In our Asian supermarket, we were able to buy “holy basil”, which is usually difficult to find internationally. Italian basil and Thai basil are much easier to obtain.
You have to cook pad ka prao with it. Without “holy basil”, it is better to use the Italian variety, as it actually comes closer to the distinctive flavour than Thai basil.
This dish is also often served with a hot and briefly fried egg, and the first thing we do is prepare the universal seasoning of Thai cuisine: prik nam pla (sometimes also called nam pla prik). Prik means chilli and nam pla means fish sauce. And you don’t need much more than that.
Chilli is finely chopped and generously covered with fish sauce. We recommend using the “Megachef” brand, which has no additives and delivers a wonderfully balanced flavour.
Lime juice is added, about a third of the amount of fish sauce. The final ingredients are finely chopped garlic and shallot. Both need about 10 – 15 minutes to release their full flavour, then the seasoning mix is already prepared.
This can be done according to taste and personal preference, but as always, you will find suggested quantities at the end of the recipe. Red and green chilli can be used for more colour. The mixture can be stored almost forever, but we recommend always making a smaller amount, as it tastes better when fresh and garlic and shallots quickly turn an unattractive colour.
Now for the actual dish: fresh bird’s eye chillies (Thai chillies) are ground in a mortar. The stalk is cut off and the seeds can be removed to keep the spiciness under control.
Add plenty of garlic cloves and – if you like – a little shallot. All of this is grated and crushed into a coarse mixture, which does not need to be a paste.
Next, mix together fish sauce, light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and oyster sauce. If you don’t have any sweet soy sauce in the larder, as we do today, use dark soy sauce and palm sugar (alternatively brown sugar, or white sugar in an emergency).
(Holy) basil is washed and shaken dry, then plenty of whole leaves are separated from the stalks and not cut; they should remain whole for maximum flavour.
Now it’s time to cook, a wok is the perfect tool for this. If you don’t have one, a pan will help.
In a small amount of neutral vegetable oil, first fry the base you have just prepared in the mortar for 30 seconds over a high heat…
…before minced meat is added and fried until crumbly, stirring constantly. We use beef, pork, mixtures of these or chicken are also common, although the latter should be cut into small pieces by hand.
As soon as the meat has taken on a brownish colour – and this happens very quickly – the mixture of sauces (and sugar if necessary) is added and mixed in thoroughly.
Immediately the basil leaves are added to the wok and stirred in, they should only collapse slightly and thus develop their full flavour potential.
This only takes seconds and all the contents of the wok can now be set aside. We do this in a bowl that we have warmed in the oven at 40 – 50 degrees Celsius, as we usually do with our tableware before serving (spoiler: rarely with desserts).
We heat a little more oil in the wok and slide in a small bowl of cracked egg, one at a time, depending on the number of guests.
It is fried in 30 – 60 seconds until crispy with a runny yolk.
It is served with steamed jasmine rice. Rice on one side, meat on the other, egg on top. Fascinating flavour, easy to prepare and visually hard to outdo.
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients (for 2 people):
Pad Ka Prao:
5 Thai chillies
7 cloves of garlic
1 large shallot (optional)
Neutral vegetable oil
400 g minced meat (beef, pork or chicken)
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) – alternatively: 1 tsp dark soy sauce and 1 ½ tsp palm sugar
1 tsp oyster sauce
2 handfuls of “holy basil” (alternative: Italian basil)
120 g jasmine rice, washed
A pinch of salt
180 g water
Nam Pla Prik:
2 Thai chillies (red or red and green)
4 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of ½ lime
1 – 2 cloves of garlic
1 small shallot