What is your favorite Thai noodle dish? Personally, I can’t get enough when it comes to Thai food. Beyond stir-fries, there’s a long list of noodle soups that are all mouthwatering, but that will be a story for some other time. Since I’ve already shared rad na (aka rat na), a noodle dish with gravy, this time we’ll make stir-fried pad see ew. Similar to rad na, pad see ew also uses flat rice noodles, known as sen yai in Thai. Pad see ew is believed to have origins in Chinese cooking, which uses the same type of noodles, called hor fun (Cantonese) or he fen (Mandarin). Pad see ew literally translates to “stir-fry soy sauce,” so, as the name implies, Thai soy sauce is key here (I like Golden Mountain brand). For the noodles, you can start with uncut, then cut by hand into 1-inch-wide ribbons. Or you can start with pre-cut, like these from Nona Lim. (In a pinch, you can even start with dried rice noodles, such as these ones from A Taste of Thai. Before you get started, soak the noodles in very hot water for about 30 minutes, then drain and follow the recipe as written.) The noodles are quickly tossed in a sweet soy sauce mixture, your protein of choice (tofu for me), and gai lan (Chinese broccoli). I really love gai lan’s fresh taste and crunchy texture in this dish; however, if you can’t find any near you, the closest sub is broccolini. Similar to other Thai noodle dishes, a wok is highly recommended here, but a nonstick skillet will work if you don’t have one. To go with the pad see ew, I love making a simple two-ingredient condiment, inspired by Marion’s Kitchen. Simply chop 2 or 3 Thai chiles, cover in rice or distilled vinegar, and let it steep while you make this dish. It’s definitely a keeper for noodle dishes.
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- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Serves 2
soy sauce, plus more to taste
vegan fish sauce, plus more to taste
thick caramel sauce (or ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce)
- Pad See Ew
fresh flat rice noodles (see Author Notes)
neutral oil, such as canola
garlic cloves, minced
1 to 2 cups
roughly chopped gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
tofu, sliced, pan-fried, and salted
Ground white pepper
Pickled chiles or red pepper flakes, for serving
- First, prepare the sauce by combining the soy sauce, vegan fish sauce, sugar, and caramel sauce in a bowl. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
- Using your fingers, separate the noodles—this is crucial to ensure all the strands get coated with sauce. (If your rice noodles are stiff, place them in a microwaveable bowl, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for about 1 minute to soften.)
- Heat a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the gai lan, tofu, and 1 tablespoon of the prepared sauce. Using a pair of tongs, toss to combine.
- Add the noodles and remaining sauce. Toss the noodles until all of them are coated. (You may use a spatula or chopsticks to help if needed.)
- Spread out the noodles and let cook, untouched, to char the noodles a little, 1 to 2 minutes. This step is to give the noodles aroma and flavor.
- Taste and season with more soy sauce or vegan fish sauce if needed. Add a pinch of ground white pepper, then serve with pickled chiles and their vinegar or red pepper flakes.