The name Pad See Ew (ผัดซีอิ๊ว) literally translates to "fried soy sauce" and as the name would indicate, the primary seasoning of this rice noodle dish is soy sauce, providing rich umami flavor. The key to getting the mahogany brown hue on the noodles is to use dark soy sauce. Unlike East Asian soy sauce, Thai dark soy sauce is nearly black in color, with a viscosity comparable to maple syrup, and a sweet fragrance reminiscent of molasses.
You can use any protein, like beef, pork, or chicken, or even tofu or shrimp, to make Pad See Ew, but be sure to marinate it with some soy sauce and potato starch. The soy sauce seasons the protein while the starch helps hold in its juices, keeping it moist and tender. Because all the ingredients have different cooking times, it can be a bit tough to time everything right. That's why I like to simplify things by cooking the chicken separately before I cook the noodles.
Aside from the soy sauce, the other key flavor component to this dish is not listed in the ingredients. That's because it's the smoky taste you get from being stir-fried in a high temperature wok (I like to call it "burnt wok flavor"). Unfortunately, not all of us have a high BTU wok burner in our homes, and there's nothing worse than using a wok over a weak flame. So I've adapted this Pad See Ew recipe to work in a frying pan. Just be sure to use a frying pan or large skillet that's big enough for the amount of food you put in it. This works great in a 12-inch pan. Because Pad See Ew cooks very quickly, it's important to have all your ingredients prepared and ready to go into the pan one after the other.
While sen yai (or ho fun) fresh rice noodles work best, they can be hard to find outside of Thailand, which is why I've written the directions for this Pad See Ew recipe using dried noodles. I used some dried noodles that come in 2-inch-wide square "flakes". Be sure to rehydrate them completely before using. They take about 2 hours to rehydrate with room temperature water, or about 10 minutes if you use boiling water.
Pad See Ew doesn't have any chili peppers in the dish, but it's usually served with chili peppers pickled in vinegar. The chilies and vinegar make for a spicy condiment that not only brings a bit of heat to the noodles, it provides a refreshing tang. You can make this buy slicing up some of your favorite chilies(I used serrano chilies), then soaking them in vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar) for a few days.
More Thai Dishes
- 150 grams dry wide rice noodles (or 350 grams fresh, sen yai)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 12 grams garlic (2 large cloves finely chopped)
- 2 eggs
- 100 grams gailan or other green vegetable, such as broccoli florets or Chinese broccoli
- 200 grams chicken (thinly sliced)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon potato starch
pad see ew sauce
- 1 tablespoon Thai dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons evaporated cane sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
- pickled chili peppers
- Rehydrate the noodles in cold water for 2 hours, or boil water and soak for 10 minutes.
- Put the chicken in a bowl and stir in the 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Add the potato starch and mix to combine, set aside.
- Make the Pad See Ew sauce by combining the dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and white pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Prepare all the other ingredients.
- Heat a large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the chicken until cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the garlic until fragrant.
- Add the eggs and break them up with a spatula scrambling them.
- When the eggs are mostly (but not fully) cooked, add the gailan and stir-fry until it is bright green and wilted (but not fully cooked).
- Add the rehydrated noodles and sauce and stir-fry, tossing to coat evenly. If you notice the noodles sticking together you can add a bit more oil to help free them up.
- When the sauce is evenly distributed, return the chicken to the pan, stop stirring and let the noodles brown for a bit on one side before tossing to redistribute and brown some more.
- Plate the noodles and serve with pickled chili peppers.