Thai Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Kra Pao Gai, also known as Gai Pad Krapow) is a Thai Hawker Stall / Street food. A well known favorite, the dish has gained immense popularity, not just in Thailand,but around the world.
Bite sized diced chicken (often ground chicken) is stir fried with a delicious sweet salty sauce. Then toss the Thai Holy Basil into the wok at the very last minute. It is this addition of Holy Basil which infuses the dish with an unmistakable aroma.
Enjoy the Thai Holy Basil Chicken with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice. In addition a runny yolked fried egg complements the flavors of the dish. Add separate slivers of Thai birds eye chili for some extra spicy kick.
Thankfully, this dish is so quick and easy that dinner can be on the table and in front of family in less than 20 minutes!
The Secret Ingredient In Thai Holy Basil Chicken
Holy Basil is revered throughout Asia because of it’s medicinal properties and culinary uses. It is the aroma and distinct flavor that gives this dish its special character.
“Kra-pow” the Thai Holy Basil, is a distinct member of the Basil Family of herbs and has a distinctive scent of clove with jagged tipped leaves. You will hear locals refer to it as “Hairy Basil”. This is because the leaves and stems of Holy Basil have very fine fuzzy hairs growing on them.
Do not confuse Thai Holy Basil with the more common Thai Basil – “Horapha”. It is a very easy to do.
As a result it can be quite difficult to find holy basil in Western stores. You can use the more common Thai sweet basil as a substitute. Be aware this will change the taste significantly. I prefer not to cook the dish unless I have the real thing!
Chicken – Diced or Minced?
You have a choice. You can have your chicken diced into small bite sized pieces or ground. I prefer the Hawker style of bite sized chicken. Many would however argue that you should use ground chicken in the recipe. It is entirely a matter of personal taste!
I urge you to try both and decide for yourself. You can purchase ground chicken at most grocery stores or you can make your own. I think the best ground chicken combines both chicken breast and chicken thigh meat.
To me, this dish could never be complete without that fried egg on the top. The edges are crispy. The yolk is slightly runny and therefore adds even more flavor to the dish.
Enjoy this great spicy stir fry, the delicious Thai Holy Basil Chicken!
- 200g chicken breast (or boneless thigh);
- 5 cloves of garlic;
- 6 Thai chilies;
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil;
- 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce;
- 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce;
- 1 teaspoon kecap manis;
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar;
- 1 handful Thai holy basil;
- 1 egg (E);
- 2 tablespoons oil (E).
- Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces.
- Peel your garlic and chilies, and mince them. They don't need to be a paste, but mashed enough to release their oils.
- Remove the holy basil leaves from the stems. You only want to use the leaves.
- Heat your wok on high and add the 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Add your chili and garlic paste. Stir fry for 1-15 seconds. Stir constantly as you want the paste to be fragrant but not dry or burnt
- Add the chicken. Keep stir frying continuously until cooked all the way through. Usually 3-4 minutes. If the mix becomes dry and begins to stick add a dash of water to the pan.
- Add the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, and kecap manis. Stir fry for approximately 30 seconds.
- Toss your holy basil leaves into the pan and mix into the chicken,. Turn off immediately and remove from the heat.
- Prepare the egg (this can be done before you cook the chicken of you wish)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Add the egg to the hot oil and let it bubble and sizzle. Carefully splash hot oil on top of the egg (don't flip it) - you'll get a crispy light fluffy egg!
- Serve on top of steamed rice (Jasmine is best - I think)
Prepare your steamed rice before beginning.
Ingredients (E) - Fried Egg
Nutrition InformationYield 1 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 850Total Fat 55gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 45gCholesterol 356mgSodium 818mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 5gSugar 7gProtein 72g
All ingredients have slightly different nutritional value dependent upon brand purchased - use as a guideline only