Pad Ka-Prao (ผัดกะเพรา)

While Pad Thai or Tom Kha Gai, in my opinion, deserve a somewhat extensive tutorial, there really isn’t much to say about Pad Ka-Prao (RTGS: phat ka-phrao). It’s a dish that doesn’t require many ingredients or demand the kind of skill that takes years to develop. And if this dish could talk, the only thing it would beg of you is that you use the ingredient without which it cannot be what it is: holy basil (Bai Ka-Prao ใบกะเพรา).[1]

Holy Basil (Bai Ka-Prao ใบกะเพรา) – Notice the jagged edges and fuzzy leaves and stems.

Unfortunately, holy basil can be hard to find in many areas. Even those who want to grow it have a hard time finding quality seeds. Thai restaurants overseas struggle with this too. They know (at least one would hope so …) that they’re not supposed to use anything other than holy basil. Yet, some routinely use purple/sweet basil instead, because it’s easier to find. As understandable as it is, one cannot pass off such a dish as Pad Ka-Prao — literally “holy basil stir-fry” — without being guilty of untruthfulness. [Added August 11, 2011: If you only have sweet basil, feel free to use it and call it Pad Bai Horapha.]

Other than that, Pad Ka-Prao is very easy to make; to ruin it, you have to try pretty hard.

[It must be pointed out that purists maintain that oyster sauce and soy sauce — two ingredients that are almost always added to Pad Ka-Prao — should not be used. You can certainly go that route in which case omit the dark soy sauce and oyster sauce in the recipe below and add to the stir-fry just fish sauce (and perhaps a tiny bit of palm sugar) to taste. However, chances are the Pad Ka-Prao which you have fallen in love with isn’t made by purists. So, in order to come up with a homemade version similar to what you’ve had at a street food stall or restaurant, you’re going to need soy sauce and oyster sauce. Your call.]

You don’t need to add shallots, if you don’t want to. Many recipes don’t call for them.
I like shallots in my Pad Ka-Prao, though.

4.9 from 10 reviews
Pad Ka-Prao (ผัดกะเพรา)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish, Entree
Cuisine: Thai, Asian
Serves: 2
  • 1 pound of ground pork, beef, or chicken (You can do what I do here which is chop up 1 pound of skinless chicken breasts with a cleaver. You get better texture that way.)
  • 7 (26g) large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 7 (16g) bird’s eye chilies (or however many you can tolerate)
  • 1 large shallot (20g), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons thin/light soy sauce or seasoning sauce (such as Golden Mountain aka "the Green Cap" sauce")
  • 1 tablespoon dark sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 cup holy basil leaves, packed
  1. If you have a mortar, pound together the garlic, chilies, and shallot until you get a coarse paste. If no mortar, either chop them all up with a cleaver on a chopping block or pulse them into a coarse paste in a mini-chopper.
  2. In a skillet, heat up the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the paste to it and fry until fragrant.
  3. Add the meat to the skillet and break it up with the spatula into small pieces.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients (except the basil leaves), correcting seasoning as needed. [I don't like sugar in my Pad Ka-Prao; besides, the dark sweet soy sauce provides enough sweetness for me. But if you think you'd like it even sweeter, either add about a teaspoon of palm or brown sugar or double the amount of dark sweet soy sauce (which will also make the end product darker in color). Purists, as mentioned in the post, won't even use anything for salinity other than fish sauce.]
  5. Once the meat is cooked through, check the amount of liquid in the skillet. If it’s too dry, add a little bit of water or sodium-free broth.
  6. Before taking the skillet off the heat, add the basil leaves to the mixture and give it a couple of stirs. We only want to wilt the basil with the residual heat that is still in the pan so as not to mute the fragrance of the fresh holy basil leaves.
  7. Serve over rice. A Thai-style crispy fried egg on top and a tiny bowl of nam-pla prik would be nice.


[1] And if holy basil also happened to be linguistically-inclined, it would have something else to say as well. But that’s for another post.

109 Responses to Pad Ka-Prao (ผัดกะเพรา)

  1. mycookinghut July 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    I want to eat this now!!! Looks very appetising!

  2. LimeCake July 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    This is one of my favourite Thai dishes. I usually use just fish sauce and sometimes slivers of red bell pepper. And it certainly isn’t complete without the fried egg with crispy edges. Yum!

