Pork Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao)

This pad kra pao (pork & holy basil-stir-fry) features a key ingredient: holy basil! With jasmine rice, it’s perfection. And it only takes minutes to make.

Thai Basil Vs. Holy Basil

Okay, about to get real serious about basil right now.

We’ve published several recipes on this blog that involve Thai basil, like this 10-Minute Chicken & Basil Stir-fry and this Thai Basil Beef. In said recipes, we used what our local Asian grocery store labels as, “Thai Basil,” which is actually a variety of cinnamon basil. This is also the kind of basil most commonly used in Thai restaurants here in the States, I believe.

That said, a few commenters on those recipes felt very passionately about our basil usage, suggesting—demanding—that we use holy basil in our recipes. The translation of “Pad Kra Pao,” is apparently “holy basil stir-fry,” so you can’t (technically) make the dish without this key ingredient.

It’s elusive, though. We scoured the Asian markets in our area for holy basil, but could never find it. Finally, we decided to take our only remaining course of action, just to see what all the fuss was about. We bought a packet of seeds on the Internet, stuck ’em in our backyard garden, and waited.

After a few weeks, the little holy basil plants started popping out of the ground:

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

As the summer wore on, our holy basil crop grew and grew––and we now have a pretty serious holy basil patch in our yard––enough to make endless plates of pad kra pao (Thai holy basil) stir-fry. The picture below is a bit old––we now probably have quadruple the amount you see there).

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

When I started cooking with it, I finally knew why people had such strong feelings about using it in this Pork Pad Kra Pao stir fry dish. It has a very particular flavor. It’s almost licorice-like, or perhaps fennel-like.

In any case, I was a fan. That said, if you’re not into the idea of growing this uncommon (here in ‘Murica, anyway) variety of basil in order to get your hands on some, I maintain that using cinnamon basil or even regular sweet basil is better than having no stir-fry at all!

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

Ok, on to the pad kra pao stir fry recipe. 🙂

Pad Kra Pao Recipe Instructions

In a wok over medium high heat, add the oil, shallots and garlic, and fry for 3 minutes.

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

Add the chilies and cook for another minute.

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

Crank up the heat to high, and add the ground pork, breaking it up into small bits and allowing it to crisp up.

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

Add the sugar, fish sauce, thin/light soy sauce, ddark soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir-fry for another minute and deglaze the pan with the broth or water. Because your pan is over high heat, the liquid should cook off very quickly.

Add the holy basil leaves, and stir-fry until wilted.

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

Serve this Pork Pad Kra Pao(Holy Basil Stir-fry) over rice!

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

I think we could have named this Pork & Holy Basil Stir-fry a 10 minute Pork Pad Kra Pao stir fry because it was that quick and easy!

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.comPork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by thewoksoflife.com

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