Drunken Noodles

September 12, 2011 · 25 comments

in asian,chicken/poultry,dairy-free,pasta,quick and easy

You know how, when you’re discussing lunch or dinner with a family member, friend, coworker, or even an acquaintance, and you ask, “What do you want for dinner?” and any one of those people inevitably reply “Thai!”?

Yeah, well, I’m not one of those people.

Much (much) to my husband’s disappointment, I’ve really just never been a fan of Thai food. The reasons are pretty simple and include the fact that that I’m not crazy about peanut sauces, I don’t like cilantro, and I’m hesitant about coconut milk in savory food. And when you take away those three things, that leaves you with…well, not Thai.

I’ve been trying it here and there in an attempt to acquire a taste for it (and to appease Tom occasionally) but it’s just not my thing. Recently, when I was sick of all the places near my (old) job to eat lunch, I bit the bullet and tried Thai again.

As you’d imagine, my eyes instantly gravitate toward any dish that has a picture of one of those little peppers beside it. My gaze fell upon drunken noodles. A quick description mentioned nothing of cilantro or peanut sauce, so I went ahead and got carry out.

(Just so you know, there’s  nothing “drunken” about these. They get their name because they are so spicy you need to drink a lot of water.)

Considering this post, it’s pretty obvious I liked them quite a bit. Eventually, I set out to make my own. It was QUITE the ordeal, let me tell you. This recipe calls for black soy sauce and Golden Mountain seasoning, both of which had me hanging a “WTF?” bubble above my head. After reading the reviews, though, it was obvious regular soy sauce was not going to be a suitable sub.

I checked my local ethnic market, which carries tons of international specialties, and was surprised they didn’t have either. I checked another market and no dice.  Have I mentioned I’m unemployed now? I don’t think so. In any case, what’s an unemployed person to do on a Wednesday besides travel to a not-so-favorite part of town in search for random Asian ingredients?

Of course I missed the bus and decided to take the train. The train took forever to come, was moving at a snail’s pace, and—because it took forever to come and was moving at a snail’s pace—had to run “express” to a station farther than where I was going, so I had to get off and wait for another train to come. After wandering aimlessly around the Asian market trying to figure out if I was getting the right stuff, I missed yet another bus and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one.

It took me nearly 2.5 hours to acquire special soy sauce and Golden Mountain seasoning. I was going to be pretty pissed if this dish didn’t turn out.

(Did I mention that I completely forgot to look for Thai chilies so that, in the end, I STILL ended up substituting something? Yep. Thank goodness for the ever-present jar of Sambal Oelek in the fridge.)

Thankfully, it did turn out. PHEW. And now I have all the ingredients to make it again and again, and I even officially have a standby dish to order the next time my husband insists on Thai.

This dish is spicy, yes. But, the soy sauce and golden mountain seasoning are both sweet, and of course so are the basil leaves, all which balance out the heat. You could, of course, decrease the chili peppers or chili paste to your liking.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne September 12, 2011 at 5:35 am

I’m actually an obsessive compulsive fan of thai food…but I’ve never actually had drunken noodles! You’ve inspired me to make the trek to either Chinatown or Flushing to pick up those key ingredients…hopefully it won’t take 2.5 hours.

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katie September 12, 2011 at 7:53 am

I am a huge fan of Thai food, but neither peanut sauce or coconut milk are my favorites. These noodles look amazing~ I cannot wait to try them. I am lucky to live in Houston and have fantastic Asian markets closeby, my favorite is the place where you can BYOB from the market to the Pho/Asian-style crawfish places inside and then go do a little shopping afterwards. I always come home with the strangest stuff to try. I will add golden mountain seasoning and black soy sauce to my list next time so I can make this.

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Laura September 12, 2011 at 8:07 am

This looks soo incredibly good. I’m gonna have to order those two ingredients on the netskis though. There’s no way I will find them around here!

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Kelsey September 12, 2011 at 10:58 am

These look incredible. I love drunken noodles! I wasn’t a Thai fan (mostly because of curry) before meeting my husband. Luckily, I’ve discovered it’s yellow curry that gets me, so I still have plenty of options left.

