Have you ever ordered Pad see ew from a Thai restaurant before? And then, the next time you went to that same Thai restaurant, you ordered Pad kee mao and noticed that they're essentially the same dish? You're not crazy.
There is a difference between these two popular Thai street dishes, but they can be hard to spot if you don't know what to look for. By understanding these differences, you can confidently order your favorite Thai dish the next time you visit your favorite Thai restaurant! So, today, we're going to show you the key differences between Pad see ew and pad kee mao.
What is Pad See Ew?
Pad see ew is a popular Thai street food dish made with wide, flat rice noodles, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, garlic, white pepper, sugar, eggs, and your choice of protein. The most common proteins used in Pad see ew are chicken, shrimp, or tofu.
Pad see ew literally translates to "stir-fried soy sauce noodles." To flavor the noodles, two different types of soy sauce are used: light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. These sauces give the noodles a signature salty-sweet flavor that is hard to resist. Cook in a wok over high heat, and you'll end up with a smoky, slightly charred, and oh-so-delicious dish.
The ease of cooking and the smoky flavor of Pad see ew have made it a popular dish among foreigners and locals alike. If you order Pad see ew at a Thai restaurant, you can expect to find wide rice noodles that have been stir-fried with eggs and your choice of protein. The noodles will be coated in a dark soy sauce and served with a sweet and sour chili on the side.
The dish's origins are unclear, but it is likely to have developed somewhere in Thailand's central region. In Thailand, it has become so popular that you can now find it everywhere and in Thai restaurants around the world.
What is Pad Kee Mao?
Pad kee mao, also known as "drunken noodles," is a popular Thai street food dish made with wide rice noodles, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, garlic, white pepper, green beans, bell peppers, and your choice of protein. In pad kee mao, chicken, shrimp, or tofu are the most common proteins.
Pad kee mao is a dish often associated with Bangkok, but you can find it all over Thailand. This dish gets its name from the Thai words for "drunken" (pad kee) and "noodles" (mao).
Why do they call them Drunken Noodles?
There are several theories about how Pad kee mao got its name.
- A theory suggests that it was created for drunk people looking for a late-night snack. Thus the dish became known as the "drunken noodles."
- Another theory is that the dish is so spicy that it will make you sweat, leading to dehydration and a hangover. There is some debate about whether or not this dish is actually spicy, but we'll let you be the judge of that!
Pad kee mao is similar to pad see ew, but there are a few key differences. The most notable difference is the addition of oyster sauce, which gives the dish a sweeter flavor. In addition, pad kee mao is typically cooked with more vegetables than Pad see ew.
If you order pad kee mao at a Thai restaurant, you can expect to find wide rice noodles that have been stir-fried with eggs and your choice of protein. The noodles will be coated in a dark soy sauce and served with a sweet and sour chili on the side.
No matter where the dish comes from, one thing is sure: pad kee mao is a delicious and popular Thai street food dish.
How are Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao similar?
These two dishes have a few similarities, but the most notable is that they are both stir-fried dishes made with wide rice noodles.
In addition, both dishes typically contain chicken, shrimp, or tofu as the protein. Both dishes are also stir-fried with eggs and served with a sweet and sour chili on the side.
Both recipes contain the flexibility to personalize according to your preferences. For example, add more or fewer vegetables, proteins, and sauces to suit your taste. You can choose wide, flat, or thin, round rice noodles. And you can make the dish as spicy or mild as you like.
In summary, Pad See Ew, and Pad Kee Mao share the following similarities:
- Each dish uses wide or thin, flat rice noodles.
- They are both stir-fried over a high fire.
- The ingredients in both dishes are soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and white pepper.
- Both dishes are seasoned with dark soy sauce and oyster sauce, giving them their distinctive dark hue.
- Sweet and sour chilies additionally accompany them.
- The egg is stir-fried with your choice of protein; beef, chicken, shrimp, or tofu are allowed.
So, what's the difference?
While Pad See Ew and pad kee mao have many similarities, there are also some key differences between these two dishes.
- Many consider Pad kee mao to be spicier than Pad see ew. The most notable difference is the addition of oyster sauce in pad kee mao, which gives the dish a sweeter flavor.
- In addition, pad kee mao is typically cooked with more vegetables than Pad see ew.
Pad See Ew vs Pad Kee Mao
There are endless noodle dishes to explore in Thailand, and two of the most popular are Pad see ew and Pad kee mao. Now that we've gone over what Pad see ew and pad kee mao are let's take a closer look at the key differences between these two popular Thai dishes.
