Pad Kaprow or Thai Basil Beef Stir-fry

June 15, 2023 1 Comment

Pad Kaprow or Thai Basil Beef Stir-fry

 This is possibly Thailand's best loved dish, and I can't count the number of times I have been asked to make a paste for it. My answer has always been no. Sure I could sell it, but it would feel like theft, this has none of the complexities of an authentic curry paste nor are the ingredients difficult to source, it's a simple stir-fry with easily obtainable ingredients. Ok, there is an argument to be made that Thai holy basil is far from easy to obtain, so difficult in fact that if you have eaten this dish in the UK, or almost anywhere outside Thailand, it's highly doubtful that it would have been made with holy basil. The reasons for the difficulties in obtaining this herb can be found here on an article I first wrote six years ago, and nothing has really changed since then. So, as in restaurants throughout the country, we make it using a much easier to obtain variety of basil called Thai basil or sometimes Thai sweet basil. I can also tell you that a lot of Thai expats are happy even to use Italian basil. What they would never do is go online and buy one of those awful pastes they sell on eBay or Amazon on the grounds that they contain Thai holy basil. Yes, they do, about 5 grams worth, along with the stabilizers, acidity regulators, flavour enhancers, in a foul-tasting chemical soup. Let's be clear here, no street food vendor or restaurant in Thailand or elsewhere would ever use one of those pastes, not only are they foul they're totally unnecessary and work out more expensive to use.

In Thailand we normally serve this with a crispy fried egg. In the West, fried eggs that are crispy round the edges are normally so simply because they have been left too long to fry and will come with a congealed yolk. The Thai fried egg is cooked very differently over a high heat to crisp the edges of the egg and leave a runny yolk. I use two different methods here and you can see them both in the video.


Ingredients for Pad Krapow. Please check and adjust ingredient amounts per portion in the recipe notes at the bottom or click "Jump to recipe" button above.

Ingredients for Pad Krapow

Slice meat thinly at a 45 degree angle
 Cut meat at an angle 
In the UK these chillies are normally labeled Birds Eye chillies. That is not what they are, real Birds Eye chillies are much smaller. But chillies of around this size will provide a decent level of heat for most tastes.

Add the chillies together with the sliced mild chilli and the garlic to the mortar.

Mix Chillies Garlic Web 
Pound them to a medium consistency as shown in the picture. If you are using something like a mini food processor or food chopper instead of a mortar and pestle, be careful not to over blend the mixture.

Chillies & Garlic 
 Heat the wok to a medium heat and stir fry the chilli mixture for about 20 seconds. Make sure you have an extractor fan turned on if you don't want to start crying and coughing!

Fry Chillies 
Add meat to the Wok and stir fry for around 90 seconds and then add the dark soy sauce and stir fry for 60 seconds.

Add dark soy sauce 
 Add the white sugar and the brown sugar and continue to stir fry.

White Sugar 
Brown Sugar  
Add the light soy sauce and stir fry for 60 seconds.

Light Soy sauce 
Add the oyster sauce and stir through thoroughly. 

Oyster sauce  
Add the Thai Basil and stir fry for a few seconds.
Add Thai Basil
 You're ready to serve!

Serving presentation



1 Response


June 27, 2023

Left us stunned. So superior to what is served up in our local Thai restaurant, and the best thing of all is I cooked it!

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