Pad Kra Pao – Thai Holy Basil Stir Fry
If you think that Thai food is all about curries, prepare to have a new favorite Thai dish. Pad Kra Pao (often called holy basil stir fry) is a quick and easy stir fry with amazing flavor. A good base of aromatics and a quick sauce turn green beans and your ground meat of choice (or not meat) into a meal that will knock everyone’s socks off.
By itself, over rice (as pictured), this meal is already fantastic. If you want to knock it up another notch, adding green beans and/or topping it with a fried egg are both excellent additions.
The only downside to this meal is the ingredient list. Fortunately, all it takes is a trip to the Asian grocer. Oyster sauce will always be there, and look for shallots as well. Some grocery stores charge through the nose for shallots (I’ve seen them over $2 each), but they shouldn’t be much more expensive than onions by weight in the right place. You can look for proper holy basil while you’re at the Asian market as well, but it isn’t necessary–sweet basil tastes great in this.
Just be careful the first time you cook this, because you might start craving it four times a week.
Pad Kra Pao
1 lb. ground chicken (or pork or beef)
2 cups green beans, sliced to 1” pieces
½ cup shallot, minced
½ cup jalapeno, minced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
¼ cup light broth (chicken, vegetable, etc.)
1 cup basil, chiffonade
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
¾ cup green beans chopped to 1” pieces
Fried eggs (1 per person)
In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and broth. In a separate dish, make a slurry with ½ tbsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp water. Then pour the slurry into the bowl with the rest of your sauce. Set this aside for now.
Bring a skillet up to high heat and add your oil. Swirl the oil around the pan and then add the shallot, jalapeno, and garlic. Stir this often until the edges of the garlic darken. Add the ground meat and green beans (if using), and cook until the meat is just done, breaking it apart as you go.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sauce. Mix it up before adding to ensure that the cornstarch is evenly suspended in the mixture. Once in the pan, stir it as it thickens. Add the basil and continue to stir. Remove from heat.
Serve over rice and top with a fried egg, if desired.