Discover the tantalizing flavors of Thai Basil Beef Stir-Fry (Pad Krapow), a quick and savory delight featuring tender beef, fragrant Thai basil, and a kick of spice! Ready in 30 minutes, it’s perfect for busy weeknights and for lovers of Thai cuisine.
If you’ve been following our blog for quite a while now, then you’d know that I love Thai cuisine! I love cooking and eating Thai food so much that I wrote a cookbook including so many of my favorite Thai dishes!
In fact, I have attended some cooking classes to learn how to make authentic Thai dishes. I absolutely love the layers of flavors you can experience in any Thai food. Our featured recipe for today is exactly that – an authentic Pad Kra Pow recipe from scratch!
Pad Krapow, otherwise known as Pad Kra Pao, is a much-loved stir-fry dish in Thailand that is just as delicious as it is easy to make. In fact, all you need is 30 minutes from start to finish to make this amazing dish!
This mouthwatering dish combines the aromatic essence of Thai basil with the rich umami of ground beef plus some spicy kick from red chilis. This simple Thai Basil meat stir-fry is a flavor explosion indeed!
In this blog post, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to create this delicious Thai basil beef meal, and even offer a twist for those who prefer an extra zing with ginger.
Why You’ll love this recipe!
You’ll fall in love with Thai Basil Beef Stir-Fry (Pad Krapow) for its perfect blend of succulent beef, aromatic Thai basil, and a harmonious mix of sweet and savory flavors. This dish is not only a breeze to prepare but also a culinary journey through the vibrant Thai cuisine that tantalizes your taste buds with each bite. Whether you’re a fan of Asian cuisine or seeking a quick, flavorful meal for busy weeknights, this dish is sure to satisfy your cravings and become a go-to favorite in your recipe repertoire.
If you’re looking to bring the authentic taste of Thailand to your kitchen, this is the perfect recipe to start with. Let’s get started!
- Cooking Oil (1 tbsp): The cooking oil serves as the base for stir-frying and helps prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pan. It also adds a subtle richness to the dish.
- Garlic (6 cloves, minced): Garlic brings a robust, aromatic flavor to the dish, infusing it with a pungent, slightly sweet taste that is a hallmark of many Thai dishes.
- Ginger (1 tbsp, optional): Ginger, if used, adds a delightful zing to the stir-fry. It contributes a mild spiciness and a fresh, invigorating aroma to the dish.
- Red Thai Chilies or Fresno Chili Peppers (2, deseeded and sliced): These vibrant peppers provide a moderate level of spiciness to the Pad Krapow. Deseeded and sliced, they offer both color and a gentle kick of heat.
- Ground Beef (1 lb): Ground beef is the main protein source for this dish, providing a rich, meaty flavor and a satisfying texture that complements the other ingredients.
- Water mixed with Oyster Sauce, Fish Sauce, and Sugar (¼ cup water, 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce, 1 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tbsp Sugar – adjust to taste): This mixture forms the savory, umami-rich sauce for the stir-fry. The oyster sauce adds depth and sweetness, the fish sauce contributes saltiness, and sugar provides balance, creating a delicious sauce to coat the ingredients.
- Thai Basil Leaves (1 ½ cups): Thai basil leaves are the star of the dish, infusing it with a distinctive, licorice-like aroma and a touch of spiciness. These aromatic leaves give Pad Krapow its signature flavor and fragrance.
Step 1: Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.
Step 2: Add the minced garlic and ginger (if using) to the pan. Sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
Step 3: Add the sliced Thai red chilis or Fresno chili peppers to the pan and stir-fry for another minute or just until they become slightly softened.
Step 4: Add the ground beef to the pan and cook it until it’s no longer pink, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes.
NOTE: Sometimes, I brown the beef first then add the garlic and chilies after as the above photo shows. You can do it however you want to. I also add some green onions, if I have them at hand. The latter is optional.
Step 5: In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup of water with 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Step 6: Pour the sauce mixture over the cooked beef and stir to combine. Let it simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.
Step 7: Finally, add the Thai basil leaves to the pan. Stir them in until they wilt and release their aromatic fragrance. This usually takes about 1-2 minutes.
Step 8: Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning with more sugar, fish sauce, or chili peppers to suit your preferences.
Step 9: Serve your Pad Gra Pow hot over a bed of steamed jasmine rice. Enjoy the vibrant flavors!
Tips and Tricks for Success
- When cooking Pad Gra Pow, it’s important to have all your ingredients ready as the cooking process is quite fast-paced.
- Adjust the sugar, fish sauce, and chili peppers to your desired level of sweetness, saltiness, and spiciness. Thai cuisine is all about balancing these flavors to your liking.
- If you’re looking to reduce the calorie content, you can use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, and you can use a cooking spray instead of cooking oil.
- For extra crunch, you can add some sliced bell peppers or green beans.
- Serve this with fried egg for an authentic Thai meal!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is Thai Basil, and can I substitute it with regular basil?
Thai basil has a distinct flavor that is slightly spicy and carries a hint of licorice. While regular basil can be used in a pinch, Thai basil’s unique taste really elevates the dish. If you can’t find Thai basil, try visiting an Asian market or growing your own for the most authentic Pad Gra Pow experience.
Can I use chicken or pork instead of beef?
Absolutely! Pad Gra Pow is incredibly versatile. You can use chicken, pork, or even tofu if you prefer a vegetarian option. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as different proteins require different cooking times.
How spicy is Pad Gra Pow with Thai red chilis or Fresno chili peppers?
A3: Fresno chili peppers add a moderate level of spiciness. If you love heat, you can leave the seeds in for an extra kick. If you prefer a milder flavor, remove the seeds and adjust the number of peppers to your liking.
Is Pad Krapow a gluten-free dish?
This recipe can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free oyster sauce and double-check the labels on the other sauces you use. Always make sure to use gluten-free certified products if you have dietary restrictions.
Can I prepare the sauce in advance?
Yes, you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. This can save you time when you’re ready to cook. Just be sure to keep it in an airtight container.
What is the best way to store Thai basil?
To keep your Thai basil fresh, trim the stems, place it in a jar with water (like cut flowers), and store it at room temperature. Alternatively, you can freeze Thai basil for later use. It’s a great way to ensure you always have some on hand.
Thai Basil Beef Stir-Fry (Pad Krapow)
- 1/4 cup Water
- 2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
- 6 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated Ginger optional
- 2 Red Thai Chilies or Fresno Chili Peppers deseeded and sliced
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 1/2 cups Thai Holy Basil Leaves
- Make the seasoning sauce ahead. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup of water with 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Adjust the sauce to taste, if desired.
- Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and ginger (if using) to the pan. Sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the sliced Thai red chilis or Fresno chili peppers to the pan and stir-fry for another minute.
- Add the ground beef to the pan and cook it until it’s no longer pink, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes.
- Pour the sauce mixture over the cooked beef and stir to combine. Let it simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.
- Turn-off the heat add the Thai basil leaves to the pan. Stir them in until they wilt and release their aromatic fragrance. This doesn’t take long.
- Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning with more sugar, fish sauce, or chili peppers to suit your preferences. Serve your Pad Krapow hot over a bed of steamed jasmine rice with fried egg on the side. Enjoy the vibrant flavors!