When I make a dish on rotation for months on end it’s usually because it’s really tasty and low effort. Pad See Ew is an exception; I think it requires more effort than a typical stir-fry but I’ve been cooking it non-stop anyway. I’m not saying that it’s difficult either but there are several steps and timing is key. The veg needs to be prepped, eggs beaten, sauce mixed and noodles soaked and drained so that they can be cooked while they’re fresh and warm.
On top of that, the vegetables and eggs are cooked first, then they're transferred to a plate so that the noodles and sauce get the wok to themselves, after which the veg goes back in. Are you thinking what I was thinking? Why not just leave the veg in the wok? It’s all going to be combined eventually. Look at the caramelised noodles though - they’re what this dish is all about and they won’t caramelise if they have to share the wok with veg and protein. I follow the instructions diligently because the end result is worth it and it took me at least three attempts to nail this dish but I’ve got it now. I crank my hob’s biggest burner up as high as it will go, don’t skimp on the oil and get everything prepped before I go anywhere near the wok.
It’s worth the effort, I swear. The recipe comes from RecipeTin Eats, my all-time favourite food blog, but having cooked this dish over and over I’ve amended it to suit my palate and the contents of my fridge. My version strays far and wide from the original so if you want authentic Pad See Ew, go to RecipeTin Eats. This recipe uses half the amount of sauce as the full amount is too salty for me, possibly because I use Lee Kum Kee’s Premium Oyster Sauce, which is quite concentrated. I change up the vegetables based on what I have to hand and the best version I ever made contained chicken, like the original, but I hardly ever make this dish with meat. I hope all the steps haven’t put you off; this is an incredible dish and the sole reason I haven’t ordered a Thai takeaway in months.
This is probably sacrilege but I love using frozen tenderstem broccoli in this dish if I'm out of fresh vegetables - I add it straight to the wok from frozen and the texture reminds me of choi sum.
I soak the dried, wide rice noodles in freshly boiled water for 6-8 minutes, depending on the brand. Aim for an al dente texture - soft throughout but with bite. Don’t be alarmed if the noodles break up a bit while they’re cooking in the wok; despite being wider than Pad Thai noodles they’re more delicate.
- 2 spring onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 200g choi sum or pak choi (or frozen broccoli, see notes)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (1 tbsp to stir fry the veg and 1 tbsp for the noodles)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- sriracha or chilli oil (to finish, optional)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee's Premium Oyster Sauce)
- 1 tbsp water
- 160g dried, wide rice noodles
- Stir-fry: Finely slice 2 spring onions, chop 2 cloves of garlic and slice 200g of choi sum or pak choi into 4cm pieces. Set aside a small handful of the sliced green spring onions to finish the dish with later.
- Sauce: Combine 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Stir well and set to one side.
- Noodles: Fill and boil your kettle. Place 160g of dried, wide rice noodles into a large bowl and cover with freshly boiled water. Set a timer for 6 minutes.
- Stir-fry: While the noodles are soaking, place your wok over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Swirl the oil around then add the sliced spring onion and chopped garlic. Stir fry for 1 minute then add the choi sum or pak choi. Stir fry for another minute.
- Make a space in the middle of the wok and pour in 2 beaten eggs. Let the eggs sit for 1 minute then move them around until they scramble and are cooked through. Tip the contents of the wok onto a plate - I use a silicone spatula to get every last bit of vegetable and egg out of the wok.
- Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the wok (I don’t bother to clean the wok between cooking the vegetables and noodles). Place the wok on your largest burner and turn it up as high as it will go. Consider opening a window.
- Noodles: While the wok is heating up, give the noodles a stir to separate them.
- When the 6 minute timer sounds, taste the noodles to check that they’re soft but al dente. They may need to soak for another 1-2 minutes.
- Once the noodles are ready, drain them into a colander shaking off any excess water then tip them into the wok, immediately followed by the sauce. Leave the noodles for about 30 seconds then gently turn them so that they get thoroughly coated in the sauce. Avoid moving the noodles around too much or they’ll break into pieces. After about 1 minute the noodles should have absorbed some of the sauce and caramelised a little around the edges (the timing may vary depending on how hot your wok is).
- Stir-fry: Add the vegetables and eggs back into the wok, gently mix and once everything’s heated through (1-2 minutes) remove the wok from the heat and transfer the noodles to warm plates to eat immediately. Drizzle sriracha or chilli oil over the noodles if you'd like some heat but it’s entirely optional.