1 The sauce:
The sauce makes all the difference in these two dishes. A combination of light and dark soy sauce flavors pad see ew, while pad kee mao combines dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. This gives pad kee mao a sweeter flavor than Pad see ew.
I mentioned that the difference between these two dishes is the sauce due to the absence of oyster sauce in Pad see ew. In pad kee mao, the sauce contributes to the sweeter taste, whereas in Pad see ew, the sauce contributes to the savory flavor.
In addition, the difference in the sauce also affects the color of the dish. Pad see ew has a light brown color, while pad kee mao has a dark brown color.
The sauce is not the only difference between these two dishes. Another key difference is the addition of oyster sauce in pad kee mao, which gives the dish a sweeter flavor.
What is pad see ew sauce made of?
Pad see ew is made with a mixture of the following ingredients:
Thin Soy sauce: This is a type of soy sauce that is less salty and has a watery consistency. You can find thin soy sauce at most Asian markets.
Dark soy sauce: give the dish a salty flavor making it perfect for those who like their food on the savory side. You should note that the dark soy sauce gives Pad see ew its signature dark color.
Brown sugar: is added to both dishes to balance out the saltiness and savory flavors of the soy sauce. Its sweetness also helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetables while making the dish more palatable for those not used to Thai food.
Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in many Thai dishes and gives Pad see ew its characteristic umami flavor. It may seem like an odd ingredient, but trust us, it works!
Rice vinegar: adds a touch of acidity to the dish and helps brighten the flavors. The vinegar helps balance out the sweetness of brown sugar.
What is pad kee mao sauce made of?
The sauce's ingredients are similar to those in Pad see ew, with the addition of oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is a thick, dark brown sauce made from oysters that have been cooked down and simmered in soy sauce and sugar. It adds a sweet umami flavor to the dish at the same time that it helps to thicken the sauce.
2 The vegetables:
Another difference between these two dishes is the vegetables that are used. Pad see ew is typically made with Chinese broccoli or Gai Lan, a type of Chinese broccoli, while pad kee mao contains a variety of vegetables, ranging from Thai basil to peppers.
Pad see ew is typically made with:
Chinese broccoli or Gai Lan: This leafy green vegetable is a common ingredient in Thai cooking. It is a leaf vegetable with thick stems and small florets similar to broccoli. It has a slightly bitter taste and a crunchy texture.
Pad kee mao usually contains:
Thai basil: This herb has a slightly sweet anise flavor and is a common ingredient in Thai cooking. It gives the dish a unique flavor you won't find in Pad see ew. Easier to find in any Asian market here in the US.
Bell peppers can be any color, but red and green bell peppers are the most common. The bell peppers are usually julienned or cut into thin strips, making them easy to eat. They add sweetness and crunch to the dish.
Mushrooms: These can be any mushroom, but oyster mushrooms are most common. Because they have a similar texture to seafood, making them a good stand-in for meat if you're cooking vegetarian or vegan pad kee mao.
Onions: These can be any type, but red onions are the most common. Pad see ew does not usually use onions but is often used in pad kee mao.
3 The Flavors:
The flavors of these two dishes are also quite different. Pad see ew is a savory dish with flavors that come from the soy sauce and fish sauce, while pad kee mao is a sweeter dish with flavors that come from the oyster sauce and sugar.
Pad see ew: This dish is savory with a slightly sweet taste from the brown sugar. The soy sauce and fish sauce give it a salty flavor, while the rice vinegar adds a touch of acidity.
Pad kee mao: This dish is sweeter than Pad see ew due to the addition of oyster sauce. It is saltier and has a more intense flavor. This is due to the addition of fish sauce and the use of basil. It also has a slight kick from the chili peppers, but overall it is less spicy than Pad see ew.
4 The noodles:
The noodles that are used in these two dishes are also different. Pad see ew is typically made with wide rice noodles, while pad kee mao uses thin rice noodles. The wide rice noodles are wider and have a chewy texture, while the thin rice noodles are thinner and have a delicate texture.
Pad see ew is typically made with:
Wide, flat rice noodles: These noodles are also known as "Sen Yai" ("Sen" means line or noodles, "Yai" means big) and are a common ingredient in Thai cooking. They are wide and flat, making them perfect for soaking up the sauce. They are also known as "ho fun" in Chinese.
"Glutinous rice" is a rice flour that produces these noodles. Glutinous rice is short-grain rice that is higher in starch than other types of rice. It is this starch that gives the noodles a chewy texture.
Pad kee mao is typically made with:
Thin, flat rice noodles: These noodles are also known as "sen lek" ("Sen" means line or noodles, "Lek" means small), the same rice noodles for Pad Thai. They are a common ingredient in Thai cooking. The thin rice noodles are made from the same glutinous rice flour as the wide, flat noodles. They are thin and delicate, making them perfect for absorbing the flavors of the sauce.