  3. Michael July 27, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    Oh, I’ve been exposed! Now all my friends will know that I’m not using the “real” basil for Phad Graprao. Here in Seattle it’s very easy to get purple basil. When I go to LA next month for my annual pilgrimage to Thaitown, I’ll check to see if the have the “real” basil and report back to you.

    The challenges of living overseas and getting the correct ingredients is something. Could you imagine using dried basil from the spice counter at your local grocery because you have neither the purple nor bai horapha available?

    I must agree, the only type of fried egg for stir fried basil is one that has been cracked and poured into 1000 degree oil to give it a crunchy and crispy bottom and edge. That’s the “real” fried egg if you ask me: poofy fried egg Thai style!

    • ben July 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

      Seattle has the basil pictured above. Lam’s, the southern Viet Wah, and Minh Tam’s Deli = places you can get it sometimes. Seems more prevalent in the summertime. Look at the picture above, then look for it at Lam’s, where I think it’s called hot basil.

  4. Eva July 27, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    I just stumbled upon your blog for the first time, what a great resource!

  5. sunboopoo August 3, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    I made this recipe tonight and it was very tasty! I’ve been looking for this recipe and so glad I found your site. This is super easy and fast to make! Thanks for sharing =)

  6. sundevilpeg August 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    Lovelovelove your recipe -= people, once you try kecap manis in your Ka Prao, you will NEVER go back. I’m making this again tonight, in fact. Thanks a MILLION!

  7. Anonymous November 12, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    I cannot wait to try this recipe. I ran across your blog while looking for a recipe for Pad KaPrao. I don’t think I got the dish right, because it looks nothing like what I ate, but it does look like a delicious appetizer I once had. Thanks!

  8. Admin November 12, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    Anon – If you’ve had this dish at most Thai restaurants in the US, it’s very likely that what you’ve seen looks different from this. They’re really into adding a lot of bell peppers and onions to it.

    That’s not the case in Thailand. They often add fresh red chilies, sliced diagonally lengthwise, in addition to what’s in the paste. But the general appearance doesn’t deviate much from what you see here.

  9. Jean-François Lussier December 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    I found some holy basil at the asian market this week and made my first true Pad Kaprao last night (as opposed to Pad Bai Horapha). I topped it with a fried egg for the first time too, which adds another dimension to the dish in terms of both look and taste. I don’t think I will ever serve it without the eggs ever again. I found that holy basil is less aromatic than sweet basil, but offers more texture, which I enjoyed a lot. I like how your recipe asks for as much chilies as one can tolerate, because, with this dish, hotter = better.

    Regarding the comment above, onions and bell peppers everywhere are the scourge of North American asian restaurants (not just Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and others also). I really don’t understand where that comes from. Onions are cheap, but bell peppers get pretty expensive when out of season, so it’s not just a way to make the dishes cheaper to fix.

  10. khingr8 January 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Aww lucky you, Leela and those who have easy access to, the one and only, fresh Holy Basil!! I’m so jealous. I haven’t had the real Pad Ka-prao for so long, a decade ago. Guess I’m going to dream about it tonight Y_Y…

    ps. love your blog!!

  11. Belle February 16, 2012 at 10:23 am #


    Does the shallot garlic chili paste keep well? I hate dealing with garlic and would prefer to make a large batch.

  12. Admin February 16, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Belle – I hear you. The paste keeps fairly well in the freezer when stored in a small freezer bag or an airtight container. It, of course, becomes less potent and more so over time. Not any more than prepared curry pastes, though.

  13. the marmalade February 24, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    I’ve been searching for a while, trying to find the best recipe for this dish and yours seems really promising. I’ve had a lot of success with Kasma Loha-unchit’s (her website is awesome) recipe and it’s interesting to see how wildly different some of the recipes out there are. I just got a mortar and pestle, kecap manis, and dried holy basil so I might give yours a shot.

    Yours seems saucier than a lot of what I’ve seen. I usually just use 2T fish sauce and 2t soy. Does having 5T of combined sauces make it come out a tad salty? I’m hesitant about the oyster sauce as well (mainly because I don’t care for its taste). I like to try recipes as-written before modifying them, but I’m afraid to change from my tried-and-true recipe 🙁 I already plan on doubling the garlic and peppers though.

    How do you get the fried egg like that? Just use a separate pan with a lot of oil?

    Anyway, your blog is great! Thanks for all the awesome recipes and wonderfully-written articles!

