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Stir fry - Pad kra pao

Pad kra pao = holy basil stir fry'. It's a stir fry of meat (typically ground meat), holy basil, and loads of chilies. It’s served on rice, and usually with a fried egg on top. The more modern rendition of pad kra pao (the one your local Thai restaurant probably makes) contains veggies like green beans and onions; along with a more complex seasoning that might include oyster sauce, soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. This recipe, however, is an old-school, traditional style that is much simpler. Many Thais call this the original pad gaprao!

Ingredients (without the sugar, of course)

  • Garlic
  • Thai chilis, or another spicy chili such as serrano. This is your source of heat, and for a truly authentic pad kra pao, you want to add as many as you can handle!
  • Mild red chilis. We want to have a lot of chili flavor here, but not so much as to hurt ourselves, so we can add some milder ones. Anything red and mild will work such as red anaheim, long red pepper, mini bell pepper or even red bell pepper if all else fails.
  • Meat, traditionally ground but slices of pork belly work just great
  • Fish sauce. Fish sauce is your only seasoning in traditional pad kra pao, so it’s important to use a good one. Read this post on how to choose a good fish sauce.
  • Unsalted beef stock, chicken stock, or water
  • Ground black pepper if using beef. For chicken and pork white pepper will also work.
  • Basil - Holy basil best, then sweet basil, lastly Thai basil
  • Veggies if wanted - spring onions, broccoli...
  • Eggs
  • Oil e.g. avocado oil
  • Prik nam pla (optional) - a spicy fish sauce condiment classically served with Pad kra pao
    • Combine chopped chilies and fish sauce in a small bowl, maybe with thinly sliced garlic and/or shallots
    • Add as many chilies as you like
    • Add a squeeze of lime for some aciditym - say 1 part lime juice to 3 parts fish sauce
  1. In a mortar and pestle, pound the Thai chilies into a fine paste. Add the garlic and the chopped mild chilies and pound just into a rough paste.
  2. Deep fry eggs, splashing oil over them while browning edges. Leave sitting while you wok the rest...
  3. In hot wok, add the meat and spread it out. Sear the meat without moving it until the underside is browned. Toss and keep cooking until liquid from the beef starts to come out. Let the meat cook, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has evaporated and the beef starts to sizzle and brown further to develop flavour.
  4. Push the meat to one side of the pan, add a little more oil and add the garlic and chili mixture, then sauté until garlic starts to turn golden.
  5. Toss the garlic with the meat then add about half of the stock or water and fish sauce; toss to mix well.
  6. Add the sliced mild chilis and toss for 30 seconds; if it’s looking too dry, add a splash more water or stock.
  7. Turn off the heat, add the basil and mix just until wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  8. Yum!

Based on Hot Thai kitchen

Page last modified on September 17, 2023, at 06:41 PM