What is the difference between thin and wide rice noodles?
The main difference between these two types of noodles is their width. Pad see ew is made with wide rice noodles, while pad kee mao is made with thin rice noodles. The wide rice noodles are wider and have a chewy texture, while the thin rice noodles are thinner and have a delicate texture.
Another difference is that Pad see ew is typically made with Chinese broccoli or Gai Lan, while pad kee mao is made with a mix of vegetables, including anything from Thai basil to bell peppers.
5 The protein:
The protein that is used in these two dishes is also different. Pad see ew is typically made with chicken, shrimp, or beef, while pad kee mao is usually made with chicken, pork, or tofu.
Though it is established that seafood is not used in authentic Pad see ew, many recipes call for shrimp or other seafood. This is because Pad see ew is a popular dish for tourists, and many people unfamiliar with Thai cuisine are unaware of this fact.
Pad see ew is typically made with:
Chicken: Why use chicken in Pad see ew? Chicken is a popular choice for this dish as it is a lean protein that is easy to cook and has a mild flavor that allows the other ingredients to shine.
Shrimp: I like using shrimp in Pad see ew because they are a quick-cooking protein that adds a touch of sweetness to the dish. Besides, who doesn't love shrimp?
Beef: It's another popular choice for those who like their food on the heartier side. Beef also has a rich flavor that compliments the other ingredients in the dish.
Pad kee mao is typically made with:
Chicken: Chicken in Pad kee mao is used for the same reasons as in Pad see ew. It is a lean protein that is easy to cook and has a mild flavor.
Pork: Pork is a common ingredient in Thai cuisine and is often used in Pad kee mao. Pork has a rich flavor that compliments the other elements in the dish.
Tofu: Tofu is a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans, as it is a protein-rich ingredient with a mild flavor. Your pad kee mao will be just as delicious with tofu as it would be with chicken or pork.
What is the difference between chicken and shrimp?
The main difference between chicken and shrimp is their flavor. Chicken has a mild flavor that allows the other ingredients in the dish to shine, while shrimp have a sweetness that compliments the different flavors in the dish.
Another difference is that chicken is a lean protein, while shrimp are a high-protein ingredient. This means that shrimp will add more protein to the dish than chicken.
You can compare the two dishes in terms of appearance. As both are stir-fried, they will have a similar appearance. However, there are some subtle differences.
Pad see ew is typically made with wide rice noodles, whereas pad kee mao uses thin rice noodles. Wide rice noodles have a chewy texture, whereas thin rice noodles are thinner and have a delicate texture.
Another difference is that Pad see ew is typically made with Chinese broccoli or Gai Lan. In contrast, pad kee mao uses a mix of vegetables, including Thai basil and bell peppers.
Both dishes also use different kinds of protein. Pad see ew is typically made with chicken, shrimp, or beef, while pad kee mao is usually made with chicken, pork, or tofu.
The color of the noodles in Pad see ew will be darker than the noodles in pad kee mao because they are cooked in soy sauce. The noodles in pad kee mao will be slightly lighter since less soy sauce is used in the recipe.
Is Pad Kee Mao spicy?
Pad kee mao can be spicy, but it does not have to be. The level of spice is up to you. If you want your pad kee mao to be spicy, you can add more chili peppers. If you want it to be less spicy, you can remove some of the seeds from the chili peppers.
It draws its flavor from a variety of ingredients, including:
- Chili peppers: Chili peppers are what give pad kee mao its characteristic spice.
- Garlic: Garlic adds flavor to the dish.
- Ginger: Ginger adds a hint of sweetness as well as flavor.
- Light soy sauce: Soy sauce darkens the noodles and adds saltiness to the dish.
- Fish sauce: It adds saltiness and umami flavor.
- Brown sugar: It adds sweetness to the dish.
Pad see ew vs Pad kee mao: Which one is better?
Each of us has different preferences, so there is no definitive answer to this question. It depends on what you are looking for in a dish. Considering the difference in ingredients, flavor, and appearance, you will have to decide for yourself which is better.
If you want a hearty and filling dish, then Pad see ew might be the better choice. It may be better to choose pad kee mao if you want something light and refreshing.
However, if you're not into spices, then you might want to choose Pad see ew over pad kee mao. If you like your food with a kick, then pad kee mao is the way to go.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Try both dishes and see which one you like better!
Also, note that there are many different variations of these two dishes, so you might want to try a few before deciding which one is your favorite.
Take a step further in your research by learning about the different types of noodles used in these dishes. Then, try making them at home!