Let us enlighten you about Pad Krapao. It might sound like a comedy action hero, and it’s not too far off as this unsung hero definitely packs a mouthwatering punch. Pad Krapao is an authentic Thai dish that literally translates to “basil stir-fry.” It is served with jasmine rice and is topped with a crispy oozing egg (kai dao) and lashing of condiments like fish sauce, vinegar and chilli.
Pad Krapao is a humble street food and a popular go-to lunch dish in Thailand. If you are unsure what to order the running joke is that you’ll likely go with a tasty plate of Pad Krapao. This dish is not for the faint-hearted as you’ll probably need to work up your spice tolerance before giving it a try.
What’s in it?
Pad Krapao’s ratio of effort versus oodles of flavour is a winning factor for most, with a mere 10 minute preparation time. Pad Krapao is usually made using chicken but is also made with pork, beef or seafood. For a vegetarian option, tofu is a great meat substitute. The other ingredients used to make Pad Krapao are; holy basil (krapao), oyster sauce, Thai dark soy sauce, coconut sugar, vegetable oil, garlic, birds eye chilli peppers (Thai chilli) and the all-important egg.
As the name implies the key ingredient of Pad Krapao is holy basil. Holy basil is different to its relatives, Italian sweet basil and Thai basil in that it’s aroma is comprised of camphor, cloves and menthol which give the Pad Krapao its distinctive taste. Holy basil can be difficult to find outside of Thailand unless you are in the grocery section of an Asian supermarket.
Another point worth mentioning is that Thai dark soy sauce is different to the more popular Japanese or Korean dark soy sauce options. Its consistency is thicker and it is infused with molasses and caramel notes whilst remaining savoury in flavour.