How is it possible for noodles to get drunk, let alone really drunk as the Thai name ‘Phat Khi Mao’ implies?
Well, I don’t know the answer, but I do know pat khi mao translates into the English words “fried” (phat) and “really drunk” (khi mao). The word noodle is not present in the name, yet somehow everybody seems to know it’s a stir-fried noodle dish, and one that packs a very spicy punch!
There has been much speculation about the naming of this dish. One theory is it was first concocted by an astonishingly inebriated individual who threw any ingredient that came to hand, including way too many spicy chili peppers, into the wok. Others claim the dish won its name because its spiciness required copious amounts of cold beer to tamp down the heat, and by the time the spicy noodles were consumed, the eater was legless with liquor. Some insist the dish is so named because only a drunken fool would be capable of eating something so spicy. Possibly the name derived from the original recipe, made popular by Chinese immigrants living in Laos and Thailand, allegedly called for a healthy dose of rice wine.
Fried drunken noodles is yet another in a long line of dishes conceived by a neighboring nation that Thailand has made its own. Phat khi mao is similar to phat si io (fried noodles with soy sauce) but has a different flavour profile, the result of the hot chili peppers and fresh Thai basil. Like most Thai stir-fries, it can be ordered with chicken (gai), pork (moo), beef (nuea), shrimp (gung), mixed seafood (ahaan talay) or tofu (dtao hoo) and vegetables (pak).
Ordering drunken noodles Thai style might have you thinking you’re ingesting unrefined napalm, so order it “mai phet” and the cook will cut down on the chili peppers. To help acclimate your taste buds to spicy Thai food, order a cold beer or soda, take small bites, and have a sip of your beverage between each mouthful. Before long your palate will be armour plated, and you’ll be eating like you were born in Isaan in no time at all. If the noodles are still too hot for your liking, a serving of anything sugary and sweet afterwards will help to cool your sweating tongue down.
Although the individual make-up of phat khi mao differs at each establishment, it’s easy to find at most street food venues, and will generally contain wide rice noodles, assorted vegetables, an egg, tofu, bean sprouts, red chili peppers, Thai basil, garlic, sugar, soy and oyster sauce, as well as the meat or seafood of your choice.
How to make Phat Ki Mao