Spicy Thai Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles with Basil

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

This was an adventure that nearly ended in disaster.  I was really trying to duplicate my favorite restaurant Thai dish that I posted a while back (https://delightfuldeliciousdelovelyblog.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/torung-noodle-36-at-torung-thai-restaurant-in-hollywood/) but what I got was something different.  TASTY – but different.  My first effort resulted in an inky black mush that tasted great but was so ugly – I didn’t even bother to photograph it for this blog.  Then, I thought – “Why not just double the quantity of noodles in the dish?” – just add another whole package of noodles to the existing muck – to water down the darkness – so I did and voila!  The dish you see here is what I served my guests.  I understand this isn’t a proper Drunken Noodle dish because I didn’t use Thai Spicy Basil (no idea where to get that – if it’s not at my Thai market) – but whatever.  I’m not hung up on formality.  Know that this recipe used FOUR POUNDS of fresh noodles.  It was enough to feed at least ten people.  Cut it in half – unless you are either feeding a lot of people or, like me, love having a ton of Thai leftovers.  This will taste better the next day – for sure.  I fed five, sent everyone home with some & still have leftovers for myself.

I used this type of fresh rice noodles:

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Stock photo – https://foursquare.com/v/lucky-kt-noodle/4e109211fa769d21e9e5473f

I think fresh noodles are critical – but I haven’t tried this with a dried version – so maybe I am wrong.  These cost somewhere between a dollar or two and, if the packaging is accurate – all two pounds of noodles contained have a collective count of 292 calories.  Is that possible??  Is is an enormous amount of pasta for 292 calories!  But wassup with the “must be consumed within four hours of manufacture” business??  My Asian market has these things out on a shelf near the produce – not even refrigerated.  Is that safe?  Lord knows the meat & fish section of the store is pretty sketchy!  Pad See EEEEW – if you know what I’m saying.  Larvae?  Pig feet?  Beef bile?  WTF?

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Anyway – I am just gonna go ahead & trust that the four hour warning on the noodles is a typo.

This recipe is going to use something called DARK or BLACK soy sauce & SWEET soy sauce.  I had never used them before & found them to resemble crude oil and they made my first batch of noodles look like something skimmed out of the reeds of Alabama after the BP disaster.  I will try to avoid using these again – especially the sweet stuff – as it was really thick, squid inky & ugly.  I tasted the dark soy sauce & it seemed surprisingly mild to me.  In the future –  I will try to use a substitute of some kind.  Despite the aesthetic drawbacks these ingredients present, however  – the fact is – the dish TASTED very good.  When I work out a prettier version of these noodles – I will share it.

I am going to have you guys make this the way I did – by adding the second package (or second half of the first package – if you are cutting this in half) at the very end – so the noodles stay more in tact & do not absorb all the black goo of the soy sauces.  Also note – these noodles are rolled tight in the package.  Soak them in warm water for a few minutes & then manually separate them from each other.  This is critical because they will not come apart in your wok (or other pan).  They will remain thick & clumped.  Not good.  Once all separated – let them rest in a colander until you are ready to use them.  If they start to dry out or stick – just rinse them with more water.

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Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles

INGREDIENTS

2 packages (4 pounds) of fresh wide rice noodles – or dry substitute cooked according to directions.

3 TBS dark soy sauce

1 TBS sweet soy sauce

1 TBS oyster sauce

4 TBS fish sauce

6 TBS sambal oelek (less or more – according to your tolerance for heat)

1 lime

3 TBS canola or peanut oil

6 garlic cloves – minced

6 eggs

1 medium onion – sliced

1 large shallot – chopped

1 red bell pepper – sliced into slivers with a little set aside – diced & reserved for garnish

1 cup Thai basil – chopped

6 large mushrooms – sliced (optional)

5 heads bok choy (optional) – or other meat/fish/veggies of your choice

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DIRECTIONS

Soak & separate your fresh noodles – or cook dry ones according to instructions.  Set aside in a colander – rinsing occasionally so they don’t stick & set.

Scramble the eggs in a small pan & set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or other LARGE pan and add the garlic, onions, shallot & mushrooms & saute until the onions are soft.

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Add the red bell pepper & saute another minute or two.

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Blend the sweet soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce & fish sauce in a bowl & add to the onion mixture in the wok.

If you are using a meat or fish – add that here & saute until done.  I did not use anything like that in my version.

Add HALF the noodles & stir them in well until they are well coated with the sauce.  They should look pretty dark & unappealing.  These noodles might break up a bit, too.  That’s fiine – let them.  These dark & broken apart noodles will serve as a kind of sauce on the second portion of noodles added later.  Add the sambal oelek & the juice of the lime & stir it in well.  A few minutes before you are ready to serve the dish – carefully mix in the remaining noodles, bok choy, Thai basil & the scrambled eggs.  Try not to break up the noodles  – striving to keep as many as possible in the longest possible length and maybe don’t stir so much – so that not all the noodles get completely covered in sauce.  Cook 2-3 minutes or until the bok choy is wilted but still vibrant.

