PAD KRAPAO NEUA SAP (STIR-FRIED BEEF AND HOLY BASIL)
This is the ultimate Thai street food stir-fry staple – a nationwide favourite that has become the dish you order if you can’t decide what else you might want to eat. Quickly flash-fried and served either as a one-plate dish over rice with a fried egg, or as part of a spread of dishes to share with individual plates of rice, it combines spiciness, saltiness and a little sweetness with the addictive peppery, aniseed flavour of holy basil.
Serves two as part of a spread of dishes
For the paste:
1tbsp baby garlic cloves
1½tbsp finely chopped bird’s eye chillies, or to taste
1 coriander root, finely chopped
5 white peppercorns
1tsp holy basil flowers or 1 kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped (optional)
For the stir-fry:
150g minced beef
1 kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped
3tbsp vegetable oil
4tbsp beef or chicken stock
2tbsp oyster sauce
1tsp fish sauce
½tsp white sugar
a large handful of holy basil leaves
First, make the paste. Pound the baby garlic cloves, chillies, coriander root, peppercorns, and holy basil flowers or kaffir lime leaf (if using) to a fine consistency in a pestle and mortar.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over a medium-high heat until sizzling, then add the paste and stir until aromatic. Add the minced beef, increase the heat slightly, add 3tbsp of the stock, and stir to combine.
Throw in the kaffir lime leaf, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar, and stir again until the beef is cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning according to preference.
Add the holy basil leaves and the remaining stock, stir through and cook for another 30 seconds, then serve with steamed rice.
Including holy basil flowers in the paste adds an extra hit of peppery, anise-heavy basil flavour to the final dish – but the flowers can be hard to find outside Thailand, where bunches of basil leaves are often sold without them. If you can’t get hold of them, replace with a kaffir lime leaf in the paste, or just leave them out altogether.
Coriander root can be replaced with the same amount of leaves and stems, and baby garlic can be replaced with peeled regular garlic cloves.
Add your own twist
· Pad krapao can be made with any protein – replace the minced beef with your choice of minced or sliced chicken, pork, duck, or lamb, or use shelled prawns, squid, or tofu.