Whether you're a fan of Thai cuisine or new to its vibrant flavors, this Thai Basil Pork Stir Fry dish is easy to love. With the aromatic blend of holy basil, tender pork, and a mixture of Thai sauces, it's a delicious and quick meal that you can whip up in less than 20 minutes!
For another delicious Thai basil stir fry, try this classic Pad Kra Pao version with the ground chicken, Gai Pad Krapao.
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- What is Thai Basil Pork?
- Ingredients for Making Thai Pork Basil
- A note about sweet dark soy sauce
- How to Make Thai Basil Pork
- Garnishing Options
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- What to Serve with Thai Basil Pork
- Storing Leftovers
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Thai Basil Pork Stir Fry
- More Thai Recipes You'll Love
Thai basil stir fry is an iconic Thai dish that's taken the world by storm due to its addictive and flavorful taste from fresh herbs and the different Thai sauces combined to make the perfect stir fry.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- This recipe has simple ingredients that you can find or substitute with ingredients found at most regular grocery stores.
- A Burst of Flavors: Thai basil pork is an explosion of flavors in every bite with the peppery flavor and aromatic notes of holy basil with the umami richness of pork and a sweetness from brown sugar.
- Quick and Easy: This dish comes together in just minutes, making it an ideal choice for busy weeknights when you crave something tasty and satisfying.
- Customizable: You can adjust the heat level by varying the amount of Thai chilis, making it perfect for those who prefer a milder or spicier kick.
What is Thai Basil Pork?
Thai basil pork, known as "Pad Kra Pao Moo" in Thailand, is a beloved street food dish that encapsulates the essence of Thai cuisine. It's a stir-fry with protein, holy basil leaves, and flavorful Thai sauces. The result is a fragrant and savory dish that is comforting and exciting to the palate.
Thai Pad Kra Pao is commonly made with ground meat. Still, there are also other versions, like this one, where thinly sliced meat is used, and those are typically more meaty and are just as delicious, if not more so, especially if you love big, chunky protein sizes.
For more Thai stir-fried dishes, try Thai basil fried rice with chicken, green mussels stir-fried with Thai basil and roasted chili paste, Thai drunken noodles, and eggplant stir-fried with Thai basil.
Ingredients for Making Thai Pork Basil
Before we delve into the cooking process, look at the simple ingredient list below that makes this Thai basil pork irresistible.
- Garlic and shallot. These will be sauteed to extract the flavors for the stir fry.
- Thai chilies. Adjust as needed for your spice level.
- Pork meat. I used pork loin for this recipe. It's ok to have a little pork fat on the meat. It just adds to the dish's flavor.
- Thai holy basil leaves. Read more about Thai herbs and basil in this useful blog post here.
- Green beans. In Traditional Thai recipes, Thai people almost always use long beans, but they are never sold at regular markets until you visit the Asian markets. If you can find the long beans, grab those instead. They are sweeter and have more of a bouncy texture that adds to the stir-fry experience.
- Stock, broth, or water. Add some liquid and prevent the meat from sticking to the pan.
- Oyster sauce. This is where all the umami velvety flavors come from.
- Fish sauce. I used Squid brand, but any fish sauce you have is fine.
- Light soy sauce. Use any Regular soy sauce you have.
- Sweet soy sauce. Substitute regular or light soy sauce with one tablespoon of honey to compensate for the sweet soy sauce.
- Rice wine vinegar. Adds a nice tangy balance to the salty and sweet flavor of Pad Krapao. Fresh lime juice works great as a substitute.
- Sugar. Use white, brown, or palm sugar as a sweetener.
- Eggs. Use one egg per serving. Fried eggs are optional, though they make a very tasty pairing. Fry the eggs in a generous amount of oil until you get crispy edges. When eating your stir fry, cook your eggs sunny side up and allow the runny egg to ooze over the Krapao and rice.
A note about sweet dark soy sauce
Thai sweet soy sauce is not the same as your regular soy sauce. The sweet soy sauce is....sweet and dark...as the name implies, and it's a thick dark brown liquid. Very similar to dark soy sauce but sweeter.