  14. Admin February 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    the marmalade – Thank you!

    Salty is subjective. A recipe developed by someone who has a habit of eating one spoonful of a dish with 2-3 spoonfuls of rice will usually be a little more salty than that developed by someone who eats one spoonful of the same dish with one spoonful of rice. (One of these days, I’m going to write a blog post on that.) In the meantime, it’s best to go with your gut feeling. Start out with less is always best as you can always add more later.

    Oyster sauce is optional. As I said in the post, some people don’t even use it.

    Yep, the egg is fried separately in a one-inch pool of oil over medium-high heat. What I usually do is fry the egg first, set it aside, then use the same pan to make the PKP with leftover oil.

  15. Eric May 8, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    I just finished eating this for dinner and…oh my. So, so good.

    One thing about the recipe — step 4 says “Add the remaining ingredients…” I think it should say “except the holy basil” or something along those lines. If you read through the recipe, this is obvious, but it still could get confusing (especially for a hurried cook!).



  16. Admin May 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Eric – Good catch! Fixed now. Thanks, Eric.

  17. hannah125 May 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Mmmm one of my favorites, I cannot wait to try and make it at home- thank you!!! 🙂 xxx

  18. Bville Yellow Dog May 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I have had good luck buying Thai and Holy basil seeds on-line. Try both Amazon and Google Shopping.

  19. Admin May 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    BYD – Will do. Thank you.

  20. Anayokari May 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    This looks so good, I really want to try it! But do you have any thoughts on wether it is possible to add some veggies/have some veggies on the side without ruining the dish? Meat, especially chicken, is so expensive here, I can’t justify eating a meal with only that and rice!

  21. Admin May 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Anayokari – It’s not a traditional practice to add vegetables to this dish. However, this doesn’t mean it cannot be done to serve your particular purpose. Several Thai restaurants in the US add thinly-sliced (or julienned) carrots as well as a ton of red or green bell peppers (cut into thin slices). If I were in your situation, I might be inclined to add some bamboo shoots or sliced zucchini — something mild. Purple eggplants may be nice in this as well. I don’t see strong-flavored vegetables like broccoli, bitter melons, or Brussels sprouts in this at all, though.

  22. luvwtr May 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    I am a decent gardener but having a tough time growing holy basil. My seeds sprout and then stop growing. These two perfect little green leaves just sit there staring up at me every day. I think this stuff is possessed.

    • me January 21, 2013 at 6:30 am #

      Luvwtr- with my expierence in growing all basils is that they stay little sprouts tor a goood while then eventually begin to grow just make sure to start the seeds as soon as soil can be worked in spring and by the end of season you’ll have way to much you dono what to do with it..also begin transplantes before spring is helpful
      I cant find dark or sweet dark soy anywhere..alt?
      ive read else where people adding sugar to the soy but doesn’t seem appealing to me..sugar.
      love pad ma prao though and yes at the restaurant its like you say chocked full of bell peps and onions..

      • Leela January 21, 2013 at 7:54 am #

        If you can’t find soy sauce, go the traditional route: use only fish sauce.

  23. Admin May 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    luvwtr – I’ll try planting holy basil this year to see if it can be exorcised.

  24. Finding Mr Lazy May 9, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    this is comfort food!

    interesting to see indonesian ingredient (kecap manis) finding its way into a thai recipe 🙂

    you should try vietnamese Phu Quoc nuoc mam too

  25. Andy May 9, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    Love love love pad ka-prow! We also have been discussing the difficulty of getting bai ka-prow in Melbourne, Australia and having to use western basil (not bai horapa) in its place. Bai ka-prow is flown in from Darwin but doesn’t travel well and is usually worse for wear by the time it arrives on the shelves. Another point of discussion is the use of snake beans in this dish which seems quite common in Bangkok.

    I’m not sure of your rules on posting links in comments but our discussion on my blog ‘krapow’ can be found here ( Please delete the link if it contravenes you blog rules.

  26. Eric May 10, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    For anyone in the Pacific Northwest, Minter’s Earlington Greenhouse has holy basil and Thai basil:

  27. Serfie May 11, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    I consider Pad Ka-prow the national dish of Thailand.

    Pad Thai, Tom Yam Kung and Gaeng Kio Wan be damned.

    I have had it every which way in Thailand, but have never had it in America.

    I don’t think I have ever had it the same style.

    Every cook does it different and it really hard to screw it up.

    The best Pad Ka-prao I ate was made by a lady who owned a stall in front of her townhouse.

