Pad See Ew (Thai Stir-Fried Soy Sauce Noodles)

published May 21, 2024
Pad See Ew Recipe (Thai Stir-Fried Soy Sauce Noodles)

This beloved Thai dish has it all: chewy rice noodles, tender chunks of chicken, and crunchy broccoli bound in a sweet-salty soy sauce.

Serves4

Prep45 minutes to 1 hour

Cook18 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Overhead photo of Pad See Ew on a white plate.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Pad see ew (ผัดซีอิ๊ว), pronounced pad (like the “pud” in puddle), see (like the letter “c”), ew (rhymes with new), is one of Thailand’s most popular dishes. Its allure lies in its deceptive simplicity: chewy rice noodles, velveted slivers of meat, and crunchy gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli), bound by a sweet-salty soy sauce and enhanced by the je ne sais quoi of wok char. 

Pad see ew is my quintessential comfort food. Smelling that distinctive aroma of charred soy sauce reminds me of holidays and sick days spent at home in my pajamas, freed from the confines of early morning routines and schoolwork. Eating pad see ew procured from up the soi (the alleyways that make up Bangkok’s very confusing infrastructure) straight from the Styrofoam package in front of the TV was, and continues to be, the essence of leisure. 

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s all about the noodles. Because procuring fresh sen yai noodles can be quite a challenge (even if you have access to Asian grocery stores), my recipe starts with making fresh homemade noodles. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think (easier arguably, than spending hours visiting every Asian store within a hundred mile radius to track down one pack of noodles). The resulting pillowy, bouncy noodles make a huge difference in the finished dish, and can even be used in related dishes like chow fun, char kway teow, rad na, and pad kee mao.  
  • You can totally use your nonstick pan to make this. While some prefer the more traditional steamer method when cooking the noodles and stir-frying the dish, I find the nonstick pan route to be easier to control, and less messy besides. With a little practice, you, too, can achieve pad see ew ascendancy at home. 

Key Ingredients in Pad See Ew

  • Noodles: Traditionally, the noodles used are fresh, flat, wide rice noodles called guay tiew sen yai (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเส้นใหญ่; literally, large noodles). They’re essentially the same as Chinese hor fun/shahe fen noodles. If you live in areas with lots of Chinese/Southeast Asian grocers, you might be able to find them in the freezer or refrigerated sections. If your store makes them fresh daily (you lucky duck), you might find them on the counter in the fresh foods/bakery section. If buying frozen or refrigerated, rinse them in hot water and drain well prior to using. Once rinsed, hold them at room temperature until ready to use. 
  • Broccoli: Typically, Chinese broccoli (gai lan) is used as the main vegetable in the dish. It provides a crunch factor that happily counterbalances the soft, slippery texture of the noodles. I use broccoli here because it is much easier to find in most American supermarkets. Feel free to substitute gai lan if you can find it.
  • Protein: I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs here, but feel free to substitute chicken breast, pork, beef, or meat alternatives as you wish. If using a meat alternative, skip the baking soda in the marinade. 
  • Dark soy sauce (ซีอิ๊วดำ): Commonly used to provide color and depth of flavor in many Chinese-Thai dishes. It is aged longer than light soy sauce (or the regular soy sauce commonly found in American grocery stores), and as a result is darker in color and more concentrated in flavor.
  • Light soy sauce (ซีอิ๊วขาว): Used here to provide saltiness and umami. You can use it interchangeably with standard all-purpose soy sauce. 
  • Oyster sauce (น้ำมันหอย): A salty-sweet sauce commonly used in stir-fries. Here, the oyster sauce rounds out the sharpness of the dark soy sauce and gives the noodles a glossy finish. 

If making fresh noodles:

  • Rice flour: Look for finely ground white rice flour (แป้งข้าวเจ้า), the type commonly sold in Asian grocery stores. Do not substitute glutinous rice flour (sometimes called sweet rice flour or mochiko).
  • Tapioca starch (แป้งมันสำปะหลัง): This is what gives the noodles added bounce. Tapioca starch can usually be found in the same section of your local Asian grocery store as the rice flour above.  
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

