Asian · Recipe

Vegetarian Thai “Drunken Noodles”

I love Thai Food.  If I had to pick something, I would definitely choose either Spicy Basil Chicken or Drunken Noodles.  I love spicy and I love thai basil. A lot-so much so that I’ll tell the restaurant to put extra thai basil in it.  There’s just something about thai basil that makes any thai dishes taste even more amazing. If you’ve never had thai basil than you’re definitely missing out! It’s like Italian basil we’re all familiar with but sweeter.  Yeah, you can definitely substitute it with regular basil but if you happen to stumble upon thai basil, I HIGHLY recommend you to get it and try it the next time you’re in the mood to cook Thai.

Even though I love thai food, my poor mother cannot eat it.  Even though they have some vegetable and tofu options for her, they still put fish sauce in it.  Oh, did I mention that my mother is a vegetarian? Even though fish sauce adds that salty bite, for someone who do not eat seafood, they’ll notice something “fishy” and will not enjoy it.  Over the weekend, my dad decided to make Thai scented mussels so to accompany that, I made Drunken Noodles but with a vegetarian twist.  Now, I know some people will say this isn’t authentic Thai since there’s no fish sauce and that this dish isn’t suppose to have all these veggies but I’m not claiming this dish is authentic–hence why drunken noodles are in quotes ;).   All I can say is that it’s a delicious awesome noodles that even my tiny woman mother can enjoy it :D.

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If you can find Thai Basil, I highly recommend that you use it.  If not, you can definitely sub it with regular basil.  I got mine at an Asian grocery market near my home but I’ve heard that Whole Foods will sometimes have it.  Also, to make it healthier, I threw in more vegetables than what this dish usually calls for. You don’t have to necessarily use the same veggies as I did-get creative and add different kinds :).  Oh and I added more garlic than what it calls for too–like 5 big cloves of it. What can I say..I love garlic :).

Ingredients: ( *See note)

  • 1 lb rice noodles, soaked and drained *
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 bok choy tips, sliced
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced (you can use green or orange)
  • 5 big cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
  • 1 package extra-firm tofu, drained of excess water, cubed *
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil. I used canola but you can use vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 1.5 cups of thai basil, cut into ribbons. You may use regular Italian basil
  • Crushed red chili pepper flakes, to taste, optional
  • Salt, to taste
Ingredients for the noodles
Ingredients for the noodles. Forgot to include thai basil and mushrooms. Oops!


  • 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce *
  • 1 tbsp chili paste. Use less if you want it milder
  • 1 tsp vegetarian oyster sauce *
  • 1 tbsp sugar, brown or white
Ingredients for the sauce
Ingredients for the sauce

Directions

  1. OPTIONAL: In a pan over medium heat, heat 1 tsp of oil and add the tofu. Cook until the tofu is browned.  This is an optional step but I did it so the tofu wouldn’t break up on me with the noodles. 
  2. In a bowl, combine all the “sauce” ingredients and set aside
  3. In a wok, heat 1 tbsp of oil on med-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent
  4. Add the garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the bell peppers and stir fry for another minute or so or until the peppers become a bit tender
  5. Add the bok choy and cook until it becomes tender, about a few minutes
  6. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and some of the water evaporates.
  7. Add the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add the noodles and mix gently until combined. Allow it to cook for 2 minutes
  9. Add the sauce and mix gently until well combined.  Let the sauce cook into the veggies and noodles for 3 minutes.
  10. Season with salt and red chili flakes, to your taste.
  11. Turn off heat and immediately add the thai basil and mix well.
  12. Serve immediately with a lime wedge!

Cook’s Notes:

  1. You can buy rice noodles at any local asian grocery store or grocery store in the “Asian/Thai” section.  I bought my noodles from an Asian grocery store because I wanted wide noodles but you can use pad thai noodles, if that’s all available.  Make sure to follow the instructions on how to soak them but make sure to not soak them until soft.  Keep them a bit under “al dente” since they’ll cook in the wok. Once drained and rinsed with water, add a tad bit of oil to the noodles to prevent them from sticking. I used chili oil for flavor but you can use any oil of your choice. Sesame oil would taste good too!
  2. Make sure to press the tofu to release any water that’s in it.  To do this, wrap up the tofu in several sheets of paper towels and place it on a plate. Put another plate on top of it and then add some weights (I used cans) on top of it. Let it sit like that for about 30 minutes.
  3. Dark soy sauce adds that deep rich flavor compared to regular soy sauce.  It’s pretty difficult to find but if you have an Asian grocery near you, you should be able to find it.  If not, just omit it entirely.  I’ve heard people use a bit of molasses or teriyaki sauce but I haven’t tried it yet. If anyone has a good sub for dark soy sauce, let me know!
  4. Vegetarian oyster sauce uses oyster mushrooms instead of oyster juice.  If you’re not vegetarian, feel free to use just regular oyster sauce but if you’re vegetarian/vegan and cannot find vegetarian oyster sauce, you can use hoisin sauce as a substitute.  I’ve never tried it but I’ve heard people use it as a substitute.
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3 thoughts on “Vegetarian Thai “Drunken Noodles”

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