Serve on individual plates & garnish with diced red bell pepper and/or some sliced Thai basil.  Extra sambal oelek can be added individually by those who want a hotter dish.

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Torung Noodle – #36 – at Torung Thai Restaurant in Hollywood

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TORUNG – https://plus.google.com/103247393426794862308/about?gl=us&hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Torung-Restaurant/114161131949052

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Torung Noodles

OK, I have been going to Torung (at the corner of Hollywood Blvd & Wilton) since 1982.  In about 1986, I discovered a dish there with my then boyfriend.  It was called the #7 – or Torung Special Noodles.  It is described on the current menu as:

**Torung Noodle (the double asterisk indicates “very spicy hot dish”)

Spicy pan fried rice noodles with bok choy.

You can order it with your choice of meat – chicken, pork, beef, tofu – for $5.45 or with shrimp, or a mix of chicken-beef-shrimp-squid – for $6.15.  Back in the day, it automatically came with chicken.  In about 1989 or so, when I gave up meat, I began ordering it with nothing added – just the noodles, egg, bok choy & house spice combination.  I think it used to cost $3.45.  To say that I was obsessed with #7 is an understatement.  I could eat it every day for dinner and for long stretches – did just that.  My boyfriend had an addiction to the nearby (and original location of) Zankou Chicken (at Sunset & Normandie) so, sometimes, we would each just indulge our individual tastes.  Eventually, however, he got so fed up with my “Number Seven” response to his “what should we do for dinner?” question – that he forbade me to utter the words “number” and “seven.”   Ever.  This might sound extreme – but we were both fixated with & endlessly quoting Lost in America, at the time.  I believe this was his homage to Albert Brooks forbidding Julie Hagerty from using either the word “nest” or “egg” – after she lost their nest egg playing Number 22 in Roulette in Vegas.  Still, to this day, I sometimes expect thunder to clap & lightning to strike me down when I dare utter the phrase, “number seven.”

Imagine my mixed emotions, years later, when they reassigned the dish and it became known as “Number 36.”  In one way, it seemed somehow like a fresh start & a guiltless way to order an old standby delight.  On the other hand, it felt a bit like the end of an era.  That Zankou Chicken loving boyfrrend is now the King of Pizza at Pink Flamingo in Paris (cited on this blog already a few times) and hears the words number & seven in French now (numéro sept), stirring no irksome memories of my spiral-eyed addiction to a certain spicy Thai dish, while I remain in Los Angeles and order Torung Noodles by calling the restaurant and saying, “Number 36, please.  No meat.”   There is something sad about that…though I don’t know what it could possibly be.  🙂

The good news is – Torung Noodles have persevered – and they are as delicious as ever!  A very simple dish, just big, flat rice noodles, stir-fried with egg, bok choy & some amazing combination of indistinguishable spices.  It is not too greasy & one order is a pretty hefty quantity for a person eating it alone – as I do.  No bullshit “community” Thai family-style sharing of my almighty Number 7.  And – Number 7 is how is remains known by anyone that has known me (and my obsession) for any length of time.  I have ordered this so many times & with such unrelenting frequency – I can call after having been gone away for a year or more and order “Torung Special Noodles – no meat” and they say, “Is this Christine?”

Torung has many other dishes worth mentioning & several that should probably be avoided.  The old menu had a dish that contained “pre-served vegetables.”  I assume the vegetables were preserved rather than pre-served – but it was a genuine put-off all the same.  Sadly, the new menu seems to have gotten rid of most, if not all, of the hilarious typos….but as long as Torung Noodles – called by any number – are on there – I will return.  Again & again & again.

Know that the room is an evolving mishmash of schizophrenic decor.  It used to have the requisite gilt-framed portraits of the Thai women in those unicorn hats alongside Snoopy paper lanterns and dusty Xmas decorations (year round).  There are TV’s & an indoor fountain in which there might – or might not – be fish.  It is ALL comfortable booths, though, and a really diverse clientele.  While they are often crowded – you VERY seldom have to wait.  Their hours are LATE.  They do not open until 6pm (despite the menu I have which says they open at 5pm) and they close at 3AM – 3:30am on Friday & Saturday.  It is CASH ONLY (but the most $$$ dish on the menu is only $8.45 – a spicy seafood combination plate) and parking is a son of a bitch.  Do not park at the Mobil or Pier One – because they tow.

I will post about Torung again in the future & point out a few other dishes that I find quite tasty – their soups, in particular.

So – go to Torung – and DEFINITELY order the former #7 – the Torung Noodles #36.

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012