Pad Ka-Prao (ผัดกะเพรา) is known as Basil Pork in English (note that it can also be made with ground chicken breast instead of ground pork if you prefer) and is perhaps the quintessential Thai street food.
This is beloved throughout Thailand and is almost always served with a fried egg over rice – you don’t see that all too often with the U.S. versions, but it really adds to the whole experience and taste of the final dish. My version is especially colorful from the use of different colored peppers and chilies – after all, they say you taste first with the eyes…
A major plus to this recipe is that it takes less than 15 minutes from start-to-finish – it is spicy and delicious as well as rich and unctuous from the runny egg yolk mixing with the garlic, pepper, spices and basil in the dish.
Of course, one key data point to consider is that to make this with complete authenticity, you need to use Thai Holy Basil, which isn’t that easy to find outside of Asian supermarkets in the States. Thai Holy Basil has a strong anise flavor that is quite different from the standard basil we typically use.
That said – you can certainly use regular basil if that’s all you’ve got – just call it Pad Bai Horapha (Sweet Basil) instead! A trick I use to simulate the taste of holy basil if I can’t find it in the store is to use some ground Star Anise in the dish, which helps to better simulate the authentic taste. Feel free to omit it if you prefer. For oyster sauce, Lee Kum Kee Premium oyster sauce is among the best – it’s available here on Amazon. For top-quality fish sauce, I like Red Boat brand best – it’s available here on Amazon, closely followed by 3 Crabs brand. Buy Maggi seasoning, it’s a great addition to your cupboard – it is available here on Amazon.
Enjoy this taste of Thailand, Citizens! 😀
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