The Drunken Noodles That Are Perfect For A Late-Night Meal

When you see the decidedly lengthy ingredient list required to make a proper dish of drunken noodles, you may well be intimidated. But don't be! Chef and food writer Stephanie Rapone of Pantry to Plate says: "This is a really easy meal to make at home that's even better than takeout and healthier too." And while you'll want to stick close to the recipe on the sauces, you can make it your own in myriad ways. "You can definitely add more veggies, like chopped broccoli with the carrots, for example," says Rapone, who adds: "And I've also seen versions with the protein bumped up by adding scrambled egg — just scramble first and set aside, then add back in to heat through at the very end."

So you can do it! And you surely should. And now to address the question you surely have: Why is the dish called drunken noodles, anyway? 

The answer is that no one knows for sure. Some people point to the wine used in most drunken noodles recipes, but all of the alcohol cooks off. Others say that many takes on the drunken noodle dish are so spicy you'd need to be tipsy to partake. Suffice it to say that while we can't for sure say why we call it what we do, this Thai dish is a superb meal.

Gather your ingredients for these drunken noodles

Hold onto your hat, because yes, there are a lot of ingredients for this drunken noodles recipe. However, note that Rapone says: "The ingredients last a long time in the pantry, freezer, and fridge, so I'll usually plan this on like day nine or ten if I'm trying to go extra long between grocery visits (which I think a lot of us are doing due to COVID or weather nowadays)." So stock up accordingly and you could make this meal a weekly staple without lots of extra grocery shopping.

You'll need boneless, skinless chicken thighs, soy sauce, dry sherry, cornstarch, wide rice noodles (think a quarter-inch wide, ideally), oyster sauce, water, brown sugar, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce, vegetable or canola oil, matchstick carrots, green onions, thinly sliced Napa cabbage, ginger paste (either fresh grated or from a jar), garlic paste, and finally chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges for garnish.

Soak the noodles, then start veggie prep for your drunken noodles

Place the rice noodles in a large dish (Rapone suggests a 9x-13-inch baking dish), and then add hot tap water over the noodles until submerged. Set them aside to soak while you do the rest of the prep, which should next turn to vegetables. Remove the outer leaves from the Napa cabbage and discard them, then thinly slice about three cups of the cabbage. Rinse and drain the sliced cabbage, and then spread it out on a fresh dish towel to dry.

Wash and thinly slice the green onions, keeping the greens and whites separated. Next, peel the ginger and grate it with a rasp or micrograter. Into the same bowl, grate garlic (or place the pre-made pastes), and set the bowl aside.

And while you're at it, rinse and chop the cilantro and cut the lime into wedges for garnish.

Prep the chicken and sauce, then cook your drunken noodles

Trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs and cut it into one-and-a-half-inch pieces. Now, combine two tablespoons of soy sauce, the dry sherry, and the cornstarch in a bowl and mix them with a fork. Add the chicken to the mixture, toss it to coat, and then set it aside.

Next, combine the remaining three tablespoons of soy sauce, the oyster sauce, four tablespoons of water, brown sugar, fish sauce, and the chili-garlic sauce, mix everything well with a fork, and set it aside.

Now, let's heat things up with this drunken noodles recipe! Add the oil to a large high-sided skillet, wok, or braising pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and allow the oil it to get hot, almost to smoking. When the pan is ready, add the chicken (using tongs to lift it out of the marinade — do not dump in the marinade) in an even layer. Add the whites of the green onions and the carrots on top of the chicken and allow the meat to brown (about two minutes), then flip it and brown it on the other side.

Add the rest of the ingredients to your drunken noodles

Reduce heat to medium and push the chicken, carrots, and onion to the side of the pan. Now add the ginger and garlic paste and stir everything to combine and cook for one minute. Then, add the cabbage and cook, stirring your drunken noodles for another minute.

The noodles should be pliable by now. Using tongs, pull the noodles from the water and add to the pan with the chicken, cabbage, carrots, and everything else. Finally, add the sauce and use tongs or a wooden spoon to carefully combine everything (you don't want to break the noodles up too much).

Simmer, top, then serve your drunken noodles

Cover the pan, and let your drunken noodles simmer for five to eight minutes, stirring every two minutes or so to prevent the bottom from scorching. Keep the dish cooking until the sauce thickens slightly and the noodles are cooked through and soft.

Now you can plate your individual servings and garnish each with the greens from the onions, cilantro, and lime wedge. And top servings with a little extra chili-garlic sauce if you like it spicy, but it's your call on making it so spicy you need a strong drink before dining.

The Drunken Noodles That Are Perfect For A Late-Night Meal
5 from 40 ratings
This drunken noodles recipe is a really easy meal to make at home that's even better than takeout and healthier too. Try it out for yourself!
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
4
servings
drunken noodles being served
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1-¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 8 ounces wide rice noodles (about ¼" wide)
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1-½ teaspoons chili-garlic sauce, plus more for topping (if desired)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste (either fresh grated or from a jar)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste, approximately 3 large garlic cloves (either fresh grated or from a jar)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
Directions
  1. Place the rice noodles in a large dish (a 9x13-inch baking dish works well), and add hot tap water over the noodles until submerged. Set aside to soak while you do the rest of the prep.
  2. Remove the outer leaves from the Napa cabbage and discard. Thinly slice about 3 cups of cabbage, then rinse and drain the sliced cabbage. Spread out on a fresh dish towel to dry.
  3. Wash and thinly slice green onions, keeping the greens and whites separated.
  4. Peel the ginger and grate with a rasp or micrograter. Into the same bowl, grate garlic and set aside (or combine pastes if using ready-made).
  5. Rinse and chop the cilantro, and cut the lime into wedges for garnish, then set aside.
  6. Trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs and cut into 1-½-inch pieces, then combine 2 tablespoons soy sauce, dry sherry, and cornstarch in a bowl or small casserole dish with a fork. Add the chicken to the mixture, toss, and set aside.
  7. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, oyster sauce, 4 tablespoons water, brown sugar, fish sauce, and chili-garlic sauce, and mix well with a fork. Set aside.
  8. Add the oil to a large high-sided skillet, wok, or braising pan. Turn the heat to medium high and allow it to get hot (almost smoking), then add chicken using tongs (do not dump in the marinade) in an even layer.
  9. Add the whites of the green onions and carrots on top of the chicken and allow to brown (about 2 minutes), then flip and brown meat on the other side.
  10. Reduce heat to medium and push the chicken, carrots, and onion to the side. Add the ginger and garlic paste and stir everything to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, for another minute.
  11. The noodles should be pliable by now. Using tongs, pull the noodles from the water and add to the pan with the chicken, then add the sauce and carefully combine everything (you don't want to break the noodles up too much), then cover the pan.
  12. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes so the bottom doesn't scorch, until the sauce thickens slightly and the noodles are cooked through.
  13. Garnish with the greens from the onions, cilantro, and lime wedge. Top with a little extra chili-garlic sauce for added spice if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 493
Total Fat 8.9 g
Saturated Fat 1.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 133.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 65.0 g
Dietary Fiber 3.7 g
Total Sugars 9.8 g
Sodium 2,121.8 mg
Protein 35.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe