Pad Ka-prao (recipe)

(This post is dedicated to someone very special to me, who is going through a really tough time. You know who you are, and the significance behind this dish will be pretty self-explanatory to you! Love you lots and hope this puts that gorgeous smile back on your face.) 

I know I’ve mentioned before in my post on Siam Central just how much I love Thai food. One of my favorite dishes that is really easy to replicate at home is pad ka-prao. Unlike many other Thai dishes, you don’t need a million and one ingredients for this, nor do you need an immense amount of skill to get this right. It’s basically minced meat that is stir-fried with Thai basil (holy basil) and chilli, and it sounds simple because it is simple, but it’s so incredibly good.

I cannot make any claims for the authenticity of this recipe, so I mean no disrespect to my Thai friends, but this does taste just like every pad ka-prao I’ve had in Thailand, I promise you that!

  • 500g minced meat – You can use any type of meat and I usually use pork but I have used minced chicken here for the benefit of all Muslim friends and other non-pork eaters
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced – I didn’t have any on this particular occasion
  • 6 chillis, sliced - I usually use a lot more but I was making this for a very English friend who can’t handle too much spice
  • 1.5tbsps fish sauce
  • 2tsps brown sugar – Palm sugar is traditional but I don’t usually have any. White sugar is also fine. 
  • 1tsp kicap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • white pepper to taste
  • 1 large bunch of Thai basil leaves, plucked off the stems
Just a quick note on some of the ingredients before we begin!
You can use any type of chilli you want. I always use chilli padi, aka bird’s eye chilli, as these are spicier. I used a combination of red and green in anticipation of the Christmas season! :D :D :D
Or, if you’re a boy, remember it’s just as important to wash your hands before you pee as it is after, or NO FATHERS’ DAY FOR YOU!!! Only joking. (Sort of.) This warning comes courtesy of one of my friends, who will never live this down. True story.
Kicap manis is a thick, sweet soy sauce that is used a lot in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia.
Thai basil is very different from regular basil, so whatever you do, DO NOT try to substitute regular basil here as it won’t work. If you don’t have them, don’t bother making this dish at all, as the Thai basil is what makes this. Thankfully, you don’t need to go to an Asian supermarket to get some. I got mine at Waitrose!
STEP 1: Combine fish sauce, brown sugar, kicap manis and white pepper in a little bowl.
STEP 2: Heat some oil in a frying pan/wok. Once it’s hot, fry the garlic, chilli and shallot.
STEP 3: Once it is softened and fragrant (but not browned), throw in your minced meat, which will look very gross at first. But just break the meat up and fry over medium-high heat until no longer pink, about 5-7mins.
STEP 4: Then, drizzle in the seasoning mixture from STEP 1, mix altogether and continue to cook for about 2mins.
STEP 5: Add in the Thai basil leaves and stir through so that the heat gently wilts the leaves.


STEP 6: Pile it all into a plate and top off with an extra sprig of Thai basil. And… YOU’RE DONE!


This dish is usually eaten with plain white rice. Trust me, it is definitely flavorful enough for that. For those of you who love this dish as much as I do, please try making it on your own! As you can see, it’s really easy! And for those of you who don’t know this dish, definitely do give it a go if you like spicy food.
This is home-cooked food for the Southeast Asian palate. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t eat Peking duck, dimsum and sushi everyday, sorry to disappoint.

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