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Pad See Ew With Beef: Thai Street Food at Home

Pad See Ew With Beef: Thai Street Food at Home


Thai street food is an entire culture of its own. Every street market in Thailand holds hidden gems of noodles and curries, and other handheld pockets of deliciousness. We wish we were there right now, with enough hands to carry all the options.


Not all of these recipes are easy to make in your kitchen, but pad see ew sure is!


So what exactly is pad see ew? It is a noodle dish packed with flavor and textures and so satisfying. Today, we will give you the lowdown on this popular street food and how you can get all these flavors together on the table in time for dinner.  

 

What Is Pad See Ew?

Let’s start at the beginning: what is it? Pad see ew is a noodle dish packed to the brim with salty umami flavors and a hint of tang at the finish. 


To get all the right flavors to come to the party, you have to get the sauce right. You need the perfect balance between dark and light soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar for pad see ew. 


But that’s just the beginning. You need the right noodles, quality proteins, and flavorful toppings. And we hope you’ve been sharpening up those chopstick skills. Let’s get started!

 

How Does Pad See Ew Differ From Pad Thai?

Pad thai utilizes more nutty and sweet flavors from tamarind and brown sugar. Pad see ew translates to “stir-fried soy sauce noodles,” so you should expect those salty flavors to take the lead.

 

What Ingredients Do I Need for Pad See Ew?

Another major difference is the egg addition to pad see ew. Toppings and additions to the noodles may differ slightly as well. 


Here’s everything you’ll need for the ultimate pad see ew experience right at home. 

 

Flat Rice Noodles

This is an essential ingredient, along with the sauce. Traditional pad see ew is made from fresh rice noodles called sen yai. If you have trouble finding san yai, you can use thin, flat rice noodles as a great alternative.

 

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is part of the sauce base that should be in your pantry at all times. As a staple pantry item, oyster sauce brings in the ultimate umami richness and can be worked into almost any sauce.


Try mushroom sauce if you are vegetarian or allergic to seafood and cannot utilize oyster sauce. It is as rich and hearty as oyster sauce and full of umami goodness. 

 

Light and Dark Soy Sauce

Light and dark soy sauce are two similar products with different flavor profiles. Light soy sauce is saltier but milder. Dark soy sauce is more robust but with a sweeter undertone. Creating a balance between the two is essential to mastering this dish. 

 

White Vinegar

Vinegar provides the tang that balances out sauces' salty and sweet flavors. This instance also cuts through the richness of the oyster sauce and meat. White vinegar will impart the least amount of flavor, so use this instead of other varieties, like apple cider vinegar.

 

Sugar

As with many Asian dishes, sugar helps balance out the salty flavors of the duo of soy sauces. The sugar will also help when sauteeing the noodles in the sauce. It will provide enough residual texture to caramelize the noodles before serving. 


Some recipes call for brown sugar, but you’ll want to use traditional granulated sugar for pad see ew. The sugar works to balance the salts and intensity levels of the other ingredients. It is not meant to make the dish sweet compared to how brown sugar alters the flavor enough that it won’t taste as authentic. 

 

Water

A pot of water is used to boil the noodles beforehand, then you’ll add a bit of water to the wok or skillet. This will steam everything and thin out the sauce slightly. Keep in mind that it will burn off, so don’t worry that you’ll end up with soup. 

 

Garlic

Garlic helps amplify umami flavors in dishes and adds a savory sweetness that you can’t get from many ingredients. Caramelized garlic in dishes also provides a fragrant, crunchy texture and bright quality that is hard to mimic. 

 

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is needed for cooking beef ahead of time. You’ll want to do this in the pan you intend to make the sauce in, so be sure there is enough room. After cooking the meats, the residual fats left in the vegetable oil will be the perfect base for the pad see ew sauce. 


Be sure to thoroughly cook the meat and transfer it to a resting area. At this point, you can start to build your sauce in the same pan. Do not strain or drain the sauce. Leave all those flavors in the pan to get to know the sauces before later adding the meat. 

 

Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the additions that differs pad see ew from pad thai. Chinese broccoli, also known as gai lan or kai lan, has the same texture as other broccoli varieties. However, it has a more pronounced leafy quality.


Broccoli can also be one of the more challenging items to source. If you’re having trouble, try using a combination of other ingredients. Standard broccoli and spinach would make a great duet. 

 

Egg

Adding eggs is what makes pad see ew different from pad thai. It provides a hearty quality that would be missing without it. You want to scramble the egg and slowly add it towards the end of the cooking process so it doesn’t overcook. The egg will inevitably burn and become rubbery if you try to cook it too early.


Can you use an egg alternative? Absolutely! Egg alternatives are firm enough to stand up to the cooking process. We recommend, however, trying out the recipe a few times to see when it’s best to throw them in. 

 

Protein of Choice

We recommend thinly sliced and cubed beef, but if you prefer something else, that’s okay, too. Beef will intensify the umami richness of the dish, but we understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You can always use pork, chicken, or shrimp to substitute the beef.


If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can amp up the vegetables in the dish or sub in tofu for meat. You can also add mushrooms for another layer of heartiness that may be missing from alternative protein options.  

 

Can I Make Pad See Ew Vegetarian?

There are plenty of ways to make this dish vegetarian if you prefer. For instance, tofu is an excellent substitute for meat in many Asian cuisines. 


The important thing to note is the flavor profiles created when you use meat. Add sauces or spices to keep the dish as hearty or as salty as intended to achieve the desired texture and flavor.

 

The Bottom Line

Ready to make pad see ew at home? We know you have all the information, but what about your ingredients? We’ve got you covered. Check out Umamicart for all your favorite ingredients!



Sources: 

Recipe: Pad See Ew (Sweet And Savory Noodles) | NPR

How to make noodles: the art and science of manipulating gluten | New Scientist Caramelized-Scallion Noodles Recipe | NYT Cooking 

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