Pad Woon Sen is a Thai glass noodle stir fry that is quick and easy to make at home in under 40 minutes!
This Thai Pad Woon Sen recipe belongs in your Asian repertoire because it’s downright delicious, easy, customizable, and can be on your table quicker than driving to your favorite restaurant! This recipe is a soft tangle of chewy glass noodles, chicken (or sub your favorite protein), and veggies, enveloped in a savory, slightly-sweet stir fry sauce. Today, I’m going to teach you how to make these Thai noodles at home with step-by-step photos, tips and tricks and a pantry friendly sauce. Serve your Pad Woon Sen with Tom Kha Gai to complete the feast!
How to Make Pad Woon Sen Video
This Pad Woon Sen recipe is made with pantry friendly ingredients if you do much Asian cooking, otherwise, you can find the ingredients at your grocery store. The glass noodles are the only exception, which can be found at an Asian market or Amazon. Here’s what you’ll need to make these Thai noodles (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
For the Chicken:
For the Stir-Fry:
For the Pad Woon Sen Sauce:
HOW TO MAKE Pad WooN Sen
Thai Pad Woon Sen is a straightforward glass noodle stir-fry that anyone can make. The sauce is a simple whisk-together recipe, and the chicken and veggies are cooked in mere minutes in a hot wok or skillet. Let’s review the basics of how this recipe is made (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
WHAT to serve with thai Pad Woon Sen
Thai Pad Woon Sen is a meal-in-one complete with protein, veggies, and starch -you really don’t need any sides! Still, we love serving it with spring rolls for a complete Asian feast. It is also tasty with:
Pad Woon Sen FAQS
A wok is ideal to make this Thai Pad Woon Sen recipe because it can safely reach high temperatures to sear the ingredients without ruining the pan. If you don’t have a wok, you will want to use a large nonstick skillet, NOT stainless-steel or cast iron like commonly use in stir fries. The noodles are extremely sticky and will stick and break against any other pan that’s not nonstick unless you use an exorbitant amount of oil (which I don’t recommend!). Instead, a nonstick skillet can still deliver a successful, charred, caramelized stir fry by stirring the ingredients less and letting them nicely brown.
Thai Pad Woon Sen Noodles is an Asian “fusion food” favorite. It combines the technique of stir-frying noodles borrowed from Chinese immigrants with the taste of Thailand.
Thai noodles dishes such as Pad Woon Sen, Pad Kee Mao, Pad Thai and Pad See Ew became popular in World War II when Thailand was facing a rice shortage. Noodles, on the other hand, were in abundance so the Thai government encouraged the substitution of rice with these noodles. The citizens mixed noodles with various vegetables and proteins resulting in new inexpensive, instant classics that the world has been enjoying ever since.
Today, Pad Woon Sen is popular in Thailand sold by street vendors and in restaurants throughout the world.
Both Pad Woon Sen and Pad Thai are Thai noodle dishes, but they are quite different. Pad Thai is characterized by its nuttiness from crushed peanuts and a tangy, subtly sweet sauce made from tamarind sauce, fish sauce and palm sugar. It is made with wide rice noodles. Pad Woon Sen, on the other hand, is characterized by thin glass noodles and a slightly sweet-savory sauce. Pad Woon Sen is a more mild tasting dish.
Both Drunken Noodles and Pad Woon Sen are Thai noodle dishes made with protein, vegetables and similar sauces. Pad Woon Sen, however, is characterized by its use of glass noodles and slightly sweet sauce. Pad Kee Mao, on the other hand, is characterized by its wider rice noodles, spicy Thai chilies and fragrant, anise Thai holy basil which creates a fiery, fabulously fragrant sauce.
Both Pad Sew Ew and Pad Woon Sen are Thai noodle dishes made with protein, eggs and similar sauces. Pad See Ew, however, is made with wide rice noodles instead of glass noodles and only contains the vegetable Chinese broccoli. It is typically served with chili vinegar on the side. Pad Woon Sen, however, is made is made with glass noodles and a variety of vegetables.
Sweet potato noodles, used to cook Korean Japchae, are the best alternative to glass noodles. They have a similar chewy texture.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Pad Woon Sen
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Quick Chicken Marinade
- 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 cups sliced cabbage
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded, sliced into strips (not too thin)
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 eggs, whisked
Pad Woon Sen Sauce
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (may sub light)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon molasses (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 tsp EACH ground coriander, ground white pepper (may sub black pepper)
- 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- chopped green onions
- sliced chilies or chili sauce
- Prepare chicken: Whisk together the Chicken Marinade ingredients in a medium bowl (soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, pepper). Add chopped chicken and toss to evenly coat; set aside.
- Prepare the glass noodles: Soak the noodles in a bowl of hot water until tender, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick together, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles in cold water. Toss with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil. Set aside.
- Make the sauce: Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients together and prep the veggies, set aside.
- Stir fry the veggies: Heat another tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add onions and stir fry for 3 minutes, until starting to caramelize. Add cabbage, carrots and bell pepper and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, ginger and garlic, and stir fry for 1 minute, until vegetables are almost to desired crisp-tenderness (they will cook a little more with the noodles).
- Cook the eggs: Push the vegetables to the perimeter of the pan. Add a drizzle of oil to the center of the pan. Add the beaten eggs to the hot oil and scramble in the center until cooked.
- Stir fry everything together: Add chicken back to the skillet, along with the noodles and sauce and toss to combine. Stir fry everything together until evenly coated in the sauce. Adjust to taste (I like additional white pepper).
- Serve: Garnish with green onions, chilies, and sesame seeds if desired.
- Glass Noodles: These give the dish its quintessential chewiness. When shopping, look for bright white, very thin noodles with mung bean starch listed in the ingredients and not rice (which makes rice vermicelli noodles), and not sweet potatoes (which makes Korean glass noodles). If you can’t find glass noodles at your local Asian market, you can purchase them on Amazon HERE.
- Oyster/fish sauce substitute: If you’re allergic to shellfish/vegetarian, use Lee Kum Kee Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce instead of oyster sauce and fish sauce.
- Soy sauce + molasses + brown sugar: This trio creates an easy substitute for Thai sweet soy sauce. Do NOT skip the molasses, it is what makes this recipe taste authentic! Use low sodium soy sauce or your noodles will be too salty.
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