When I was in my 20’s, living in Chicago, my good friend, Carol, took me to her “secret” Thai restaurant. I say secret because she didn’t want the word to get out and risk it getting popular, and thus crowded. It was in the lobby of a transient hotel, for Pete’s sake. Regardless, it was usually full when we stopped in for our Thai fix. And that fix always included Pad See Ew.
Pad See Ew is a Thai stir fried noodle dish with soy sauce. It’s traditionally made with beef and Thai broccoli, and that’s what we got at the transient hotel restaurant, Sukhumvit, which is no more. A platter would arrive and we’d scour the condiments on the table and immediately go for the chopped peanuts and some vinegar with chilies steeping in it. Just really good, and definitely our favorite dish.
Maybe 10 years ago, or so, I stumbled upon a recipe for pad see ew that uses shrimp, and that’s how I started making this iconic Thai dish at home. It’s not hard, but you most likely won’t have the ingredients on hand, a trip to an Asian grocery will be necessary ~ I find the regular grocery stores just don’t have everything I need.
Instead of the Thai broccoli, in this version I use baby bok choy. I just trim the ends and it pretty much separates into pieces. It’s a great alternative and I think I like it better than the broccoli. I sprinkle the finished dish with chopped peanuts and thinly sliced Thai red bird chilies (no real need for the vinegar, but I’ll footnote how to make that).
Pad See Ew is typically made with wide rice stick noodles. I usually have some dry rice stick noodles on hand, but I didn’t have the wide ones. Try not to use really thin ones, like vermicelli. And if you can find fresh ones, even better.
Pad See Ew ~ Thai stir fried noodles with soy sauce, shrimp and baby bok choy. Meathead loves this Shrimp Pad See Ew. I think Carol would, too.
Best, KellyPrint Recipe
Thai street-food staple and restaurant favorite ~ stir fried noodles with soy sauce, shrimp and baby bok choy.
- 3 tbsp Asian fish sauce ~ I like Red Boat brand
- 1 tbsp miso paste
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce ~ I like Kikkoman
- 1 lb baby bok choy (or regular), ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 12 ounces wide rice stick noodles, dried ~ Fresh wide rice noodles, Sen Yai, if you can find
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
- 3/4 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
- Kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 3 Thai bird chilies, thinly sliced (or serrano)
- 2-3 tbsp chopped roasted, salted peanuts
- Lime wedges, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, miso, oyster sauce, sugar and soy sauce. Set aside.
Add the bok choy to the pot of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove to a plate and add the noodles to the water and boil until still firm but pliable, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of oil. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a very large nonstick skillet. Add shrimp, sprinkle with a little salt, and cook until just pink throughout, 2 minutes. Remove shrimp to the plate with bok choy.
Add the remaining 1/4 cup oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, just for 15 seconds or so (careful not to burn). Add the eggs and cook and scramble slightly for 30 seconds. Add the noodles, toss, and then add the soy sauce mixture and toss again. Cook, without stirring, until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir and flip the noodle mixture once, then cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes longer. Add the shrimp and bok choy and toss and cook until just heated through. Transfer noodles and shrimp to serving platter or bowl, sprinkle with peanuts and chilies, serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!
If you want to make the traditional vinegar with pickled peppers condiment to sprinkle on the finished dish:
Slice a couple of long red chilies (preferably prik chi fa), not too spicy, put in a container and cover with plain white vinegar by about an inch or so. Do not use Thai bird chilies and do not use Japanese-style rice vinegar. Cover and let steep at room temperature for 24 - 48 hours, then refrigerate.
*Adapted from Mai Pham, Food & Wine, September, 2005