Thai Drunken Fish (Pad Kee Mao)

Thai Drunken Fish (Pad Kee Mao)

The Spruce / Lori Pedrick

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
307 Calories
15g Fat
16g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 307
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 1020mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 39mg 196%
Calcium 82mg 6%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 632mg 13%
*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 cloves garlic, 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, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon green peppercorns

  • 2 tablespoons sliced fingerroot

  • 6 makrut lime leaves

  • 1/2 cup sweet basil

  • Thai jasmine rice, for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Thai Drunken Fish (Pad Kee Mao) ingredients
    The Spruce / Lori Pedrick
  2. Heat a pan over medium to high heat. Add oil, garlic, and chile. Fry until garlic turns slightly yellow.

    Add oil, garlic, and chile in a pan
    The Spruce / Lori Pedrick
  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 with garlic mixture
    The Spruce / Lori Pedrick
  4. Season by adding soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.

    Season by adding soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar with fish
    The Spruce / Lori Pedrick
  5. Add the lemongrass, cherry tomatoes, green peppercorn, fingerroot, and makrut lime leaves. Stir in all of the aromatics until well combined.

     lemongrass, cherry tomatoes, green peppercorn, fingerroot, and makrut lime leaves with fish in pan
    The Spruce / Lori Pedrick
  6. Turn off the heat and add the sweet basil.

    Thai Drunken Fish (Pad Kee Mao) in a pan with basil
    The Spruce / Lori Pedrick
  7. Serve hot with Thai jasmine rice.

    Thai Drunken Fish (Pad Kee Mao) served with rice
    The Spruce / Lori Pedrick

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