Pad kra pow is probably my favourite Thai dish of all time.
Not too hard, and one-pot meal at that, I make this quite often. But this update on the recipe is probably the best, the tastiest, most flavourful, most sedap version I’ve done so far. The recipe is inspired by my relative who is well-known for her cooking (her standard is even higher than KL’s top restaurants. Her attention to detail, right down to the proper decor and cutlery for a “simple” saba rice dish she prepared for us) will give Michelin chef’s a run for their money ok!!
While I was at her house a few weeks ago, I saw her cooking pad kra pow for her daughters’ school lunch. I noticed her taste and adjust the flavours several times.
I was surprised, to be honest. Even an experienced cook like her would go through that step for what must be a simple dish?
Then I realised why. She cares about the outcome and the enjoyment of the person eating it deeply. So must taste and check if flavour is ngam (Cantonese for “on point”). Attention to detail is the hallmark of all great cooks.
No shortcuts. No skipped steps, no matter how easy a dish may seem. You have to do the work.
My No 1 tip for a killer pad kra pow
You probably have your own favourite pad kra pow recipe. But do consider this tip from my relative: marinate the meat before cooking it. I know most people don’t marinate and just rely on the strong and flavourful sauce combo. However, from experience, I can tell you that the marination makes a difference. A bit more work but the final results are definitely worth the effort.
Pad Kra Pow (Thai Basil Stir-fry Chicken)
- 150 g Minced chicken (marinate with a drizzle of fish sauce, light soy sauce and pepper)
- 100 g French beans
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 4-5 red chilli padi
- 2 pips shallot
- 1-2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1-2 tsp dark soy sauce
- Pinch of white pepper
- Few tbsp water
- Pluck tough stems from basil leaves. Chop french beans into cubes.
- Mince meat (I used chicken) either by hand chopping or food processor. Marinate with fish sauce, light soya sauce and white pepper. I do this in the morning and leave it in the fridge until dinner time, but 1 hour should be enough.
- Chop up some shallots. This is just for extra fragrance.
- Pound together a few garlic cloves and chillies roughly. Adjust number of chillis to your level of preferred spiciness. (See Recipe Note 1)
- Heat up oil in wok and fry two eggs, sunny side up. I do this step first so that I can reuse the oil.
- Using the leftover oil, spread minced meat over the wok in a layer and cook until both sides start to acquire browning.
- Add in shallots, garlic and chillies. Make sure they are in contact with the oil so that they can flavour it.
- Add french beans.
- Add fish sauce, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, and sufficient water to get that sauciness. Taste and adjust. (See Recipe note 2)
- When chicken and french beans are completely cooked, and sauce has reduced to your desired thickness, turn off heat and add basil leaves. Toss to mix until the leaves are wilted to your desired wilty-ness. Serve with sunny side up egg and rice, enjoy!
- Pro tip: if you don't want it to be so spicy, don't pound so long. The longer you pound, the more of the capsaicin (the property that gives chillies their spiciness) you activate.
- The amounts in the recipe are just estimates because everyone has a different personal preference. Dark soy sauce gives it the dark colour and helps the chicken to caramelise while fish sauce can be very salty. I suggest you add bit by bit, especially the dark soy sauce and fish sauce which can be very overpowering.