. Once everything is all incorporated, add basil and vinegar. Stir again to mix. Once basil has wilted, it’s done. Remove from heat and serve.