Pad Kra Pao also known as Thai Holy Basil Stir Fry in English is wildly popular in Thailand’s street food scene. The dish comes together in 15 minutes or less and can be customized to your liking!
Pad Kra Pao or Thai Holy Basil Stir Fry is one of those dishes that seem like they’re complicated but are far from it. This dish literally comes together in less than 15 minutes which is probably why it is a popular street food item in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Pad Kra Pao is also one of those dishes that you can completely make your own. This is the beauty of cooking. You can adjust measurements that fit your tastebuds and still stay true to the authentic dish!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR PAD KRA PAO (THAI HOLY BASIL STIR FRY):
- Bird’s eye chili pepper aka Thai chili pepper and garlic are the base of pad kra pao.
- You can use ground pork or ground chicken –or really any protein that works for you.
- Sauces: oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and dark soy sauce (also called black soy sauce) are key. If you’re serious about Thai and Southeast Asian cooking, these sauces should be pantry staples.
- Sugar is used in a lot of Southeast Asian cooking because it balances the saltiness of the dish.
- Thai holy basil is the main and key ingredient to this dish. Thai holy basil can be hard to find sometimes so you can use regular Thai basil or Italian basil. I actually prefer Italian basil as a substitute because it has a very similar flavor profile to Thai holy basil.
HELPFUL TIPS AND TRICKS TO GET THE BEST PAD KRA PAO:
- If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, I recommend getting a set! However, if you don’t have access to one, I recommend adding the chili peppers and garlic to a ziplock bag and then using something heavy to crush it. Crushing the chili peppers and garlic will release the essential oils and provide more flavor. But yes, if anything you can mince or use a food processor.
- Adding a pinch of salt to the chili pepper and garlic helps create a little grit so it’s easier to pound it out with the pestle.
- When picking your ground pork or chicken, make sure to get ground protein that’s on the fattier side. This will provide a lot of flavor and keep the meat moist and juicy.
- For the sauce, you can really add as much or as little of each. I can’t emphasize enough how customizable this dish is.
- As soon as you add your Thai holy basil to the stir fry, you want to turn off the heat, and continue to stir until it’s wilted. This is so you don’t overcook the basil and it won’t lose its flavor.
- Yes, this is best served with crispy fried eggs and fresh made jasmine rice!
The next time you need a quick and easy meal, add Pad Kra Pao to the menu! Be sure to tag me on Instagram if you make this.
Pad Kra Pao (Thai Holy Basil Stir Fry)
- 4-5 bird's eye chili pepper (Thai chili pepper)
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- a pinch of salt
- 1 lb ground pork or ground chicken
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1-2 cups Thai holy basil removed from stem or Thai basil or Italian basil
- avocado oil or any cooking oil
- 1-4 crispy fried eggs (1 egg per serving)
- cooked jasmine rice
Add the bird's eye chili garlic, and a pinch of salt into a mortar and crush with a pestle into a rough paste.
Preheat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat with about 1-2 tbsp of avocado oil.
Add the chili pepper and garlic paste and cook for about 30-45 seconds. Make sure to move the paste so it doesn't burn.
Next add in the ground pork. Break up the pork and cook until 90% cooked.
When the ground pork is almost cooked add in the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar. Mix until well combined.
Throw in the Thai holy basil, turn off the heat, and continue to stir fry until the basil has wilted from the residual heat.
Serve with crispy fried eggs and hot jasmine rice.
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