In need of the quickest, easiest Thai meal ever that kids adore and also magically uses up all your leftovers? Pad Mama is right here my dear! Yay!
How to Use Up Leftovers with Easy Instant Ramen Noodles Stir-Fry
“What’s your kids favorite Thai meal?” my Thai cooking class students often ask me.
Even though 80 percent of our dinners are Thai, much to my dismay, my kids often prefer pizza over Pad Thai (even though all their friends prefer my Pad Thai!).
My friends who grew up in multicultural families say that’s totally normal, and that one day when my kids are eating pizza at their college dining hall, they will long for my Pad Thai.
Crossing my fingers that’s the case!
But every Saturday when I tell the kids the next day is Sunday they say,”Yay! Tomorrow is Pad Mama day!” Because their favorite Thai meal is Pad Mama, Stir-Fried Thai Ramen Instant Noodles made by their Paw.
On Sunday my Thai Hubby gets to play around in the kitchen cooking up Pad Mama, an instant ramen noodle stir-fry with whatever is leftover in the fridge, and the rest of us get to rest and delight in a new Pad Mama creation every week.
When there is something on the brink in our fridge that I haven’t used up, my Thai Hubby is adamant that we use it, and don’t waste it, it’s a gift!
Agreed! So hopefully this will help you use up your lovely leftovers and make some mouth-watering easy instant ramen noodles at the same time.
Instant Ramen Noodle Mix-In Ideas
Feel free to use my suggested recipe directions, or add in your own bits of sauces leftover on your fridge shelves that might taste amazing on your Pad Mama or sometimes people who are trying to remember the name get confused and call it Mama Pad!
Pad Mama Sauce ideas:
Instead of using the Mama instant ramen noodle spice packets, sometimes we will use leftover Thai sauces instead like:
Pad Mama Veggie Mix-In Ideas:
We rarely use the same veggies each week. It’s really just whatever we need to use up, but here are some ideas that we’ve loved:
- Purple cabbage
- Red, yellow and orange peppers
- Fresh bean sprouts
- Fresh green beans
- Green onions
Pad Mama Protein Mix-In Ideas:
We rarely use the same protein each week. It’s really just whatever we need to use up, but here are some ideas that we’ve loved:
- Rotisserie chicken
- Ground turkey, pork or beef
- Fried tofu
- Eggs: scrambled or fried and put on top
What is Mama in Thai food?
You might be confused if you hear your Thai friends saying they want Mama, and maybe you are even wondering if that’s the Thai word for mom? Nope! Mama is the most popular brand of Instant Ramen Noodles in Thailand and has been around since 1972 when the Thai Presidents Foods Company started to produce them.
Pad Mama vs. Pad Thai
If you’ve traveled to or lived in Thailand or even had Thai friends in your own country, you might have heard them talking about Pad Mama, or sometimes people get confused and call it Mama Pad, which is a Thai stir-fry dish that uses Mama noodles, the popular Thai instant ramen noodles brand.
But what’s the difference between Pad Mama and Pad Thai?
Pad means stir-fry, so Pad Mama means stir-fried Mama noodles, and Pad Thai means stir-fried Thai noodles.
Pad Thai can be made with Mama noodles, but typically it’s made with rice noodles.
How to Make Mama Noodles Better
You might wonder how to make your Mama Noodles taste even better than they do. My Thai Hubby has taught me a tip if you are a Mama Noodle Newbie:
Cook Mama noodles for only 1 minute!
Especially if you are stir-frying them, make sure they aren’t super soft because then the noodles will have too much moisture and goop together. You really only need to boil them for about 1 minute and then they are cooked.
Sherri’s Mama Instant Ramen Story
I was never a fan of tasteless American instant ramen noodles, aka the ridiculously cheap Maruchan Ramen that give legit Japanese ramen a bad name.
So when I saw the variety of Thai instant ramen noodles called Mama sitting on the shelf at the one of the many 7/11’s that sits at every corner in Bangkok, I thought, “Ew, they have instant noodles here too??”