    It was so addicting that I ate it everyday, sometimes twice a day.

    I think she put crack in her Pad Ka-Prow.

    My preference for my Pa Ka-prow is to eat it with button mushrooms and green beans, which I think is fairly common in Thailand.

    I’m drooling just thinking about it.

    I’ve been trying to grow some Holy Basil at home and it is not easy to grow.

    I miss Pad Krapao so much that I have started growing Thai chilies and Holy Basil just so I can eat it again and eat it as much as I want.

    My biggest concern is the California terroir will screw up my Thai herb and chili garden.

  28. Admin May 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Serfie – Are you saying you like to eat Pad Ka-prao with button mushroom and green beans which are common ingredients in Thailand or are you saying that putting put button mushrooms and green beans in PKP is a common practice in Thailand? Curious as I’ve never once seen PKP with mushrooms and green beans in Thailand.

  29. Serfie May 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm #


    In the Thai context (not the American context because that takes Thai food in an entirely different direction), I think it is common to eat PKP with mushrooms and green beans, though you have to order it that way specifically or you will just get the mince and the holy basil.

    However, I think it was common on the street to be presented that way in the chafing dishes, and in many high end restaurants they serve it that way also.

    Quite honestly, I consider you the expert and defer myself you on the topic of Thai food, but I’m surprised you haven’t eaten it this way.

    I think you should try it with the mushrooms and green beans though, because it really brings out the umami and gives the dish an interesting texture.

  30. Admin May 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Serfie – I’m speaking from my experience eating in Thailand. I’ve seen Pad Bai Horapha or Pad Pet made that way, but not Pad Ka Prao. And I know you must be speaking from your own experience as well, so the only fair conclusion is that we must be eating at different places.

    I’ll try your suggestion to see what interesting texture and flavor green beans and mushrooms bring to the dish. Having said that, I still stand by my opinion that the most traditional and common version of PKP do not feature these vegetables as its ingredients.

    Folks, you guys want to weigh in on this?

    • Shurikn August 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      I have to say that I just came back from Thailand a few days ago and that there was very small pieces of green beans in my PKP almost each time I ordered it in Bangkok on the street but never in a restaurant.

  31. Anonymous May 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Hmm I’ve only been to Thailand twice so I am not going to chime in on the discussion. But what strikes me as odd is Serfie’s comment about how he always has to ask the cooks to put green beans and mushrooms into his pad krapow otherwise they won’t do that and he gets nothing but the meat.

    That sounds to me like he’s asking them to do something that is not commonly done in Thailand.

    Just my two cents.

    Pete M.

  32. chrisjone May 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    Serfie, can you name the high end Thai restaurants that put mushrooms and green beans in their phat krapow to bring out the umami? I’d like to be able to shame them publicly and tell everyone to avoid them like a plague, like a bad, bad plague.


  33. Jasmine May 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    There’s a Thai restaurant in Dallas where my coworkers and I frequent that puts a shit ton bamboo shoots and green bell peppers in their basil chicken. One of my coworkers who is Thai always asks the server to make it Thai style, meaning nothing but meat and basil which they comply. I think that says something about how the dish is commonly made in Thailand even though I have never been there.

  34. JOOK May 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    Okay, I’ll weigh in. I think what Serfie refers to is the kind of pretentious pad kapow that you can get from high end cafes like Grey Hound or Kalaprapruek. These restaurants have to justify their price by making a common street food like pad kapow different. I don’t think it’s fair to say that these gentrified versions represent how the dish is made.

  35. JOOK May 11, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    I forgot to say that I agree with Pete M. Serfie, you contradict yourself.

  36. Than May 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Yeah, I have seen mushrooms, green beans, baby corn, corn kernels, carrots, bean curd, and many more in pad kaprao. You can put anything you like in it. At home I clean out my fridge that way. Just put whatever odds and ends in the wok. But I’m afraid saying that what I do is a common way to make pad kaprao is like saying that putting salmon in pad thai, which I do, is common. It’s not.

    By the way, Serfie, a dish that’s made in a wok like this, in my opinion, is far from the national dish status. Nam prik gapi is more like it, if you ask me.

  37. Serfie May 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Wow, I didn’t expect people to freak out about this.

    People are emotional about Thai food, but I don’t think it would cause the insults to start flying.

    The way that Leela described the dish is obviously the universal base dish. And people make it differently, which is what I wrote, if people had bothered to read my original post.

