The One Thai Dish You Must Try Before You Leave

Pad Krapao chicken | © Gnawme/Flickr
Pad Krapao chicken | © Gnawme/Flickr
Photo of Iona Proebst
27 November 2017

If there is one quintessential Thai dish that you should try before you go, it’s the hot, the flavourful and the bold Pad Krapao, otherwise known as Thai basil chicken. Pad Krapao is the cherry on top of any Thai culinary exploration, read on to find out why.

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 pork | © Jessica Spengler/Flickr

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.

Thai chillies | ©

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.

Take note

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.

Pad Krapao is easy to make and there are plenty of recipes online so you can recreate this delicious dish for your loved ones once you arrive back home.

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