How to Make Pad See Ew

  1. Make the noodle batter (optional). Combine the rice flour, tapioca starch, and salt. Add cold water little by little, stirring to mix. Whisk in hot water and oil. Adding the water gradually while whisking here helps to work the starches, allowing for better hydration and resulting in more toothsome noodles.
  2. Steam, stack, cut the noodles (optional). Ladle the batter into an unscratched 12-inch nonstick pan and swirl to distribute. Cook, covered, about 2 minutes or until fully set. Invert the noodle sheet onto a plate and brush with oil. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Cut the noodle sheets into 1-inch strips (or desired size). Gently pull them apart. 
  3. Marinate the chicken. Cut boneless skinless chicken thighs into bite-size pieces. Marinate in light soy sauce, white pepper, baking soda, and cornstarch. This is a way to “velvet” the chicken, keeping the morsels tender and juicy even as it hits the wok’s high heat. 
  4. Blanch the broccoli and the chicken. In a pot of salted water, quickly blanch the broccoli florets, followed by the marinated chicken. Precooking in this way gives you better control of these ingredients’ textures. This step also allows you to easily scale up the recipe (you can blanch more portions of broccoli and chicken at once and set the extras aside). 
  5. Put it all together. In a very hot wok, stir-fry eggs, broccoli, chicken, noodles (homemade or store-bought), and seasonings in two batches. Dividing the ingredients up this way limits pan overcrowding, allowing for maximum char. Serve. 

Helpful Swaps

While fresh sen yai is preferable, other types of noodles can also be used. In a pinch, substitute dry wide rice noodles or rice flakes. Soak the noodles in warm water until soft or follow manufacturer’s instructions before using. 

What’s the Difference Between Pad Thai, Pad Kee Mao, and Pad See Ew?

In my mind, pad see ew makes up the (extremely real and definitely objective) holy trinity of Thai stir-fried noodles, alongside pad Thai and pad kee mao (aka drunken noodles). So what are these dishes, and how exactly do they differ?

  • Pad Thai (ผัดไทย) is typically made with thin rice noodles called sen chan (เส้นจันท์) after its place of origin, Chantaburi (จันทบุรี). Most versions of pad Thai include some combination of tofu, eggs, shrimp, preserved radish, garlic chives, and bean sprouts. A sauce consisting of tamarind, palm sugar, and fish sauce gives the dish its signature tangy, sweet flavor. 
  • Pad kee mao (ผัดขี้เมา) refers to a genre of stir-fried dishes characterized by their spicy, salty, umami flavors. Since “kee mao” is the Thai vernacular for the habitually inebriated, the dish is particularly popular with the late-night crowd. In Thailand, you may encounter pad kee mao made with any combination of vegetables and proteins, and served up with rice. Its signature flavor profile typically comes from garlic, chiles, green peppercorns, Thai basil, fingerroot, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. In recent years, the noodle-based subgenre of pad kee mao, often referred to as drunken noodles here in the U.S., has far eclipsed the original in popularity. Pad kee mao can be made with a variety of noodle styles, from fresh wide rice noodles (sen yai, เส้นใหญ่), to instant ramen, to yes, even spaghetti. 
  • Pad see ew (ผัดซีอิ๊ว) is comparatively the mildest, most subtle of the three. In Powerpuff Girls terms, she is the Bubbles to pad Thai’s Blossom and pad kee mao’s Buttercup. As the name suggests (ซีอิ๊ว see ew” derived from the Teochew 豉油 means soy sauce in Thai), the dish derives its signature color and flavor from one key ingredient: dark soy sauce. Pad see ew is most often made with fresh wide rice noodles (sen yai, เส้นใหญ่). Mild she may be, but in no way is she meek. 

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

  • The noodle batter can be made a day ahead of time and kept refrigerated in an airtight container. Re-whisk before cooking. 
  • Cooked noodles can be made a day ahead of time and kept refrigerated in an airtight container. Refresh by rinsing in hot water until pliable. Drain and hold the noodles at room temperature until ready to use. 

What to Serve With Pad See Ew

Pad see ew is considered an “aharn jarn diaw” (อาหารจานเดียว) or one-dish meal, and thus is often eaten by itself. Like most noodle dishes, it is often served with seasonings like sugar, fish sauce, red pepper flakes, and white vinegar (or vinegar with chiles called prik nam som) on the side for diners to adjust the dish to their own palates. 

Pad See Ew Recipe (Thai Stir-Fried Soy Sauce Noodles)

This beloved Thai dish has it all: chewy rice noodles, tender chunks of chicken, and crunchy broccoli bound in a sweet-salty soy sauce.

