Recipe: Pad Kra Pao (Basil Stir-Fry)

Recipe: Pad Kra Pao (Basil Stir-Fry)

  • posted on: August 30, 2020
  • posted by: Kari Fetrow
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Hi friends! It’s true, I do a lot of Asian cooking in my home. It just works for me, especially with the kids, and it makes it so easy to not succumb to the main and two sides dilemma I have when I try to cook a traditional American dinner. 

I was out at my garden the other day and I found a beautiful Thai basil plant that I had completely forgotten I planted! It was flourishing and ready for me to harvest some of those beautifully anise sweet smelling leaves. 

Every year I plant basil alongside my tomatoes to help with pests and every year I do the same old boring thing and make Italian pesto (Which is good, don’t get me wrong, but played out for me in so many ways.). So, this year I decided to plant more than one variety of basil and do some experimental cooking. That is how I stumbled upon this recipe for Pad Kra Pao or Holy Basil Stir-Fry. It is traditionally served along with rice, but I took this opportunity to use up some of the Japanese udon noodles I had in my pantry and the result was amazingly satisfying–it was hearty, semi-sweet, and the noodles were perfectly chewy.

Don’t be intimidated by its name, this is a seriously no skill dish and will leave you wanting more. Please give it a try and look for Thai basil in the Farm Market or at your local farm stand — it’s in season. 

— Kari


Pad Kra Pao (Basil Stir-Fry)
adapted from The Woks of Life 
serves 4


1 lb. Jones Family Farm ground pork
1 1/2 cups Thai basil leaves, packed
3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 shallots, sliced thinly
7 cloves of garlic (if small cloves add a few more)
3 Thai chilies, sliced thinly (I used a more mild chili that I grew in my garden this year)
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce, I like Red Boat Brand
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce, I like Pearl River Bridge Brand
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 lb. pasta, I used Japanese udon, but Bellingham Pasta Co.’s Spaghetti would be fabulous in this dish!
1/2 cup pasta water


Start a pot of water boiling to cook the noodles. In a wok or a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil, shallots, and garlic and fry for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the chilies and cook for 1 more minute. Turn the heat to high and add the ground pork. Break it up into little bits and crisp up the pork. This part is the hardest, because its on high heat and you just want to stir it constantly, but DON’T, let it sit for a few minutes at a time, it will gain the most beautiful carmelization. This should take a total of about 8-ish minutes.

While the pork is cooking put the noodles in the water and cook until al dente, reserving about 1/2 a cup of the pasta water. After the pork is nicely caramelized add the sugar, fish, soy, dark soy, and oyster sauce and stir-fry for another minute. Add the pasta water and basil to deglaze the pan, stir to get those yummy bits up and then add the pasta and toss until the basil is wilted.

Serve topped with crushed peanuts and a little sambal olek.