But I forgot I was in Thailand, where even instant ramen noodles have flavor that makes your tongue dance with delight.
One of my Thai co-workers in Bangkok, was about to head to the break room to make a quick lunch of Mama noodles, and asked if I wanted to try some too.
II had no idea what she was talking about, but said, “Sure!” and was on the edge of my seat to see what easy Thai meal she was about to let me try.
She heated some water in an electric kettle, opened the colorful, crinkly Mama instant ramen package, put the hard, crinkly ramen noodles in a white plastic bowl, poured over the steaming water, added the seasoning packets, stirred and then offered me a bite—like all good Thais do whenever they have food and friends in front of them.
After that bite, a big smile lit up my face. Somehow the steaming bowl of noodles before me that took 3 minutes to make tasted just like Tom Yum soup that I would get from a Thai street vendor.
How could I have ever thought Thai instant ramen would be like America’s?
Where to Find Thai Mama Noodles
If you go to any Asian market, you will find one aisle packed from the top to the bottom with a rainbow of Instant Ramen Noodles packages from every Asian country with flavors like Mama Thai Green Curry or Mama Tom Yum. mind-blowing spicy Samyang Buldak Korean noodles to refreshing Indonesian Indomie Mi Goreng noodles.
You can use this Pad Mama recipe with any instant ramen noodles, so go try out a few different brands and see what’s your fav!
If you make easy Thai instant ramen noodle stir-fry, let me know what you put in yours! We are always looking for new creative ideas! Share with me on Instagram @thaifoodie, I wanna see!Print
In need of the quickest, easiest Thai meal ever that also magically uses up all your leftovers? Pad Mama is here my dear! Yay!
4 packages of Thai instant Ramen Noodles (our favorite brand is Mama)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of meat of choice, sliced into bite-sized pieces (ground turkey, shrimp, or chicken breasts are our favorite )
2 cups of veggies that need to be used up (our favs are kale or turnip greens)
1/2 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped
3 green onion stalks, thinly sliced into 1 in. pieces
1–2 tbsp Thai dark soy sauce (optional)
1–2 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)
1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
1/2 tbsp sugar (optional)
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, add the Mama Noodles to the water. Don’t add the seasoning packets yet (unless you are doing a classic soup ramen instead of a dry stir-fry).
And I like to save the little crumbles of dry noodles leftover in the bag to sprinkle on top of each serving at the end. My kids adore the crunch factor, who doesn’t?
It only takes a minute or so to cook them, so I like to keep my eye on them, stirring them once they start to soften, and the moment the noodle has just softened to your likening (Thais prefer on the almost al dente side) drain them from the water in a colander.
Dry out the pan, and either add to that pan, or a wok, (I use the same pan I cooked the noodles in cuz I don’t want to wash more dishes!) add a few tablespoons of cooking oil of choice.
Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.
Add in the protein, and cook it if it’s not cooked, or just warm it up if it’s cooked. Add any veggies that need to be cooked, or warmed.
Once veggies and meat are cooked through, add back in the noodles, and either use the seasoning packets, or leave them out and use the sauces listed to taste (or any leftover sauce in your fridge that needs to be used up).
If we are using the seasoning packets, we use half of them because the flavor is more intense if there isn’t any water involved. Start with adding the packets from two of the packages and add more to taste.
Sprinkle on green onions, cilantro (and ramen noodle crumbles if you want!) and enjoy!
This recipe is really a blueprint, feel free to change it up from what’s listed, and go with wherever your creative juices are taking you! Let your leftovers inspire you, and don’t be afraid to take a risk, and try a new combo
Also feel free to turn it into a soup. Put the noodles, veggies, seasoning packet, egg and cooked meat or tofu in the boiling water. Stir and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Thai
- Method: Stir-Fry
- Cuisine: Thai
- Serving Size: 1
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