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Nicki September 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm

So, this is my husband’s favorite Thai dish. One day, he was deciding to be helpful in the kitchen and tried to make this by randomly googling recipes… (not the best idea with my hubby’s cooking knowledge.) He ended up attempting to make them, but added 1 CUP of fish sauce! OMG, needless to say, disaster awaited me in the kitchen. :-) So excited to have a good recipe, with the proper ingredients to try out!

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elly September 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Holy cow, Nicki, that is a LOT of fish sauce!

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Jessica September 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I attempted pad Thai a few weeks ago and it was a disaster. My rice noodles were a mushy mess and I tried to make substitution for another ingredient. I find that substituting in Asian food rarely works for me (that time I was trying to sub Oyster sauce for Fish sauce). So I completely understand your long trip out. I am so glad it turned out after that whole ordeal! Now I might need to set out on a mission for those ingredients :)

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themilkmanswife September 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Your three reasons for not loving Thai are the same as mine! These noodles look like a great way to expand my horizons. I’ve yet to discover all the international food stores in our new area but this may be the perfect reason to seek out an Asian market. YUM! Thank you for sharing!!

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Ashlae September 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I just finished eating, but that photo is making my mouth water. And I don’t even eat chicken! I’ll be making a tofu version in the near future – I love drunken noodles.

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Banana Wonder September 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I am impressed elly! You did good for not even liking Thai cuisine and facing massive public transportation/larder adversity. I love Thai food but have yet to try my hand at making anything, you have inspired me!

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Erna April 30, 2013 at 5:40 pm

It sounds like Indonesian fried noodles which use Indonesian soy sauce or Kecap Manis..and sambal oelek actually came from Indonesia too.

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Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul September 14, 2011 at 1:14 am

Sorry to hear that you’re unemployed…but I had to giggle about your adventure to get the soy sauce! As for this dish…it’s one of my many favourite Thai noodle dishes (you should also try pad see ew gai). Thai is my favourite South East Asian cuisine!

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Nicole, RD September 14, 2011 at 9:03 am

I had to laugh because every dislike you had of Thai food are the reasons I love it so! Especially the coconut milk in savory dishes…yum! I have so much trouble finding Thai basil, though. Where are you able to find it?

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elly September 14, 2011 at 9:12 am

Nicole, I actually received it in my CSA, so I’m no help there. Sorry! The original recipe says you can use regular basil – although, that would definitely have quite a different taste IMO.

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Food Jaunts September 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

So what exactly is Golden Mountain seasoning? I’ve got dark soy sauce (both the regular version and kecap manis) on hand but I’ve never heard of the seasoning before?

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elly September 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Golden mountain sauce is fermented soy beans, too, but it’s a little saltier and a little sweeter than soy. I’ve read that Maggi is a good sub, and so is a mixture of regular soy sauce with a bit of sugar and broth. Not sure how accurate those would be, though, since I haven’t tried them.

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Kerstin September 14, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Is there an HMart by you? I don’t remember one in Chicago, but they have it all! I love Thai, so this is right up my alley!

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elly September 15, 2011 at 7:20 am

Hmm, I’ve never heard of it! I don’t think we have one, but I could be wrong.

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Candace September 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

I could go for Thai food every day. All of the reasons that you don’t like it are all of the reasons that I do! I’ve never tried the drunken noodles before probably because it doesn’t have peanut sauce, cilantro and coconut milk. Having said that, your dish looks fantastic and I’m pretty sure that I need to try it soon. I’m going to have to find an ethnic market first; but, I’m willing to go the distance. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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Ranjani October 2, 2011 at 8:07 pm

This. looks. incredible. Drunken noodles is my favorite Thai dish!!

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Mary watts February 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I just asked the question of how drunken noodles got its name at a Thai restaurant and was told that it was because it was a popular dish with drunks after a night of drinking :) In the U.K. Vindaloo curry is the favored dish of drunks after drinking, perhaps because it is also a very spicy dish

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Deana July 22, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Well I made this Delish Dish for my Husband and he said that this was his favorite meal he has ever ate in his LIFE!!!! Think I will be making this recipe in the near future.

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elly July 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

That’s quite a statement, Deana! Glad it went over well. :)

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