Drunken Noodles

When I first saw drunken noodles on a menu at a Thai restaurant I ordered it without reading the description.  Noodles?  With alcohol?  What could go wrong?!  When I got my plate, I was surprised to find that there’s no real “drunkenness” involved in drunken noodles, but I totally didn’t care because it was spicy and delicious.  I found this original recipe in Food & Wine magazine a few months ago and tried it, but found that the tofu it calls for took a while and I wasn’t really happy with the result.  I switched to shrimp the next time I made it and found it to be a really great substitute that made the dish a bit more filling.  The main trouble with this dish is that it requires a small amount of several of specialty ingredients – I have some suggestions for substitutions after the recipe to save some money on this dish.

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Drunken Noodles

adapted from Food & Wine

1lb. pad thai rice noodles (I have used Udon, too)

2T olive oil

1lb. small shrimp, tails off and deveined (I buy the bag from Trader Joe’s)

1 cup chicken stock

2T oyster sauce

2T fish sauce

2-3tsp roasted red chile paste

2tsp soy sauce

1tsp sugar

1 bell pepper, sliced

1/2-1 large jalepeno, seeded and sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 red thai chile minced

small bunch basil, chopped (roughly a cup).

lime wedges for serving

1. Boil the noodles according to package directions.  Whisk the stock, oyster sauce, fish sauce, red chile paste, soy sauce, and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the bell pepper, jalepeno, garlic, and red chile cooking over medium-high heat until fragrant (just a few minutes).  Add the noodles and shrimp and stir-fry until the noodles are browned and the shrimp is cooked through (4-5 minutes).

3. Pour the sauce over the top and toss until the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from the heat and fold in the basil.  Serve with lime wedges.

*Note that the level of spiciness can be altered based on how much jalepeno, red chile paste, and red chile you choose to add.  I like it spicy so I use a whole jalepeno, nearly 1T of paste (or sriracha), and a whole red chile.  You could easily scale this back for a less spicy dish.

Maximize your budget:

1. Any protein would work here – I love shrimp, but if you had a grilled chicken breast or two, some leftover brisket, pork, it would work well.  The original recipe calls for tofu, which is really cheap, but frying tofu takes forever and to me, isn’t worth it.

2. If you cook a lot of Asian food, investing in oyster sauce, fish sauce, and red chile paste is reasonable, but if you are unsure, I’d start with just the fish sauce (it lasts forever) doubled to replace the oyster sauce.  I’ve also had a hard time finding red chile paste at my regular grocery store, so I’ve substituted sriracha, which works well (in a pinch, tabasco would probably work fine, too).  The original recipe also calls for “black soy sauce” but regular works fine to me.

3. The original recipe calls specifically for a red bell pepper, which looks pretty in the dish, but they all taste the same.  Unless they are on sale, I use green.

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