Prep time 45 minutes to 1 hour

Cook time 18 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the rice noodles (makes about 20 ounces; if using store-bought fresh noodles, use 16 ounces):

  • 1 cup

    rice flour

  • 1 cup

    tapioca starch

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    room temperature water

  • 1 cup

    boiling water

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil, divided

For the chicken:

  • 1 pound

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 2 teaspoons

    cornstarch

  • 2 tablespoons

    soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground white pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

For the broccoli:

  • 4 quarts

    water

  • 2 tablespoons

    kosher salt

  • 4 cups

    small broccoli florets (about 1 1/2 pounds)

For the stir-fry:

  • 2

    large eggs, divided

  • 16 ounces

    fresh wide rice noodles (recipe above or store bought)

  • 1/4 cup

    oyster sauce

  • 2 tablespoons

    dark soy sauce

  • 4 teaspoons

    granulated sugar

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 4 tablespoons

    vegetable oil, divided

Serving options:

  • Red pepper flakes

  • Distilled white vinegar with fresh chiles

  • Fish sauce

  • Granulated sugar

Instructions

Make the rice noodles (skip if you are using store bought):

  1. Place 1 cup rice flour, 1 cup tapioca starch, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. While whisking constantly, slowly and gradually add 1 cup room temperature water. The mixture will clump up at first, but will begin to come together as it absorbs water. Slowly adding in the water at this stage allows the starches to hydrate fully, yielding a bouncier, more toothsome noodle, so don’t rush. Whisk until smooth.

  2. While whisking constantly, gradually add in 1 cup boiling water, followed by 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. The batter will be smooth and quite runny.

  3. Prepare for cooking: Fill a small bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Have a pastry brush, large dinner plate or baking sheet, flexible heatproof spatula, 1/2 cup dry measuring cup or scoop, timer, and clean, dry kitchen towel ready.

  4. Heat a 12-inch nonstick frying pan over low heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, brush a large plate or baking sheet with some vegetable oil.

  5. Add 1/2 cup of batter to the pan. Immediately cover the pan and swirl the batter around to create a thin, even sheet. Cook until set and translucent, and the underside of the noodle sheet is not tacky to the touch, about 2 minutes.

  6. Remove the pan from heat. Run the spatula around the edge of the noodle sheet to loosen. In one motion, flip the pan over the oiled plate or baking sheet. Resist the urge to gently slide the noodle out of the pan here - be bold and tip the whole sheet out all at once.

  7. Brush the noodle sheet with a little bit more oil. If the sheet is wrinkled or folded, let it cool a little before making adjustments (the noodle is much more pliable once it’s set and cooled).

  8. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Repeat cooking the remaining batter, brushing the pan with oil before each sheet and upending each sheet on top of the one before. It’s ok if the first couple of sheets don’t work out - you should still end up with plenty of noodles!

  9. Transfer the noodle stack to a cutting board, neatly re-stacking the sheets and applying more oil in between each layer as needed. With an oiled knife, cut the noodles into 1-inch wide strips. Pull the noodles apart and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

Marinate the chicken:

  1. Cut 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch chunks and place in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Stir until the chicken is evenly coated. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.

Prepare the remaining ingredients:

  1. Bring 4 quarts water and 2 tablespoons kosher salt to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, crack 2 large eggs into a small bowl. Weigh out 16 ounces of the noodles and place in a large bowl (reserve any extra for another use). Add 1/4 cup oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, and 4 teaspoons granulated sugar, and toss until evenly coated and the noodles are separated. Coarsely chop 4 garlic cloves and add to the bowl of noodles. Toss again to combine.

  2. Add 4 cups broccoli florets into the boiling water and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon to a bowl or plate. Return the water to a boil and add the marinated chicken, stirring lightly to prevent clumping. Boil the chicken until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a second bowl or plate.

Stir-fry in 2 batches:

  1. Cook the pad-see ew in 2 batches: Heat a well-seasoned wok or 12-inch nonstick frying pan up over low heat for a few minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and increase the heat to medium high. Once the oil is smoking, add the 2 cracked eggs to the center of the pan. Scramble with a flat spatula and cook until almost dry, about 1 minute. Push the eggs aside.

  2. Add half of the broccoli and half of the chicken to the wok. Cook, tossing occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Push the mixture aside. Add half of the noodles to the now-empty space and toss until the noodles are an even brown and start to char in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.

  3. Wipe out the pan. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the pan. When the oil is smoking, repeat stir frying the remaining eggs, chicken, broccoli, and noodles. Serve with red pepper flakes, fish sauce, granulated sugar, and white vinegar (or white vinegar with chiles) on the side if desired.

Recipe Notes

Noodles: 16 ounces store-bought fresh flat rice noodles can be used in place of the homemade noodles. If the noodles have been refrigerated, rinse under hot water to soften and separate. Shake dry and let sit at room temperature before using.

Make ahead: The noodles can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container. Rinse under hot water to soften and separate. Shake dry and let sit at room temperature before using.

The broccoli and marinated chicken can be blanched and poached up to 2 days ahead. More than two portions of broccoli and chicken can be pre-cooked and set aside. However, in order to limit wok overcrowding and maximize the charred flavor of your dish, stir-fry your noodles in batches of no more than 2 servings at a time.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 days. Sprinkle with a little water and cover loosely before microwaving to reheat.