    However, in terms of it being “gentrified”(if that is even a word to describe food) I have seen it most commonly changed to the dish I described, and I am sticking to my guns.

    Why the heck would I eat the dish like that if I hadn’t ate it somewhere else already?

    Do you think I just made it up because I was having delusions?

    And why would I continue to eat the dish the same way if it wasn’t universally available?

    I wasn’t continually telling cooks at canteens to cut up green beans and mushrooms and add into their chafing dishes.

    In the final analysis, people won’t believe me and believe what they want, anyway.

    It is probably my bad karma coming back to bite me for thinking the guy who said there was no peanuts in Panang curry was crazy.

  38. Jennifer May 13, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    On finding holy basil seeds, Kitazawa seems to have both holy and sweet, as well as lemon basil seeds. They’re the best resource for Asian seeds I’ve found, though they focus more on Japanese and Chinese varietals than other regions.

  39. Admin May 13, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Jennifer – Thank you!

  40. theasiangrandmotherscookbook May 18, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    Chicken breast, Leela, really? I thought we SE Asians prefer dark meat? 🙂 I’m curious that you use kecap manis instead of black soy sauce. Kecap manis is a little sweeter I think but why not palm sugar instead? I have a recipe on my blog that’s slightly different but I’m sure there are as many “authentic” versions of this dish as there are grandmothers!

  41. Mattias Wallergård May 23, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Cooked this dish for my wife tonight – and she loved it! (even though I didn’t use holy basil since it’s very hard to find in Sweden…). Thank you for one of the best blogs out there!

  42. Nicole May 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    I love this dish! (and also pad bai horapha, which is much, much more likely in the US). I prefer it with pork, but in a pinch I’ve even replaced the meat with french green lentils (the kind that keep their shape), and it was almost as good. I didn’t realize that the chili/garlic paste also contained shallots – I’ve been following another recipe that didn’t call for that but will have to add shallots next time. I love your site – thanks for sharing your expertise!

  43. Admin May 25, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Nicole – Thank you! You don’t have to add the shallots. It’s something that’s always been done in my family, but most people, it seems, don’t add them to the paste.

  44. Todd June 22, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Made this last night- SO FANTASTIC!!!! I had never tried holy basil before- what a different taste from regular/Thai basil- & the sweet soy sauce too- New discoveries. We made them into lettuce wraps with a little jasmine rice- delicious for a warm nights meal. Only used 5 chilis & that was pretty warm- but not so much to burn the palate. Just right. Thank you!!!!

  45. sundevilpeg August 29, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    Now chowing down on a big bowl of this fabulous melange, made better by home-grown basil, shallots, garlic, and Thai chiles. GREAT summer here in Chicago for growing chiles and basil of all kinds, and I’m reaping the benefits tonight!

    Off to Madison WI this long weekend, for Badger football, the wonderful Dane Co. farmers market, and multiple meals of Laotian food. Lao Laan Xang is my mainstay; highly recommended if you get up to Mad City. There are many, many excellent SE Asian restaurants in the area of all ethnicities, and that gigantic farmers market is a revelation for lovers of Asian produce that is just not available in Chicago.

  46. Mike M September 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    I’ve been trying to grow some Holy Basil at home and it is not easy to grow. –Serfie

    Personally, I just started some holy basil for the fall and hopefully to bring indoors to make the Midwest winter bearable. The seeds came up right away (bought them online from a grower in Illinois) and are nearing the transplant stage. They were about as easy as plain basil, just the seeds are much smaller and will blow away in a slight breeze or a sneeze. I barely covered the seeds with seed starting medium and kept moist. Sprouted in four or five days. Have the first set of true leaves.

    We have about seven different basil varieties growing in our garden and Thai and holy are the most flavorful (but don’t translate well in Italian dishes!). I love basil chicken and hope to have it through the winter, thanks to some careful planning and, hopefully, successful gardening!

  47. Nanya September 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Leela, I saw PKP with green beans (ถั่วฝักยาว) before and not in high end restaurants. Normally in canteen food found at universities or highschools and it is premade. For street food that you get by ordering, some street vendors put the green beans in so they can keep it low cost. I would say about 1/5 of the street vendors in Thailand do that. So, Serfie is not wrong in saying that it’s also common to add green beans to Pad Kaprao in Thailand.

    For me, I prefer the one with just meat, especially beef. Yumyum.

    Some American grocery stores sell basil that is resemble Kaprao than Horapa. So I normally use that one instead.

