Pad Woon Sen is a classic Thai noodle dish that may not be as popular as Pad Thai but is equally delicious. Smooth and silky glass noodles are stir-fried with crunchy vegetables for contrast, then topped with cilantro for freshness and Thai bird chili for a spicy kick.
Pad Woon Sen is one of my very favorite Thai dishes. It may not be as popular as Pad Thai but is sure to satisfy your taste buds. Silky glass noodles (woon sen) are stir-fried in a savory sauce. This dish is loaded with veggies and protein, making it a very satisfying meal.
What Noodles to Use for Pad Woon Sen
Bean thread noodles (also known as “glass noodles” or “cellophane noodles”) are easily mistaken for rice vermicelli when uncooked because they look very similar. A lot of Asian supermarkets keep both types of noodles on the same shelf, so read the packaging to ensure you’re buying the right kind.
Once they are cooked, you’ll be able to see that the rice vermicelli is white and opaque, while glass noodles are more transparent.
You’ll also notice a difference in textures between those two types of noodles. Glass noodles are slightly smoother and more starchy than rice vermicelli. It is very similar to the sweet potato starch noodles used in Japchae, only thinner.
How to Make Pad Woon Sen
Soak 160g of (dry) glass noodles in room temperature water for about 10 minutes before preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Keep them soaking in the water until just before you start cooking. Drain the noodles using a colander or strainer just before you fire up the wok.
Next, prepare the sauce by combining 2 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and a dash of ground white pepper.
Stir well to combine the sauce ingredients.
Lightly beat 2 eggs.
Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Pour the beaten eggs into the wok, and let it sit for about 30 seconds untouched.
Then, scramble the eggs using your wok spatula. I prefer larger pieces of scrambled eggs, but you may certainly keep breaking it up into smaller pieces if you prefer. Remove the scrambled eggs from the wok and set them aside.
Add a splash of cooking oil to the wok if it is too dry, then stir-fry 3/4 cup of chicken thigh (cut into small pieces). When the chicken is almost cooked all the way through, add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce just to give it some additional flavor and color.
Add 1 small onion (sliced), and 3 cloves of garlic (minced) to the wok. Continue to stir-fry until the onions are slightly translucent and the chicken has cooked all the way through.
Push the chicken, onions and garlic to the side of the wok to make way for 1 cup of julienned carrots and 1 cup of shredded cabbage. (Tip: use coleslaw mix to save time here!)
Add 1 tomato (cut into small wedges) to the mix.
Toss the glass noodles into the wok, right on top of the chicken and veggies.
Pour the sauce over the glass noodles, then give everything a good stir until all of the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce.
Return the scrambled eggs to the wok, then add 2 cups of fresh bean sprouts.
Add 2 stalks of scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces.
Stir to combine all ingredients.
Transfer the noodles to a large serving bowl or dish. Garnish with fresh cilantro and sliced Thai bird chili if desired.
Pad Woon Sen
- 160 grams bean thread noodles dried
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3/4 cup chicken thighs cut into small pieces
- 1 onion small, sliced
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup carrots julienned
- 1 cup cabbage shredded
- 1 to mato cut into wedges
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 stalks scallions cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 dash ground white pepper
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- 3 - 4 Thai bird chili sliced
- Soak the bean thread noodles in a large bowl of room-temperature water for about 10 minutes before preparing the rest of the ingredients. (Drain the noodles using a strainer just before cooking).
- Prepare the sauce by combining the water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and white pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Pour the beaten eggs into the wok and leave untouched for about 30 seconds before scrambling them. Remove from wok and set aside.
- Add a splash of cooking oil to the wok if it's too dry, then stir-fry the chicken. When almost cooked all the way through, add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce to the chicken.
- Add onion and garlic to the wok. Continue to stir-fry until the onions are slightly translucent and the chicken has cooked all the way through.
- Add cabbage and carrots. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, then add the tomato wedges.
- Add the glass noodles to the wok, then pour the sauce over the noodles. Give everything a good stir until all of the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce.
- Return the scrambled eggs to the wok, then add bean sprouts and scallions.
- Stir to combine all ingredients.
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro and Thai bird chili.
Tuesday 3rd of January 2023
Can this be made without the fish sauce?
Wednesday 4th of January 2023
Hi Melody. Yes, it is fine to omit the fish sauce if you prefer. It's a bit difficult to replicate that fish sauce flavor but you can add a bit of lime juice and just a bit more soy sauce in its place.
Thursday 17th of November 2022
Char, I had to say, "thank you tremendously" for posting such a delicious, authentic Pad woon sen. I make it with shrimp, scallops and tofu. I even traveled to my closest H-Mart (Asian Market) to find 3 Crab Fish Sauce and Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce and it really makes a huge difference. Every time I change up the veggies (red peppers, chinese spinach, carrots, tomatoes, etc.) and the flavor is wonderfully different. My local Thai restaurant wanted $17.00 for an appetizer-sized entree. I was determined to make it myself in my wok forevermore. Char, you're the best! Xoxo,
Sunday 20th of November 2022
This made my day! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this comment and I'm so glad that you enjoyed this recipe! Good sauces are so important; I'm glad you found those brands. Thanks again!! xoxo
Wednesday 5th of October 2022
Made this recipe today, it was super easy and tasted very good. I prepared the sauce, veggies and meat ahead of time which made it quick to put it all together once ready to cook. Will definitely make it again! Thanks for sharing!
Thursday 6th of October 2022
Thank you, Ro!! I'm so glad you enjoyed this!
Tuesday 15th of June 2021
I made this recipe today. It came out JUST like when I order it at the Thai restaurant. I used shrimp, chicken, and bison for the protein and used a drop of hot sauce instead of white pepper in the sauce. I will definitely make it again!!
Wednesday 16th of June 2021
I'm so happy to hear this, Kelley! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this comment!
Wednesday 24th of February 2021
Thank you so much for sharing! I made as directed without the meat to make it vegetarian! I also added zucchini to add more veggies. For some reason my sauce came out very salty, any suggestion or ideas as to what went wrong or how I can cut the salt?
Saturday 27th of February 2021
Hi Heather! I'm sorry the sauce turned out too salty. I would try adding a bit more water and/reduce the amount of soy sauce and oyster sauce. When stirring the sauce into the noodles, try adding a bit at a time until it's just right. I hope that helps!