What are Drunken Noodles?
It’s not what it sounds like… the noodles are not drunk! In reality, there’s no alcohol used at all in making drunken noodles, but there are several theories on where the catchy name for this popular Thai dish came from. It all stems from the fact that drunken noodles are spicy. Some think that the spiciness of the noodles is so intense that it makes you feel drunk. Perhaps. Others feel that spicy food goes best with a cold beer. Agreed, but will one beer make you drunk? Well, maybe.
As you may or may not know, one beer often leads to another, especially when you’re trying to cool a burning sensation in your mouth. l believe that the spice level in drunken noodles is so hot that it causes you to drink way too many beers and then you are… drunk. Where’s the logic in that? Well, if you’re eating spicy food, beer is actually not going to help! Spiciness is usually quelled with bread or milk or something that will take the heat away. Beer will just spread that heat around your mouth. So, eat spicy food, drink beer, eat more spicy food, drink more beer… and so on, until… drunk. You see the logic?
Having said all of that… here’s the good thing about making drunken noodles at home. You get to manage the level of spiciness in the meal because you can choose which chili pepper and how much of it to add. I still think you can drink beer with drunken noodles, but maybe you won’t feel the need to drink so many!
Special Ingredients in Drunken Noodles
There are a few special Asian ingredients in drunken noodles, but the nice thing is that almost all of them can be replaced with easier to find ingredients. The one ingredient that you will need is the broadest rice noodle you can find. Pad Thai noodles are a little thin for drunken noodles, but will do in a pinch.
You will also need some hot chili peppers. The peppers in the photo above are bird’s eye peppers. These peppers get hotter and turn red as they mature, but there’s plenty of spice in the immature green peppers too. You can pick whichever pepper you like for this recipe, according to your taste, and add as much or as little of it as you like too. A Jalapeño pepper or Serano pepper will be fine and milder than the bird’s eye.
There are keffir lime leaves in the photo above as well. I happened to see them when shopping so grabbed them and threw them into the mix. If you can’t find keffir lime leaves, just substitute with some fresh lime juice. If you do find keffir lime leaves, don’t eat them but bite into one for fun and enjoy that limey experience!