Pad Krapow Moo: Stir Fried Pork with Holy Basil

I understand that in Thailand pad krapow moo is ubiquitous as a favorite fast food. I encountered this dish one evening sort of by accident as I looked for a recipe that could use up an excess of Thai and Asian fresh ingredients that I had recently purchased with a bit too much zeal. I had some ground pork on hand and I wanted to cook a Thai dinner so I Googled the Internet and read up enough recipes to get the general idea of which ingredients to use and how to cook them. I surprised myself when my recipe turned out to be delicious, and so easily cooked too! Due to the short cooking time and risk of burning you should measure and prepare the ingredients in advance, except for the sauces and sugar which you can just ad lib as you cook. Feel free to improvise as you like since none of the amounts are critical, and select the peppers you use to suit your taste. I have provided suggestions for any hard to find ingredients.

Holy basil (Thai: bai grapao / bai krapow / bai kaprow), called that because of an early Biblical reference, Ocimum sanctum is similar to Western basil O. basilicum except that it has a subtle liccorice taste and its stems have a redish-purplish color or tinge, and sometimes the leaves too. There are three popular varieties of basil grown in Thailand including our own sweet basil (Thai: bai horapa), the previously mentioned grapao or krapow, and lemon basil (Thai: bai mangluk / bai manglak) O. Americanum. To be honest I'm not a basil authority and available information is conflictory. Also, the Thai alphabet is unlike ours so Thai words have to be phoneticized into our alphabet, and that's why there are so many spellings of the same thing. You should look for the purple stemmed liccorice tasting basil, or you can use whatever basil is available in your local stores. The result won't be as authentic but it will still be good.

Instead of pork (moo) you can use chicken (gai), or beef (neua or nuea), which will of course change the name of the recipe. Optionally you can use bite sized pieces instead of ground meat. I recommend using Canola or Safflower oil for sauté. You can substitute an equivalent amount of sliced onions for the shallots. If you don't have fish sauce (Asian fermented fish seasoning) then substitute an additional 1 T. of oyster sauce. Instead of Thai chilis you can substitute serranos, jalapeños or other small hot chili peppers, julienned (cut into thin strips). Makes 2 or 3 servings depending on the appetites of you and your guests, or you can scale the recipe and use about 6-7 oz. of meat per serving.


1-2 t. oil for sauté
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 small shallots, thinly sliced
6-12 Thai chilis, seeds in and sliced into thin rounds
optional: 1 medium sized bell pepper or onion, julienned ¼ by 2 inches
1 lb. ground pork
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. oyster sauce
2 T. fish sauce (nam pla)
1 T. soy sauce
dash of freshly ground white or black pepper
1½ to 2 C. packed fresh holy basil or sweet basil leaves
optional: 2-3 eggs
optional: 1 lime


1. Preheat wok or skillet over medium heat and then add a small amount of oil. When the oil is heated add the garlic and shallots, then sauté them briefly. After about a half minute add the Thai chilis and sauté for another minute or two until the garlic and shallots are lightly browned. If you're using onion or bell pepper add them just before proceeding to the next step.

2. Add the meat then toss the mixture as it cooks so that it cooks evenly. Do not overcook the meat. Add the sugar, oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce as you cook, mixing thoroughly. When the meat is lightly browned—3 to 5 minutes—proceed to the next step.

3. Turn off the heat, add the basil and toss until the basil just begins to wilt and not any more. Season with a dash of freshly ground pepper then transfer to a serving dish or to individual plates.

4. Optional steps: Add one fried egg per serving, cooked sunny side up or over easy, then serve on top of the pad krapow moo. The edges of the eggs should be crisped and the yolks still liquid. If you like you can squeeze a lime over the pad krapow moo, or serve with lime wedges.

Suggestion: Serve over steamed Thai jasmine rice or other white rice.

Credit: My own version of  the traditional Thai recipe.

Filed under Meat   Tagged Thai, pork, signature, stir fried, dinner