Thai Drunken Fish (Pad Kee Mao)

Thai drunken fish

The Spruce / Cat Lau

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
281 Calories
15g Fat
9g Carbs
28g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 281
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 1016mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 28g
Vitamin C 7mg 36%
Calcium 66mg 5%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 489mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The name of this dish comes from the Thai word "pad kee mao", which means drunken stir fry. This dish is known for its heat and spicy flavors that come from fresh chilis, green peppercorns, and fingerroot. In Thailand, spicy food is usually enjoyed with a nice cold beer, so you can imagine that it could take a few beers to calm down the heat of this dish. Pad kee mao is also a popular dish after a night out in Thailand, as most street food stalls offer this on their menus in the late hours. So whether pad kee mao is responsible for getting you drunk, or that you crave it when you are drunk, we think you're going to like this dish.

In Thailand, drunken fish is usually made with catfish, which has quite a strong smell, so the fresh fish meat is rinsed with salt and tamarind juice. You can use any white fish in this recipe, and we have also found that salmon works very well.

You might have seen drunken noodles on the menu in Thai restaurants, and you can bet that the key ingredients stay the same: lemongrass, green peppercorn, fingerroot, makrut lime leaves, and basil. Feel free to add flat rice noodles to this recipe as well for an easy one-pot dish.


  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 3 red chiles, sliced

  • 1/2 pound cod fillet, sliced

  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon minced lemongrass

  • 6 cherry tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon green peppercorn

  • 2 tablespoons sliced fingerroot

  • 6 makrut lime leaves

  • 1/2 cup sweet basil

  • Optional:

    Thai jasmine rice, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Thai drunken fish ingredients

    The Spruce / Cat Lau

  2. Heat a pan over medium to high heat. Add oil, garlic, and chile. Fry until garlic turns slightly yellow.

    chili and garlic

    The Spruce / Cat Lau

  3. Add the slices of fish and cook for 3 minutes. Make sure to not overcrowd the pan and let the fish cook without moving it around. This will keep the fish pieces intact.

    fish in drunken fish

    The Spruce / Cat Lau

  4. Season by adding soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.

    seasoned fish with soy sauce

    The Spruce / Cat Lau

  5. Add the lemongrass, cherry tomatoes, green peppercorn, fingerroot, and makrut lime leaves. Stir in all of the aromatics until well combined.

    aromatics in drunken fish

    The Spruce / Cat Lau

  6. Turn off the heat and add the sweet basil.

  7. Serve hot with Thai jasmine rice.

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