    • Leela September 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

      Thanks, Nanya. Now that I think about it, I’ve seen the version with green beans on the streets as well but, in my mind, labeled it “pad phet” with ground meat and vegetable instead of PKP with added green beans (you know how not everything that has basil and chili in it is PKP).

      In retrospect, I’ve only eaten PKP at a made-to-order place or a home, and these places, as you’ve implied, hardly ever resort to using a cheap vegetable to boost volume and cut the cost when it comes to this dish.

  48. Liz September 15, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    I’ve made this recipe at least 10 times. It’s so good. Your recipes are so reliable, Leela. That’s what I love about your site (among other things).

  49. Rickey October 17, 2012 at 4:05 am #

    It is ผัดกระเพรา not ผัดกะเพรา

    • Leela October 17, 2012 at 4:20 am #

      I disagree. Here’s the entry from the Royal Institute lexicon, 1999 edition.

      กะเพรา [-เพฺรา] น. ชื่อไม้ล้มลุกชนิด Ocimum tenuiflorum L. ในวงศ์
      Labiatae กลิ่นฉุน ใช้ปรุงอาหาร พันธุ์ที่กิ่งและก้านใบสีเขียว
      อมแดงเรียก กะเพราแดง ใช้ทํายาได้, พายัพเรียก กอมก้อ.

      Your reference?

    • Pink January 27, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      Rickey, how many years have you been misspelling กะเพรา?

    • Joy January 8, 2014 at 5:37 am #

      I think Thai street cooks and restaurants are to blame for Rickey’s inability to spell the word correctly as more than half the time ผัดกะเพรา is spelled incorrectly. So I consider him a clueless victim.

      Now, as to who or what is to blame for his inability to resist an urge to try to correct others in a condescending manner without the right information, I don’t know. Regardless, this is pretty embarrassing.

  50. Jinda October 21, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Rickey is an example of many Thais who think they know how to spell a word according to what they have seen without bothering to find out if it’s correct. I have many students in my Thai reading class who insist on spelling some words incorrectly because their parents spell them that way. It’s tragic.

  51. Gian October 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    This looks absolutely delicious…

  52. Ramin November 9, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Curious… why do you choose to use kecap manis? 🙂

    • Leela November 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

      It’s just an equivalent to Thai sweet dark soy sauce which some readers can’t find in their areas. As stated in the post, some people don’t use it.

  53. Pravit December 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Great recipe, Leela. I prefer to hand chop my meat the way my mother always did. It’s better than ground meat from the supermarket.

    To Ricky above: dude, learn how to spell. If you’re a Thai, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  54. Bridget January 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Ooooooh I can’t wait to try this! I grew some regular Thai Basil last summer, but couldn’t find any Holy Basil — I’ll have to look again or find some seeds. I have a question for you though about ingredients. I found an amazing Asian grocery not too far from where I live (felt like a kid in a candy store) where I finally found Thai dark soy sauce. The problem was there were no less than four (may have been five) different varieties of it (all Healthy Boy brand), with different colored labels. It had vague descriptions like “made in the traditional style” and “made in the classic style”. The one I chose has an overwhelming amount (to me at least) of molasses in it. Can you recommend a good dark soy for me?

    • Leela January 4, 2013 at 4:22 am #

      Bridget, the one you bought is sweet dark soy which is also used in the recipe, so you didn’t waste money (you can also use it to make pad see-ew). For dark soy, I usually use Golden Mountain that comes with a green plastic cap (far right bottle in the fourth picture from the top in this post:

      • Bridget January 4, 2013 at 10:08 am #

        Thanks so much for the response! I have some Golden Mountain sauce, and can’t wait to try this (along with a BUNCH of other recipes on your site!)

  55. Gill January 12, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    Leela…yours is the true Thai recipe… any green beans are eaten on the side, raw, along with anything else cooling, like cucumber etc….. Mushrooms – no…. small raw cloves of garlic are commonly eaten with this dish on the side, but no other ingredients are added to your recipe. It’s a great dish as is and doesn’t need to be changed in any way at all… have fun with the raw, sides, instead.

  56. James Morris February 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    If only holy basil wasn’t impossible to find in London…

    • Leela February 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

      A Thai grocery store in London reportedly has it. Alternatively, you can do what people in the colder states in the US do: grow your own indoors.

