Classic Pad Kra Pao: A Thai Holy Basil Stir-Fry Recipe

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Pad Kra Pao, also known as Holy Basil Stir-Fry, is a vibrant and flavorful Thai dish that explodes with sweet, savory, and spicy notes. This crowd-pleasing recipe is deceptively simple to prepare, making it a perfect weeknight meal.


-Minute Pad Kra Pao (Thai Basil Pork)
-Minute Pad Kra Pao (Thai Basil Pork)

1 pound ground chicken or pork (or tofu for a vegetarian option)

  • 1 cup fresh Thai holy basil leaves (substitute with regular basil in a pinch)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced (adjust to your spice preference)
  • 1/2 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon water (optional)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Steamed white rice, for serving

  • Directions:

    1. Prep the Ingredients: Wash and chop the vegetables. Mince the garlic and chilies. If using fresh holy basil, rinse and set aside.
    2. Marinate the Meat (Optional): In a bowl, combine the ground meat with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (for a thicker texture). Marinate for 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
    3. Heat the Wok: Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat until shimmering.
    4. Stir-Fry the Meat: Add the ground meat and cook, breaking it up with a spatula, until browned. Drain any excess fat.
    5. Add the Aromatics: Push the cooked meat to the side of the pan and add the garlic and chilies. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, releasing the fragrant aromatics.
    6. Incorporate the Vegetables: Add the green beans and red bell pepper to the pan and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
    7. Flavor Explosion: Pour in the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Stir-fry for another minute, allowing the flavors to meld. Add a tablespoon of water if the mixture seems too dry.
    8. Holy Basil Time: Stir in the holy basil leaves and cook for just 30 seconds, until wilted but still vibrant green.
    9. Season and Serve: Taste and adjust seasonings with salt to your preference. Serve immediately over steamed white rice.

    Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

    (Please note that these are approximate values and may vary depending on the specific ingredients used.)

    Calories: 450-500

  • Fat: 20-25g
  • Carbohydrates: 40-45g
  • Protein: 30-35g

  • Conclusion:

    Pad Kra Pao is a delightful introduction to Thai cuisine. With its symphony of flavors and textures, it’s no wonder this dish has become a beloved staple. So ditch the takeout menu and whip up this flavorful stir-fry for a satisfying and budget-friendly meal at home.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can I substitute ground turkey for chicken or pork?

    Absolutely! Ground turkey works just as well in this recipe.

    2. What if I can’t find holy basil?

    Regular basil is a decent substitute, although it lacks the unique licorice-like flavor of holy basil. You can also try substituting with Thai basil (available at some Asian grocery stores) for a closer flavor profile.

    3. How can I make this dish vegan?

    For a vegan version, replace the ground meat with crumbled tempeh or firm tofu. Saute the tempeh or tofu in a little oil before adding it to the stir-fry.

    4. How can I adjust the spice level?

    Start with one chili and add more to taste. You can also remove the seeds from the chilies for a milder heat.

    5. What other vegetables can I add?