Pad Kra Pao – also spelled Phat Kaphrao or Pad Kra Pow is loosely translated from Thai as Holy Basil Stir Fry. The dish consists of stir fried pork mince with lots of birds eye chillies, garlic, Thai holy basil and a sweet soy sauce. It is one of the most popular Thai dishes, along with others such as Panang Curry and Pad Thai. The dish itself doesn’t have to contain pork mince as the meat element, but also works with diced chicken, squid or beef. The finished dish should be hot from the birds eye chillies but the heat should be balanced by the sweet sauce and aromatic holy basil. As with all stir fried dishes, it comes together very quickly so always lay out your prepared ingredients before starting to cook.
Online stores such as Sous Chef, or your local Asian supermarket, should have all the ingredients you need to make this. If you can’t find holy basil, Thai basil or even Italian basil will still work. Holy basil is a bit more peppery, though.
I have served my Pad Kra Pao as you may find it in Thailand, with Thai Sticky Rice and a fried egg. The fried eggs you get in Thailand are fried in a very hot pan with about 2cm of oil. The hot oil is spooned over the egg as it cooks, to cook the top of the egg white before burning the bottom. The sides of the egg white should be crisp and golden.
Difficulty Level: Home Cook
- 400g pork mince
- 3-7 birds eye chillies (it will really depend on how hot your chillies are. Taste a little bit of raw chilli and decide how many you want to use- but it should be hot)
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 3-4 thai shallots, finely sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, or mild red chilli, chopped into strips
- Large bunch of Holy Basil (or Thai Basil or Italian Basil)
- Sunflower oil or chilli oil
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (light)
- 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (it is thick and almost black in appearance)
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
- 100ml water
- Thai Sticky Rice
- Fried Eggs
- First put the peeled garlic cloves and the birds eye chillies in a pestle and mortar. Pound to a coarse paste.
- Heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat. Add a couple tablespoons of oil and the shallot. Stir fry until just softening, around one minute.
- Add the chilli and garlic paste and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the mince, using a wooden spoon to break it up. Cook until brown and beginning to crisp, around 5-6 minutes, adding the red pepper half way through.
- Add the sauce ingredients and bubble until reduced and glossy, around 2-3 minutes,
- Finally stir through the basil until just wilted.
- Serve the Pad Kra Pao with sticky rice and a fried egg.