    • Robin Grocott May 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

      James, I got lucky and spotted some in New Loon Moon supermarket in Chinatown this week. I hadn’t seen any for a couple of years, so was very excited! Second PKP in two days being prepped for dinner tonight 🙂

      It may be the kind of thing where you have to be able to shop during the week, not at the weekend. I often find the range and quality of the fresh goods in Chinatown are better on weekdays, if I have a day off to go shopping. For reference, I got mine on Thursday and they had loads, all in very good shape too, not the sad bags of compost you sometimes see 🙂

      If you aren’t using it all immediately, I recommend unpacking it as soon as you get home, removing any leaves which are turning bad, and repacking it lightly wrapped in kitchen paper in a ziploc bag. Rotten leaves can quickly destroy the whole bunch, so I’d do this every day to make it last as long as possible.

      Good luck!

  57. Heide M. February 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    I’ll have to try this.

  58. Craig Cruden March 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    The recipe looks fairly close to what I eat 3-4 times a week for breakfast. There are so many slight variations but the best is actually made right out the front door of my condo….. which is great. For such a simple recipe, this dish is one of the best. Most commonly chicken and pork is chopped finely (i.e. ground), but beef tends to be just sliced…. Although I don’t eat much beef with the exception of this recipe I prefer the beef variety. The variation I am use to does not use the sweet soy sauce (but it does have a little sugar), one day (when I am not lazy) I will give your variation (ever so slight) a try.

    As far as “purists” go, I find those people funny since at what point do you have the cutoff with regards to which ingredients to use. Thais have constantly been exposed to new ingredients which they incorporate in a way that matches their flavour profile. Chilis (which are synonymous with Thai cooking) was only introduced to Thailand a couple hundred years ago by the Portugese (native to the Americas). Pad Thai only really came into existence around 70 years ago – through a competition to replace “Chinese” fried noodles during one of the more nationalist periods. Tom Yum Goong (soup) was typically a much simpler soup than a lot of varieties now….. There is only one constant, and that is things change…. cuisines do not exist in a vacuum.

  59. FC March 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your recipe. I finally know how to make good Pad Ka-Prao. Your blog is brilliant!

  60. Sun Lee April 25, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    This is one of my daughters’ favorite dishes. I have tried to replicate it in the past — without much success — until I tried your recipe. Now, I make it all the time for my daughters (I just omit the chilies), otherwise I follow the recipe pretty faithfully. The whole family LOVES IT!

  61. Martin May 2, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Frying the egg first and setting it aside… my only complaint about how it’s done in Thailand. Sometimes those eggs sit there such a long and lonely time.

    Leela, an erudite blog is such a refreshing change. Do you send grammatically perfect text messages too?

    • Craig Cruden May 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      I think you were probably going to the wrong places for it then. Most “made to order” places (at least the ones I have been too), fry the egg after you order — usually they fry the egg – set it aside then in the same wok – fry the pat grapow – then serve. I do see them sitting around in larger settings – especially if they fry up food ahead of time and place it in trays. This may be great for curries, but for most other items – it is just better to find a local cart that does “made to order” that may have a table and a few chairs (and does a fairly brisk business).

  62. Michael Hoffman July 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    While I was visiting my son in Bangkok, I learned of this dish. The woman whom prepared his owned a restaurant in her carport. She tossed in the peppers into the minced meat just prior to adding the basil and serving. Its wonderful. Upon my sons return from his trip he frequently asks me to make this. This recipe is spot on and is very good.

  63. Paul Finch August 21, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    I have this for breakfast everyday whilst i’m in Thailand off a street food cart !! Fantastic way to start the day when they finally agree to cook it Thai rather than felang and add the chillies……

  64. Lindsey October 11, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Would any of the brands of prepared jarred chili paste work for this? This kitchen had a “roasted red chili paste” that sounded promising? Thanks!

    • Leela October 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

      Lindsey – The product that’s usually labeled “roasted red chili paste” is nam prik pao, aka Thai (roasted) chili jam, which is never used in this particular dish (and I don’t think will improve it).

      I’m not sure what ingredient(s) in the recipe you’re trying to replace with roasted chili paste. Are you having trouble finding the soy sauces, fish sauce, and oyster sauce? I figure any place that carries roasted chili paste should also carry those products. The dark sweet soy may be a little harder to find at a non-Asian store, but you can leave that out and double the amount of oyster sauce plus maybe a packed teaspoon of dark brown sugar. If holy basil is the issue, then use Thai sweet basil or Mediterranean sweet basil; it will be different and requires that you call it by a different name (discussed here), but it will work in a pinch.

