In gratitude and honor of the Thai soccer team and their coach who were triumphantly rescued after being trapped in a cave for 13 days, we’re sharing this Thai basil pork recipe, which is what many boys said in interviews that they craved. It’s easy and slightly spicy and made with ground pork, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, shallots, Thai chiles, and basil. Quick weeknight dinner that’s cheaper and better than takeout.
Known in its native land as Pad Gkaprow Mu, Thai basil pork is a near constant on the table in its native country, whether at breakfast or dinner. Once you experience the slightly spicy, salty, sweet for yourself, and realize how easy it is to make, you’ll understand why it’s a classic. Originally published December 1, 2009.–Renee Schettler Rossi
As the author explains, Thai basil pork is traditionally made with the jagged leaves of holy basil (bai gkaprow), which is native to Asia. However, Thai sweet basil (bai horapa) tends to be easier to find in Asian markets in the United States and makes a laudable stand-in. But if you can’t get your hands on either, no worries. You can always substitute any variety of basil you can get your hands on or, even better, a mix of basil and mint.
Thai Pork Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 15 M
- 4 to 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
- 5 Asian shallots, or 1/2 small onion, cut into thin slices (1/3 cup)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground pork (680 g)
- 6 red Thai chile peppers, seeded, if desired, and thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups packed fresh holy basil or Thai basil leaves
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Steamed white rice (optional)
- 1. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Carefully swirl in the oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer but doesn’t begin to smoke. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring, until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.
- 2. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the pork, using the edge of your spoon or spatula to break up the clumps. Stir and cook until the meat has just lost its blush of pink, 1 to 2 minutes.
- 3. Reduce the heat to medium and toss in the chiles. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and stir to coat the meat evenly. Stir in the basil and cook until the basil is wilted and the pork is cooked through, another 30 to 60 seconds.
- 4. Transfer to a serving dish and, if desired, sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper. Serve hot with freshly steamed rice.
Thai Basil Pork Variations
- Instead of pork, you can opt for ground chicken or turkey or virtually any fresh seafood, including shrimp, scallops, mussels, or firm-flesh fish like halibut or salmon.