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Thai Chicken Stir Fried With Holy Basil (Gai Pad Graprow)

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“Chicken stir-fried with holy basil is a favorite Thai dish for many Westerners. Simple to prepare, it is a quick one-dish meal. The addition of fresh chilies makes the dish spicy, but you may adjust the recipe to taste by adding fewer chilies. This is a recipe of cooking instructor and cookbook author Kasma Loha-unchit. ====== NOTES: If you are not able to find fresh holy basil, this recipe can be substituted with any fresh basil... or a mixture of fresh Thai sweet basil and fresh mint leaves. Good results have been reported using ground turkey. In Thailand, this dish is often made with chopped pork, especially in fast-food, curry-rice shops, where an enormous variety of dishes are prepared ahead of time and served over steaming white rice to order. Some of the best pad gka-prow can be had at these inconspicuous, no-frills, open-air places. They are made particularly spicy to help preserve the meat, as the dishes are prepared early in the morning and served throughout the day until they are sold out. Try the above recipe also with fresh seafood (in this case, no need to chop) - shrimps, scallops, mussels, clams, crab and firm-flesh fish, such as fresh halibut and salmon.”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs (coarsely chopped, or cut into small bite-size pieces. Smallest pieces soak up most sauce!)
  • 4 -6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 -3 shallots, thinly sliced (or substitute with 1/2 cup sliced onion)
  • 2 -3 tablespoons peanut oil, for stir-frying
  • 2 teaspoons black soy sauce (the semi-sweet kind, siew dohm)
  • 1 -2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce, to taste (nam bplah)
  • 1 cup fresh Thai holy basil (bai gka-prow (In a pinch, use ANY basil, SEE NOTES ABOVE.)
  • 2 small kaffir lime leaves, very finely slivered (bai ma-gkrood) (optional)
  • 5 -10 Thai chiles, chopped and pounded with a mortar and pestle (prik kee noo) or 2 -3 fresh jalapenos or 2 -3 fresno bell peppers, cut into large slivers (these have the least amount of heat)
  • 1 dash white pepper


  1. Leave the fresh basil leaves whole; the flowers may also be used. The dried holy basil will soften when soaked in tap water for 10-15 minutes. Pull off and discard the hard stems. Drain.
  2. Heat a wok until the surface is smoking hot.
  3. Swirl in the oil to coat the wok surface.
  4. Wait a few seconds for the oil to heat, then stir in the garlic, followed a few seconds later with shallots.
  5. Stir another few seconds before adding the chicken.
  6. Stir-fry a minute or two, or until most of the chicken has started to change color on the outside and is no longer pink.
  7. Toss in the chillies, slivered kaffir lime leaves and reconstituted dried holy basil (if using).
  8. Sprinkle black soy sauce over the mixture and stir-fry another 15-20 seconds.
  9. Then add fresh basil leaves and fish sauce to taste. Stir and mix well.
  10. Stir-fry another half a minute, or until the basil is wilted and the chicken is cooked through.
  11. Sprinkle with white pepper.
  12. Stir and transfer to a serving dish, or spoon directly over individual plates of plain steamed rice.

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