Kitchen Thai cuisine
Allergens Fish Gluten-containing grains Molluscs
Basis Meat / fish Vegetables
Dish type Main course
For who Chilli lovers
What is pad krapow?
Pad krapow is one of the most popular and easy to prepare dishes from Thai cuisine. Holy basil (called bai krapow) is stir-fried along with a source of protein (stuffed meat, fried fish or tofu), garlic, chilli peppers and other typical Thai flavourings. Sometimes green beans or spring onions are also added.
The holy basil – the krapow – is the star of the dish. You can tell by the name and you notice it in your mouth. Once you get used to the heat of the chillies, its obvious taste and aroma, which is peppery and powerful and unlike anything else, will soon become apparent.
You could call pad krapow fast food, although it is healthy fast food. It is available from early morning to late evening in food stalls on the streets of Bangkok and other cities. The Thai like to eat it for lunch, or if they suddenly feel hungry and want to eat something tasty quickly.
Order your pad krapow in a restaurant, and you will usually be asked if you want it “hot”. If you say yes, be prepared for a searingly hot version that heightens all your senses and makes your eyes water. A crispy fried egg, complete with brown-fried edges, regularly appears on top of the dish, which is then called pad krapow kai dao.
Rice krapow belongs to pad. Eating pad krapow without rice is like eating a jar of sauce without adding anything. Rice counteracts the heat as it is mild and soft, and the nutty taste of pandan or glutinous rice gives an extra dimension to the whole.
How to make pad krapow
Minced meat or pieces of chicken, fish or tofu are cooked in oil and garlic or baked crispy together with any vegetables – onion and beans for example – and fresh chilli peppers. Dried chilli peppers and a mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar are then added. As soon as all the moisture has been absorbed, it is taken off the heat, and a large hand of holy basil is stirred through it. Now the dish is ready to be served with rice and possibly a fried egg.
How to eat
Don’t stir rice and pad krapow together, but rebuild every bite on your spoon: a little rice, a little stir-fry. In this way both elements remain recognisable and the flavours come fully into their own. You can also roll glutinous rice into small balls with which you spoon the pad krapow inside.
The dish is quite spicy. Keep an ice-cold, sweet cha yen (Thai tea with condensed milk) close by to calm your taste buds.