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Pad Kra Pao:
Thai Basil Stir-Fry with a Fiery Kick

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Pad Kra Pao is typically made with ground chicken, pork, or beef, but can also be made with tofu for a vegetarian option. The Thai basil in the dish lends a unique flavor that sets it apart from other stir-fry dishes, while the bird's eye chilies provide a fiery kick. Pad Kra Pao is traditionally served over steamed jasmine rice, often accompanied by a crispy fried egg on top.

Pad Kra Pao is a versatile and satisfying meal that can be customized to suit different taste preferences by adjusting the heat level or adding various vegetables. It's a popular choice in Thai cuisine, enjoyed both in Thailand and Thai restaurants around the world.


Makes 2 - 4 servings


  • 1 lb ground chicken or pork

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 Thai bird's eye chilies, minced (adjust to your spiciness level)

  • 2 cups Thai basil leaves

  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tsp sugar


  1. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.

  2. Add garlic and chilies, cooking for 30 seconds, until fragrant.

  3. Add the ground meat, breaking it apart and cooking until no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes.

  4. Stir in oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

  5. Add Thai basil leaves and cook until wilted.

  6. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice and a fried egg on top, if desired.

Tips for making the perfect Pad Kra Pao:

  1. Customize the heat: Adjust the number of Thai bird's eye chilies according to your preferred spice level. You can also substitute with other types of chilies or use chili paste if fresh chilies are unavailable.

  2. Use the right basil: Thai basil has a unique flavor that is essential for Pad Kra Pao. While you can substitute with other varieties of basil, such as sweet basil or holy basil, the flavor will not be the same.

  3. Add vegetables: For a more nutritious and colorful dish, add vegetables like sliced bell peppers, green beans, or baby corn during step 4, when you add the sauces.

  4. Try different proteins: While this recipe calls for ground chicken or pork, you can also use ground beef, turkey, or even tofu for a vegetarian option. If using tofu, make sure to press and drain it well before crumbling and adding to the stir-fry.

  5. Use a wok for best results: A wok's high sides and quick, even heating make it perfect for stir-frying. However, if you don't have a wok, a large skillet will work too.

  6. Frying the egg: To achieve the traditional Thai-style fried egg, heat a generous amount of oil in a small pan, crack the egg into the hot oil, and fry until the edges are crispy and golden brown, while the yolk remains slightly runny.

  7. Presentation: Serve Pad Kra Pao over steamed jasmine rice in a shallow bowl or on a plate, with the fried egg on top. For a more authentic touch, serve with a side of sliced cucumber and a wedge of lime for a burst of freshness.

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