Pad Kra Pao – Holy Basil Pork Stir-Fry

Pad Kra Pao is a Thai pork stir-fry dish that caught me off-guard.

It is a local favorite breakfast and lunch dish and quickly became my go-to for a cheap, filling, and delicious breakfast. This dish involves fried basil and a pork stir-fry.

When visiting Thailand, it is easy to get caught up in trying to find good western food, especially for breakfast. You forget that Thai food is some of the most complex and flavorful food in the world. Most westerners try to find western food while abroad to feel a little more comfortable but miss out on a lot of really yummy food.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite Thai dishes, Pad Kra Pao. It consists of ground pork and vegetables sauteed with holy basil and a complex sauce that is sweet, spicy, sour, and sharp. All of these flavors make a delicious pork stir-fry that will fill you up for any meal.

Pork Stir-Fry
Thai Pad Kra Pao

Pad Kra Pao:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallions
  • 7 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 Thai bird or holland chilies, de-seeded (if desired) and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • One teaspoon palm sugar
  • One tablespoon fish sauce
  • One tablespoon thin/light soy sauce
  • Two teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • Two teaspoons oyster sauce
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • holy basil leaves (about 1 1/2 cups packed, including the stems)
  • 1 cup steamed rice
  • One fried egg
  1. In a wok over medium-high heat, add the oil and preheat. Add half of the basil to the oil and fry until crispy. Take out of the oil and drain on a plate. Then add the basil stems. Fry until the oil turns slightly green. Throw the stems away.
  2. Add the shallots and garlic. Fry for 3 minutes and add the chilies. Cook for another minute and crank up the heat to high. Add the ground pork stir-fry, breaking it up into small bits and allowing it to crisp up.
  3. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir-fry for another minute and deglaze the pan with the broth or water. Because your pan is over high heat, the liquid should cook off very quickly.
  4. Add the remaining fresh basil, and stir-fry until wilted. Serve next to the steamed rice and place the fried egg on top of the rice. Then sprinkle the crispy fried basil over the pork and egg. Enjoy!
Pork Stir-Fry
Pad Kra Pao

Have you ever had this dish?

I have heard a couple of different ways to cook this dish but this is my favorite version. Don’t forget to get one of Thailand’s famous Thai iced coffee with this dish or any of their abundant smoothies! It will help with the heat if you don’t like spicy foods. If you don’t have access to good iced coffee, you can make your own from a good medium-roast coffee like this one:
Adventurous Coffee Medium Roast

Let me know what your favorite way of cooking this dish is in the comments below! I’m also interested in hearing about your experience with this dish!

Here are a few other dishes I recommend you try:

Coffee BBQ Sauce
Vietnam Pork Belly and Prawn
Buttermilk Biscuits 

  1. This is delicious! I ended up making it with ground turkey instead of pork, and onion instead of shallots, but it still turned out really tasty. I assume you add the scallions with the garlic and shallots? I love the fried egg on top. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. Great substitution! Thai people actually use different kinds of meat. I like the idea of turkey since it’s less fatty. Just make sure to add a little more oil or liquid. The scallions go in with the onions and garlic. I actually like to cut the scallions into 1” pieces so it has more bite in the actual meal. Or you can add half of it and add fresh scallion at the end.

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