In Thailand pad mama is a stir fried noodle dish that elevates an unassuming packet of instant noodles to new heights. While you might normally associate instant noodles with a soup base, Thai street vendors have taken this quick treat a step further by frying them up with fresh vegetables and other simple seasonings.
Usually full of animal products when sold by such hawkers, pad mama is easily made vegan with limited time and ingredients. While I’ve provided set instructions for how to make this dish, a packet of instant noodles plus some basic cupboard staples and the bits of veg you’d never serve guests but feel too guilty to toss are really all you need to throw this vegan pad mama recipe together.
Mama brand noodles are synonymous with instant noodles in Thailand due to market dominance genericising the brand name. Hence Mama is a proprietary eponym to indicate any brand of instant ramen. Pad mama (ผัดมาม่า), where pad means “stir-fried” and mama refers to the noodles, translates to “stir fried instant noodles.”
Many argue that pad kee mao (or “drunkard’s noodles”) are Thailand’s fodder for the inebriated, but pad mama is a formidable rival. Little brings the same degree of comfort and palate satisfaction after some drunken revelry than a heaped plate of cheap instant noodles with their accompany msg-laden umami bomb flavour packets.
Vegan Mama noodles are difficult to source in the UK, but I’ve tried this recipe with many different brands of instant noodles and all have produced great results. The only caveat is the noodles you choose must be the wavy dried wheat noodle variety.
Cabbage is a typical vegetable employed in this stir fry, but there’s a lot of wiggle room with ingredients. The vegetables you choose should be crunchy to contrast with the soft, chewy noodles. If you use softer, faster cooking greens, cook them for less time.
You can also make this vegan pad mama recipe tom yum style by serving it with some granulated white sugar, roasted ground peanuts, roasted chili powder, and fresh lime juice.
Vegan Pad Mama (ผัดมาม่าวีแกน)
Throw this easy vegan Thai noodle recipe together after a drunken night of revelry. If you are using Mama brand noodles, omit the garlic oil and use the packet of oil included instead.
- 1 packet instant noodles
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic oil
- Toasted chili powder (to taste)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- Handful of onion wedges
- 1 cup loosely packed cut hard vegetables (e.g. cabbage or carrot)
- 1 teaspoons seasoning sauce
- 1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
- 1 spring onion, cut into 1-inch lengths
- Small handful chopped fresh coriander
- Lime wedges
- Ground white pepper
- Unpackage the noodles and tip the seasoning packet(s) into a medium sized bowl along with the sugar, garlic oil, and chili powder.
- Boil the instant noodles for just under a minute, so they are slightly undercooked. Drain and rinse with cold water. Tip the noodles into the seasoning mix and toss to coat evenly.
- Heat a wok to high heat and add the vegetable oil and minced garlic. Fry until the garlic starts to turn golden. Add the onion and other vegetables. Stir fry for about 30 seconds before adding the seasoning and soy sauces. Stir fry for another 30 seconds. Turn the heat off and stir through the spring onion and coriander.
- Add the noodles and continue to stir fry for another half a minute. Scoop the noodles onto a plate and garnish with fresh lime and white pepper.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Serves: 1
- Cuisine: Thai