Pad See Ew is a widely popular street food dish in Thailand. Soft and chewy, wide rice noodles stir fried in a sweet and savory sauce. Prep the ingredients ahead of time and you can have dinner ready in less than 10 minutes!
Pad See Ew translates directly to “fried with soy sauce." The signature wide rice noodles (also referred to as flat rice noodles) are traditionally stir-fried with Chinese broccoli (gai lan or kailan), eggs and your choice of protein such as beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or tofu. All doused with a sweet and savory soy sauce-based sauce.
My kids love this Beef Pad See Ew recipe. As a parent, I love that I can slide in a serving of leafy greens to their meal without much resistance. Once all the ingredients have been coated with the delicious sauce, my girls don't even realize they're eating healthy veggies.
Pad See Ew vs Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)
Pad See Ew and Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles) may seem quite similar on the surface. They both use the same flat rice noodles and similar protein and vegetables. The main difference is that Pad Kee Mao includes chilis and Thai basil. The combination of these two ingredients gives this dish a much bolder flavor. Drunken Noodles also includes other vegetables besides Chinese broccoli, such as baby corn, carrots, and bell pepper. Overall, the flavor profile isn't as sweet as Pad See Ew, but it maintains a good balance of sweet and savory with a bit or a lot of heat. Despite its name, Drunken Noodles does not include alcohol.
Pad See Ew vs Pad Thai
These two dishes are arguably the most popular Thai noodle dishes, though they are very different. Pad See Ew uses wide rice noodles, a sweet and savory soy sauce-based sauce and a healthy portion of vegetables. Pad Thai uses thin rice noodles like the ones used in Vietnamese pho. The rice noodles are cooked al dente to maintain a toothsome and bouncy quality. It's flavored with an intensely flavorful sweet and tangy tamarind sauce. Pad Thai isn't stir fried with vegetables like Pad See Ew is but rather tossed with a handful of fresh bean sprouts and crushed peanuts after the noodles are cooked. It's then finished off with a squeeze of lime to brighten it up.
Beef Pad See Ew Ingredients
Wide (or flat) rice noodles: To make authentic Beef Pad See Ew, you will need fresh wide-cut rice noodles like the ones used in Cantonese Chow Fun. They can be found in most Asian grocery stores (mostly Chinese or Vietnamese). They're made fresh daily and are usually displayed on a shelf close to the produce section. Some brands are better than others. I like to find thinner noodles that have some chewiness to it rather than ones that are thick and soft.
The flat rice noodles come in sheets layered on top of each other. They often come pre-cut, ready to be cooked. However, I like to find full sheets of rice noodles that allow me to cut them to any width the recipe calls for. I like my rice noodles to be a lot wider for Pad See Ew. In this recipe, I sliced the entire stack into 1.5" wide strips and separated the layers before cooking.
It's difficult to separate the noodles once it's in the wok so it's best to do it beforehand. If your wide rice noodles have been refrigerated, they'll be stiff and brittle. Pop them in the microwave for 30-60 seconds. They'll become soft and pliable again and will be easier to separate into individual noodles.
If you can't find fresh flat rice noodles, you can substitute it with dried rice noodles and precook the noodles according to the package. However, I highly, highly recommend seeking out fresh ones if possible.
Protein: Eggs are traditionally used in Pad See Ew recipes so definitely don't leave them out. Along with eggs, there's typically another protein. In this recipe, I used beef but you can use just about any type of protein you like. Chicken, pork, shrimp and tofu are other popular options.
When I'm using beef, I prefer thinly sliced ribeye for its flavor and tenderness. However, any cut of beef will work. If you opt to use a cut that's not as tender as ribeye, massage a teaspoon of cornstarch into the beef before cooking. This is a process called "velveting" and it's how Chinese restaurants create luscious, melt-in-your-mouth meat in stir fry.
Vegetables: Chinese Broccoli (gai lan or kailan) and carrots are the most traditional vegetables used in Pad See Ew recipes. If you can't find gai lan, you can substitute it with broccolini or lightly blanched broccoli.
Pad See Ew Sauce: Oyster sauce, light and dark soy sauces and fish sauce make this Thai noodle dish more than just "fried with soy sauce." Don't let the name fool you. There's loads of savory and umami flavors.
How to Make Pad See Ew
Making Beef Pad See Ew in a home kitchen isn't difficult, but there are a couple of things that I do differently than restaurants do. Restaurants have huge woks (and huge burners) that allow chefs to cook everything together without the wok cooling down as they add ingredient after ingredient. Since I don’t have that luxury, I cook the proteins first, remove them from the wok, then add them in later when we bring the dish together.
Another tip is to cook only one portion at a time. This will prevent overcrowding the wok and cooling it down. If we overcrowd the wok, it'll result in a mushy Pad See Ew.
1) First, stir fry the beef in a smoking hot wok until it's mostly cooked. Remove and set aside.
2) Lightly beat the eggs and fry until fully cooked. Break apart into small pieces, remove and set aside.
3) Stir fry the vegetables until the leaves of the gai lan begins to soften and wilt.
4) Add flat rice noodles, Pad See Ew sauce, the beef and eggs. Toss well until the noodles are evenly coated in sauce.
- ½ lb fresh wide (or flat) rice noodles, separated into individual noodles
- ¼ lb beef, thinly sliced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4-5 stalks of Chinese broccoli (gai lan or kailan), cut into 2" lengths
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced on a bias
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Combine all the SAUCE ingredients in a bowl and mix well until the brown sugar is completely dissolved.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. When it starts to smoke, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the beef in a single layer and allow it to lightly brown. Flip and brown the other side. Remove and set aside.
- Add the beaten eggs and lightly fry until cooked. Use the spatula to cut it into small pieces. Remove and set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok or skillet. Add garlic and fry until it begins to change color. Be careful not to burn it.
- Add Chinese broccoli and carrots and stir fry until the gai lan leaves begin to soften and wilt.
- Add rice noodles and pour the sauce over the top. Add the previously cooked beef and eggs. Give it a good toss until the noodles are evenly coated in sauce. Serve immediately.