On Facebook, Speedy re-shared that Saveur page with the 55 Great Global Food Blogs and it made me re-visit some of the blogs on the list including Leela’s She Simmers where I found a recipe for a stir fried dish that, according to Thai Airways Magazine is “fourth among the ten Thai dishes ordered most frequently by foreigners“. Called phat khaprao (or pad ka-prao), it is a very simple stir fry that consists of minced meat (or seafood) seasoned with fish sauce, soy sauce and a bit of sugar. But what really gives the dish its unique flavor is the addition of holy basil. Amazing how the basil adds so much flavor and aroma. Fortunately for me, my Holy basil is still growing in the garden and on that basis I decided what lunch today was going to be.
Authentic phat kaphrao begins with minced raw meat or seafood. But since I have minced cooked pork in the fridge (taken from scrap bones after the last time I made a huge batch of broth), I decided to use what I had. Note that if you’re using raw meat or seafood, the cooking time will be a bit longer and you’ll have to cook the meat or seafood ahead of all the other ingredients. When the meat or seafood is done, just add the ingredients for sautéing and proceed as below.
Authentic phat kaphrao also requires that the shallots, garlic and chilis be pounded into a paste before sautéing. I dispensed with that part because I wasn’t aiming for authenticity anyway — just good food.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup cooked minced meat
- 1 red onion or 2 shallots chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 bird’s eye chilis finely sliced
- 1 kaffir lime leaf thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon patis (fish sauce), or to taste
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce or to taste
- 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice (kalamansi juice is fine)
- a generous pinch of sugar
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce or to taste
- a large handful of Holy basil leaves
Because this is a stir fry which cooks within minutes, prepare all the ingredients before you start with the actual cooking. Cut and slice all the vegetables and have them within easy reach.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan. Saute the onion, garlic, chilis and kaffir lime leaf (if using) just until fragrant, about 30 to 45 seconds.
Add the pork. Season with fish sauce, lemon or lime juice, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Stir fry just until the pork is heated through.
Add the basil leaves, stir a few times just until wilted.
Serve the phat kaphrao with rice and fried egg with extra fish sauce on the side.