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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Thai basil chicken - pad kra pao gai (ผัดกระเพราไก่)

This Thai basil chicken recipe - pad kra pao gai (ผัดกระเพราไก่) is a true classic. It's one of the most popular Thai street food dishes. The chicken is stir fried with Thai holy basil, and traditionally served on top of rice with a crispy fried egg on the side!

No fried eggs for me thanks.  I’m English and what do fried eggs mean to us Brits?  Yup, breakfast, so no further explanation required.

Thai basil chicken is a dish I've been wanting to make at home for so long.  What's stopping you? I'm hearing right now.  Well, quite simply, the Basil!

Living in Spain is amazing but, one problem for ex-pat cooks is sourcing ingredients. Particularly for Asian dishes.  Made almost impossible when fresh, perishable foods are essential.

I was getting so fed up not being able to get my fix of Thai basil chicken I sent a message to our local Garden Centre for one last ditch attempt.  Because the owner is English and occasionally stocks plants not normally found in Spain, I assumed there may be a minimal chance it may be stocked.

Without much hope, I was elated to receive a reply confirming stocks of Thai Basil.  I felt like I had won the Lottery and sent Mr. Grumps to immediately purchase a plant.

It's doing well in our garden too and gives a regular supply of fresh leaves, how happy am I?

You may think this dish is going to be a very spicy dish due to the amount of garlic and chillies required.  Trust me when I say it's perfect so please don't adjust the recipe, you will regret it if you do.  Will you try it and come back to tell me you love it too?

Thai basil chicken recipe (pad kra pao gai - ผัดกระเพราไก่)
Makes 1 large or 2 smaller potions

1 chicken breast (or any other cut of boneless chicken, about 200 grams)
5 cloves of garlic
4 Thai chillies
1 tablespoon oil for frying
1 teaspoon of oyster sauce
½ teaspoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
1 splash of dark soy sauce
1 handful of Thai holy basil leaves
1 Crispy fried egg (optional)

Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces.

Rinse and peel the garlic and chillies, and pound them in a mortar and pestle (alternatively you can just mince them with a knife). They don't need to be super fine, you just want to bring out the oils and flavours from the garlic and chillies.

Pluck a good sized handful of holy basil leaves off the stems.

Now it's time to start cooking. Heat your wok on high heat, and add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan.

When the oil is hot, add the chillies and garlic. Stir fry them for about 20 seconds or so until they get really fragrant, but don't let them burn or get too dry.

Toss in your chicken. Keep stir frying continuously. At this stage you want to continue to stir and cook your chicken until it's just about fully cooked all the way through (depending on the size pieces of chicken and how hot your fire is, it should take about 2 - 3 minutes). If it starts to get dry, add just a tiny splash of water.

Add 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon light soy sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, and finally a splash of dark soy sauce. Keep stir frying for about another 30 seconds.

Grab a handful of holy basil, toss it into the pan, fold it into the chicken, and then immediately turn off the heat (if you're using an electric stove, you'll want to remove the pan from the burner). The holy basil really only needs to cook for about 5 seconds, and it will continue to wilt and cook from the existing heat of the chicken. This step is important because if you cook the basil for too long, it loses some of its glorious flavour and gets slightly chewy.

Recipe source Eating Thai Food


  1. 5 cloves of garlic and 4 chiles?! That sounds awesome!! Ha ha ha! Will definitely give this a try. I'm having a lovely time reading through your old posts on this rainy, miserable Monday morning :-)

    1. Hi Tekesha, glad I was able to cheer up your rainy morning. I've been complaining about the heat here. Do come back and comment if you try this dish and yes, it is awesome.

  2. Ohh that dish looks good on rice

    1. Thanks Raymund, let me know if you try this dish.

  3. Ok fine, I'll leave the 4 chills alone but I will tell you that I am SCARED! I love all the other flavors! Pinned.

    1. LOL Lindsey, trust me you think it's going to be sooooo hot but it's really not. It's a perfect blend of heat, spicing and flavour.

      I would love your thoughts once you've tried, please do come back and let me know.


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