The sweet and dark soy sauce bottles are large and can be a deterrent for new cooks to not buy because of their large size and not sure what other recipes to use them for.
Fear not. I have a quick home substitute you can do in a pinch if you don't want to buy a bottle. Mix one tablespoon of honey, agave, or maple syrup with your soy sauce and mix.
Read more about the different types of Thai sauces here.
How to Make Thai Basil Pork
Step 1. Make the sauce by combining oyster sauce, fish sauce, light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside until ready.
Step 2. Thinly slice the pork meat into 1-inch pieces. Set aside until ready.
Step 3. Pound chili and garlic in a mortar and pestle or thinly slice them into small pieces. Add oil, garlic, and chilis in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir and cook for just a few seconds until fragrance.
Step 4. Add the pork and stir well and often. Cook for only 2-3 minutes until the meat is lightly browned.
Step 5. Add the sauce, stir well, and cook for 1 minute.
Step 6. Add the green beans and cook for 2-3 more minutes until lightly tender. You want the green beans to be lightly crunchy for the authentic Thai experience.
Add the stock and stir well.
Step 7. Add the Thai basil and turn the heat off. Let the residual heat wilt the basil.
Step 8. This step is optional but highly recommended. Fry one egg/serving in enough oil (¼ cup or so). Fry the eggs on medium heat until the edges are crispy and golden brown. Leave the eggs sunny side up to get some soft yolk to drip over your stir fry and jasmine rice when serving.
Serve your holy basil stir-fry with cooked jasmine rice, and enjoy!
Thai basil pork is traditionally served with jasmine rice or white rice and a fried egg, creating a complete and satisfying meal. You can add fresh slices of cucumber or a drizzle of extra sauce for added flavor.
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Adjust the level of spiciness by adding or reducing the number of Thai chilis. For added heat, add more red chili flakes or chopped fresh Thai chilis for more heat.
- Be sure to use Thai holy basil, as it imparts a distinct peppery and aromatic flavor to the dish that sets it apart from regular sweet basil. It has the best flavor that makes this dish what it is!
- If Thai holy basil is not available, use Thai basil. If both are unavailable, then use the regular Italian basil but double up on the portion of the Italian basil.
What to Serve with Thai Basil Pork
- Jasmine rice is the most common accompaniment for Thai basil pork, providing a neutral base that balances the dish's flavors.
- A fried egg on top adds richness and a silky texture that complements the savory and spicy components of the stir-fry, making it an extremely delicious meal.
- While the classic Thai basil pork recipe is already bursting with flavor, you can experiment with different proteins, such as ground chicken or beef, to create exciting variations. Add vegetables like red peppers or bok choy for extra crunch and nutrition.
- Chicken breast, beef, or even tofu can be used as a substitute for pork.
- If you can't find Thai holy basil at your local Asian grocery store, you can use regular sweet basil, although the flavor profile will differ slightly. Holy basil has a spicier and more peppery taste.
- Sweet soy sauce can be found in most Asian markets. The bottles that they come in are pretty large. For substitute, add 1 tablespoon of honey to soy sauce to get the sweetness added for use in the recipe.
Leftover Thai basil pork can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be frozen for longer preservation, though the texture of the vegetables may change slightly upon thawing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thai holy basil has a peppery and more aromatic flavor than regular sweet basil's sweeter taste.
It can be as spicy as you like, depending on how much Thai chilis you use. You can adjust the heat level to suit your taste.
Thai holy basil is a key ingredient in dishes like Pad Kra Pao Gai (holy basil chicken) and Pad Kra Pao Neua (holy basil beef).
Thai holy basil is readily available in most Asian markets and can be grown in your own herb garden if you like Thai cuisine.
It's a popular street food dish in Thailand known for its bold and aromatic flavors.
Absolutely! You can experiment with vegetables like red peppers, bok choy, or mushrooms to create a unique twist on Thai basil pork.
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