I have been working on perfecting an oil free vegan version of drunken noodles (called Pad Kee Mao) to put into our regular meal "rotation". I am a sucker for noodle soups and noodle based dishes, and drunken noodles ticks the boxes for being flavorful, filling, and versatile (in that I can use whatever type of vegetable I have in the fridge... or nearly any type). This recipe for vegan drunken noodles is oil free, and full of fresh and healthy vegetables. You make all elements yourself, including the mushroom based "oyster" sauce, so there are not any fillers or additives in this recipe.
How this recipe was developed
First I worked on a good and reliable vegan oyster sauce recipe, which you can find on this page. The one I found at the store had unhealthy preservatives, so I didn't want to use that as part of this dish.
Then I tried a bunch of different noodle types to use in the dish, and landed on my fave: a sweet potato noodle (although you can certainly swap this out for a different wide rice noodle - more on that below). Then I worked on a sauce to make with the mushroom oyster sauce to use to drench the noodles in.
The result is an inexpensive recipe that you can find below (and is pictured above). Note that this dish typically includes thai basi, which I wasn't able to get locally at the moment.
Keep reading after the recipe for more information on these topics:
- About using alternative types of noodles, such as rice noodles, in this recipe
- About different versions of drunken noodles
- More substitutions and alternative ingredients that you can use in the recipe
Vegan Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup vegetable mushroom oyster sauce Click link for recipe, or see notes.
- 3 Tbsp tamari
- 5 Tbsp mirin
- 6 Tbsp light brown sugar Optional. Can substitute maple syrup.
- 7 cloves garlic Medium or large cloves, minced. See notes.
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1-2 thai chili pepper Optional. Finely chopped. See recipe page for more alternatives.
- 1/4 cup water or low sodium vegetable broth
- 4 cloves garlic chopped or sliced
- 2 cups tofu, firm cubed. See recipe page for protein alternatives.
- 2 cups mushrooms thinly sliced
- 4 cups broccoli florets, bell peppers, green beans Mixture, or use alternatives.
- 4 cups wide sweet potato or rice noodles (cooked) Cook separately and rinse. About 300-400 g. See notes for alternatives.
- 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves Thinly sliced, plus more for garnish. See recipe page for alternatives.
- 1 lime Cut into wedges
- Cook the sweet potato (or rice) noodles in a pot. When finished cooking, rinse and then set aside.
- Add all ingredients in the Sauce section to a bowl, and combine thoroughly.
- Add the sauce, water or broth, garlic, mushrooms, and tofu/protein to a separate large pot bring to a simmer (medium-high on stovetop). Reduce to medium heat.
- Add broccoli, green beans or other vegetables and continue until the sauce is reduced and well thickened. This can take about 10 minutes, give or take. If you have vegetables such as bell peppers that should be cooked for a shorter time (to retain color/crispness), wait until the sauce is nearly thickened before adding.
- Remove from heat, and add the cooked noodles and stir to combine well. Serve with thai basil, lime wedges, and enjoy!
About the noodles
I am using a wide sweet potato noodle for Pad Kee Mao, although wide rice noodles are also used for this dish. Regardless of what type you use, a wide noodle is typical in Drunken Noodles similar to Pad See Ew (they have different flavor profiles). Sweet potato noodles is a different texture and has a slightly different taste than a rice noodle, and I ended up loving sweet potato noodles in this dish. This noodle was recommended to me for drunken noodles by the shop owner where I bought them. However, do use a rice noodle if you can't find them which is more common for Drunken Noodles anyway.
Sweet potato noodles
Sweet potato noodles are made of sweet potato starch and water. You may find them called sweet potato vermicelli noodles, Korean vermicelli noodles (I've only seen thin noodles, you would be looking for wide ones), or similar. This looks like it's a similar product to what I used. A photo of the package I used is here:
Other types of noodles
I tried wide rice noodles too, and preferred the sweet potato noodle in this dish; however, both work just fine. Rice noodles can be found in different widths, and are often sold by size: small, medium, large, x-large. For this recipe, use large or XL width noodles if you can find them.
You will find the widest selection of noodles at an international or Asian grocery store. Many towns have them (I live in a rural area on an island with a not-very-diverse small town/city nearby, which has a small asian market with a huge noodle selection), so if you are not sure search online or ask in a local online community (such as a local vegan Facebook group).
Cooking the noodles
Cook any type of noodle you use in a separate pot following the recommendations on the package. I typically make a bit extra, measure the volume after they are cooked, and put any remaining in the fridge to have as leftovers with some other sauce and vegetables, or just mix into the leftovers of this dish. Or, you may find that you have enough sauce with this dish that you can add extra noodles at the end of the cooking process.
About the noodles and processing
Remember to check the ingredients of whatever noodles you select. While these are not the perfect foods, obviously, they do not have crazy ingredients involved. These noodles are mainly mechanically processed as opposed to adding a bunch of crazy "chemical" ingredients and preservatives. Rice noodles are included on other well known whole food plant based sites made by the medical leaders of our community, such as the Esselstyn's Forks over Knives and Dr. John McDougall. That said, these are still a refined product, and as Dr. McDougall notes, should be a small part of your diet as opposed to a central one.
Substitutes and alternatives for the recipe
Mirin: This product adds both sweet and acid notes. You can substitute sweetened apple juice or puree, or a sweetened or sweet wine.
Thai chili pepper: Instead of the pepper, you can use Sambal oleck, chili garlic sauce, sriracha sauce or another preferred hot sauce. You can also use dried hot chilis, such as chili flakes or similar.
Tofu: Instead of firm tofu you can instead use soy curls (flavored to taste), seitan chunks, or a smoked or baked tofu. Pictured for this recipe is homemade seitan loaf cut into pieces and baked for 20 minutes.
Thai basil: Sub green onions (pictured is green onions - cannot access thai basil sometimes as only one store carries it locally).
Lower sodium version: Swap the tamari for a low sodium soy sauce, coconut aminos, miso paste, or omit and increase the peppers and garlic instead and serve with a bit more lime juice.
See notes about the noodles in section above.
Batch prepare Vegan Drunken Noodles
I often make a triple (or more) batch of the mushroom oyster sauce and the drunken noodle sauce (above), and then freeze a couple portions. This does not take up a lot of room in the freezer.
Then you just need to take out each sauce portion, thaw, and combine. Simmer your vegetables in this while you cook the noodles, and stir. Done, tastes the same, and saves a bunch of time overall.
Share this recipe
Share this recipe with your friends, or save it on Pinterest to make later. This recipe is a full meal in one bowl, and makes a large amount of food.
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