Pad see ew, the classic Thai noodle dish, will be our fifth recipe for this month’s journey to the Land of Smiles.
Pad see ew, also spelled phat si-io, pad siew, or pad siu (Thai: ผัดซีอิ๊ว) is a Chinese-influenced stir fried rice noodle recipe that is very popular in Thailand. It may have Chinese origins but it is definitely prepared and executed the Thai way.
Pad see ew is prepared with broad flat rice noodles called kuaitiao sen yai (often abbreviated to just sen yai which can be translated to “big strip”). Other main ingredients include dark soy sauce (see ew dahm), light soy sauce (see ew kwaw), garlic, Chinese broccoli, egg, and always include thinly sliced meat, like pork, chicken or beef, but can also include shrimp or mixed seafood.
The particularity of this dish is to use both light and dark soy sauce. The light soy sauce (see ew dahm) provides saltiness to the noodles, while the dark sweet soy sauce (see ew dahm) brings the darker color and some sweetness to this perfectly balanced dish.
Light soy sauce, also sometimes referred to white soy sauce, is a basic soy sauce, but with a Thai twist. It has a mild salty flavour and is often used in soups to give a color that is not too dark.
There are two types of dark or black soy sauces:
Dark soy sauce (see ew dahm) and dark sweet soy sauce (see ew waan), which is a sweeter and thicker, and is often used in dipping sauces. The latter one is similar to Indonesian kecap manis, which we have already featured in gado gado and nasi goreng.
There is another soy sauce that is ubiquitous in Thailand. It is called seasoning sauce and the most famous brand is Golden Mountain. Often considered as the secret ingredient in Thai cooking, Vera actually used it for her chicken with holy basil dish that we featured earlier this week.
Now, let’s talk noodles!
In Thai, noodles are called guay tiew (ก๋วยเตี๋ยว). A number of noodles dishes will therefore start with those words, like guay tiew neua (noodles with beef) or guay tiew moo (noodles with pork) for example. The words come from the Chinese word guotiao (粿條/粿条), which means cooked rice strips.
Pad see ew is made with a particular type of noodles called sen yai. These are the same broad rice noodles that the Chinese call ho fun or shahe fen. These noodles are made with rice and tapioca flour. They are steamed then greased with oil to prevent sticking before they are stacked.
Those noodles are mostly sold fresh, and this is the version you should use to make your pad see ew. I found mine in a supermarket in Thai town in Los Angeles. This was my first time in this mecca of Thai products, and this will definitely not be the last!
But these are not the only noodles commonly used in Thai cuisine.
Sen lek (“small noodles”) are rice noodles that are about the size of linguini. These rice sticks are also called sen chan (short for Chantaboon) or guay tiew chantaburi. Sen chan noodles are more chewy than sen yai. They are the noodles of choice for pad Thai but also pho, the Vietnamese noodles soup.
Sen mee are the rice vermicelli. They are very thin rice noodles. These are also called mee hoon or beehoon in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, and are the ones I used in my fish head soup from Singapore.
Ba mee are egg wheat noodles. The eggs (and sometimes food coloring) give these noodles a yellow hue. In Thailand, they are used in traditional dishes like ba mee haeng.
Woon sen are glass noodles that are prepared with mung bean flour. They are used in dishes like yum woon sen, a bean thread noodles salad that is popular in Thailand.
Guay jub are rolled rice chips or rice flake sheets that roll together when you boil them. Those are mostly used in soups in Thailand.
Giam ee or lo see fun noodles, are also called rice pin noodles or silver needle noodles. They are short and thin, with pointed tips on both ends. Those noodles are very popular in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Mi sua, these are extremely thin and salted wheat noodles. They originated in Fujian, China and are mostly eaten in the Southern region of Thailand. They are prepared by pulling the dough and stretching it until the noodles come out very thin. Misua signifies long life in Chinese culture, and they are obviously the noodles we used to make longevity or long life noodles for our Chinese New Year feast while I was in Paris in January.
Khanom chin are thin fresh rice noodles. Those are prepared with rice that is sometimes fermented for three days, then boiled, and made into noodles by extruding the resulting dough through a sieve into boiling water. Thai people often eat these noodles with kaeng khiao wan (green curry), or with som tam (green papaya salad)..
Pad see ew is a dish that I have often eaten outside at Thai restaurants. However, this was the first time I made it, and also the first time I had it with beef. And what a treat! You can have it as is, but if you like it spicy, like me and most Thai people, do not hesitate to add a spoon (or two) of chili sauce, and the end result will be absolutely divine!
- ½ lb steak (flank or other cut) , thinly sliced
- 1 tsp Thai black or dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 lb fresh wide rice noodles (sen yai)
- 2 Tbsp Thai black or dark soy sauce
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tsp light soy sauce or regular soy sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 4 cloves garlic , thinly slided
- 1 lb Chinese broccoli (gai lan) , cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 eggs , beaten
- Chili sauce
- 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
- White pepper , to taste
- Take the rice noodles outside of the fridge at least 20 minutes before starting the recipe.
- In a shallow container, mix the steak, black soy sauce, vegetable oil, and cornstarch until the beef is completely coated. Cover and set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the black soy sauce, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce. Stir to mix well.
- Unstick the fresh noodles and drain them thoroughly. Place them in a bowl with a tablespoon of oil, so they do not stick to the wok or saucepan.
- Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke, and add 1 tablespoon of oil to evenly coat it. Sear the thin steak slices for about 5 minutes and transfer them back to the marinade container.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok and add the garlic, then the Chinese broccoli and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
- Next, add the noodles and spread them.
- At this point, add the sauce mixture on top of the noodles, add white pepper to taste and gently fold the noodles over with a spatula. Do not cook more than 1-2 minutes. Drizzle a little oil if the noodles stick to the bottom of the wok.
- Add the steak back to the wok, then push everything to one side.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the empty side of the wok, and add the beaten eggs. After 15 seconds, start scrambling the eggs then break them into smaller pieces. Delicately stir and mix everything.
- Continue cooking for another 1 minute, and serve immediately with chili sauce.