      But if the issue is that you don’t want to make this from scratch at all or want to reduce the number of fresh ingredients in this recipe by using a ready-made jarred sauce, then you need to seek out ready-made pad kaprao paste (which can be found at many well stocked Southeast Asian supermarkets), forget this recipe, and follow the recipe on the label (because these ready-made sauces already comes with all the seasoning ingredients).

      Not sure if this adequately answers your question, but hope it helps some.

  65. Jonas October 29, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this recipe Leela!

    I had it once prepared by a Thai chef (who lived in Bali) and he served it with lettuce / cabbage to wrap it which was awesome, not sure if that way of serving it has another name.

    Tonight I made the Beef version came out pretty good, but definitely prefer it with chicken or pork (best). Only changes I would make next time is to leave out the soy sauce(s) which I think make it too salty and instead add the juice of a lime.

    • Leela October 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

      Jonas – I’m convinced (based on the reference to the lettuce, cabbage and your comment on this recipe being too salty with the soy sauce and in need of lime juice) that you’ve had this dish confused with laab which is a salad and not a stir-fry like this one and has a completely different flavor profile. With Pad Ka-prao, you will never add lime juice to it.

  66. Karen January 8, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    I am so happy to have found your blog. I love Thai food, but have had difficulty finding good recipes. The fact that you cover some of the more basic ingredients is awesome, and will help me as I navigate the Asian market and all the labels I can’t read. Thank you!

  67. Bart De Pauw February 9, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    Hi Leela,
    I want to ask if its possible to make in advance the ‘chili-basil stir fry oil’ ?
    Here in Belgium (Antwerp) we have a lot of thai shops, and they have the thai hot basil.
    Do you know if there is a way to make a kind of paste (from the fresh ingredients), so that you can just stirfry the paste, and then add the chicken ?
    I buy the thai hot basil, but sometimes i don’t use it immediately. So, after a few days, the basil is not good anymore…

    • Leela February 10, 2014 at 8:55 am #

      BDP – I know exactly the problem you’re having, because I have dealt with the dearth of fresh holy basil in my area for years, and I have, in fact, experimented with making the paste you’re referring to. I didn’t like how it turned out very much. It reminded me of why I don’t like the commercial basil paste. Once cooked, the holy basil has given up all of its essential oil allowing you just a small window of opportunity to enjoy it while the dish is still freshly made. Once reheated (or cooked a second time which is the idea of the pre-made sauce), all that’s left some limp, oxidized leaves that were once fragrant and they end up looking, tasting, and smelling very similar to fresh basil that has been stored in the fridge too long. This means we’re back to the same problem.

      In this case, I recommend the lesser of 2 evils: use fresh Thai sweet purple basil (which should be easier to find in Antwerp) and call the dish pad bai hora-pha or use Italian basil — the kind you use to make pesto — which is not the same as Thai basil but, in my opinion, better than stale, oxidized, previously-cooked Thai basil.

  68. nierajp February 14, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    Thank you so much for your delicious recipe. My first attempt was a huge success :p

  69. Kylene March 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Do you have any recommendations on the best place to purchase holy basil? Willing to make it inside at home, but have found that some of the seed packets aren’t as good as others. Any thoughts on the best place to buy fresh, dried, or seeds for planting would be wonderful. Love you blog. Thank you!

  70. FoodGeekGraze April 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    i have made many of your dishes and they are now an invaluable part of my kitchen world. not only thank you for that, but the respectful and insightful way you share “authentic” vs “most commonly found” and backstory details are all priceless shares!!!!!!! you make me so very happy 🙂 cheers~

  71. Liz May 11, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    Im sure i sound really foolish..but i need the answer asap since i plan to make this dish for dinner the dark sweet soy sauce in the ingredients the same as thai black soy sauce or the thai sweet soy sauce?

  72. Q June 20, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    I just thought I’d let you know that I have been waiting to make this for well over a year and finally got it done tonight. I ended up growing my own Holy Basil in the garden. I now have I think 6 different basils growing in the garden because nobody seems to truly know the difference. Well except for me now! Hah. Anyway thanks for the awesomeness.

  73. Janinesd June 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    I love this recipe. I have made it 4-5 times. I use thai basil. Your blog inspired me to stop ordering thai take-out (which there aren’t any good places very close by) and cook myself. Thank you for sharing your recipes. I would love a choo chee shrimp recipe.


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