Pad Kra Pao (Thai Holy Basil Chicken Stir Fry)
Pad Kra Pao is one of my favorite Thai recipes to make. It is essentially just chicken pieces stir fried in a chili paste, and it only takes a few minutes to cook! I like to make a large batch of the Pad Kra Pao paste at once, and then just use it whenever I want to make this dish. I find it holds in the fridge in an airtight container for at least 6 months (maybe longer, 6 months is as far as I’ve gotten before running out and it was still good). This recipe for the paste will make around 20 servings, so if you only want to make a few, you can reduce the ingredients proportionately to suit your needs.
The reason I make a large batch of paste at once is two fold. The first reason being that it is such a nuisance to make an amount of paste just for one or two servings. The second being, by doing it all at once, it only takes me a few minutes to make this entire dish whenever I feel like having it.
Even though Alona and I spend a month or two a year in Thailand, the only time I can cook with the freshest Thai ingredients is when we are at our place in Koh Samui. Thus I usually end up making a bunch of different pastes before we leave and bringing them back to our place in Ukraine. Pad Kra Pao, along with my Massaman Curry, are some of my favorite Thai dishes to make!
Pad Kra Pao Ingredients
Cody’s Pad Kra Pao Paste Recipe
100 Birds Eye Chilies; chopped
50 cloves Garlic; minced
150 ml Oyster Sauce
150 ml Soy Sauce
100 ml Fish Sauce. The best fish sauce comes from Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam, so every time I’m there I’m always bringing back fish sauce and coffee. You can order it on Amazon here.
65 grams Palm Sugar. If you can’t find palm sugar at your grocery, you can substitute for light brown sugar. I find having a little bit of molasses in there is better than just using regular castor sugar. You can also order palm sugar on Amazon here.
250 grams Holy Basil. The actual amount is up to you depending on how strong you want it. As I don’t stir fry with fresh holy basil, it is all up to the paste to do the trick, so I tent to put in quite a lot. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Thai people told me to double the amount, they really love this stuff.
2 large Onions; chopped finely
Other Ingredients (per serving)
1 Chicken Breast; chopped very finely. Traditionally in Thailand they do a rough ground chicken, but I just chop it into very small pieces with a chef knife. It still tastes the same.
1 Quail Egg; or a regular egg if you prefer. (optional)
1 tsp Red Chili Flakes; optional
2 tbsp Sunflower Oil; for stir frying
Salt; to taste
Pad Kra Pao Instructions
1. To start you’ll have to make the paste. As this paste is good enough for about 20 servings (more or less) the printable recipe will differ when it comes to quantity of ingredients. Take all the ingredients in the paste list and crush them together in a mortar and pestle. As there are such large quantities of ingredients, you can add ingredients a little at a time, or just use a strong blender. I know, using a blender is cheating, whatever, it allows you to make a large batch at once and unless your Thai grandmother’s been making it in a mortar and pestle your entire childhood, it’s quite hard to taste the difference. Put the paste into and airtight container and leave in the fridge until needed.
2. In a wok or large saute pan on high heat add two to three tbsp of the paste, along with two tbsp of water, salt, and the finely chopped chicken breast. This only takes about 2 minutes or less to cook so constantly agitate the pan/wok, tossing it to keep things from burning. Once the chicken is cooked, dump onto a bowl or a plate.
3. I fry a quail egg in the same pan as the chicken, and it can usually cook sunny side up from the residual heat leftover in about a minute. I take the quail egg and put it right on top of the chicken. I sprinkle some red chili flakes and eat immediately.
This dish usually comes with white rice, but as I don’t always want to eat rice, I don’t include it as a necessary part of the recipe.
You can use a whole egg instead of the quail egg, if you prefer. I just like quail eggs because they look prettier.