This easy recipe for Pad Krapow Gai (Thai Basil Chicken) features ground chicken sautéed in a savoury sauce with aromatic basil leaves. Serve it on hot steamed rice with a fried egg as a comforting meal.
What is pad krapow gai?
In Thai, pad means "stir-fried," krapow means "holy basil," and gai is "chicken," so it literally means "stir-fried holy basil chicken."
What is holy basil?
Holy basil is native to Southeast Asia, so it can be hard to find here in Canada and in the United States.
Holy basil has medicinal properties which give it its more spicy, peppery taste.
It is also different than the more commonly found Mediterranean sweet basil, which is tastes more sweet (for lack of a better word).
However, a good substitution if you don't have access to holy basil is Thai sweet basil, which can be found at Asian supermarkets.
Thai basil has purple stems and has a more predominantly spicy licorice-anise flavour, but if you're in a pinch and can't find Thai basil, regular sweet basil will work just fine.
Why you'll love this recipe
Pad Krapow Gai is a flavourful dish, seasoned with a few pantry ingredients and aromatics.
Using ground chicken speeds up the cooking time (versus using chicken breast/thigh meat).
It's quick to prepare in under 30 minutes.
Ingredients you'll need
You'll need these ingredients to put the dish together:
- vegetable oil: I used avocado, but you can use any vegetable oil you like
- ground chicken: or ground turkey will work wonderfully well
- garlic & shallots: minced -- adds flavour to the chicken
- red Thai chilies: are small chilies that are bright red in colour; they can be quite spicy so add to your taste
- chicken broth: or you can use water
- soy sauce: dark and light soy sauce -- for saltiness and colour
- oyster sauce: is an Asian seasoning sauce made with oysters; if you can't find it, you can omit
- fish sauce: is another Asian sauce that is used predominantly in Vietnamese cuisine -- it's made from salted and fermented fish
- granulated sugar: or honey, adds a little sweetness to balance the saltiness
- holy basil: as mentioned above, if you can't find holy basil, you can use any basil that you have on hand
You can find most of these ingredients in Asian supermarkets.
- steamed rice
- fried egg
How to choose chilies
Thai chilies (also known as bird's eye chili) are very spicy, red, small slightly curved chilies that pack a punch.
You can find them at Asian grocery stores in small packages in the produce section.
In terms of spiciness, they are not as hot as a habanero, but are many more times spicier than jalapeno.
The flavour and hotness from a Thai chili is quite distinct, but if you're not able to get your hands on fresh Thai chilies, you can use cayenne powder.
For this recipe, substitute 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder if you don't have fresh Thai chili.
If you're want to go with a fresh chili, try using a serrano chili, which won't pack as much heat, but will give some flavour to the dish.
How to make it
It's important to have all your ingredients ready before you start (Step 1 below).
In a bowl, combine together the chicken broth, light and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and granulated sugar. Give it a stir and set aside (Step 2 below).
Heat up a large frying pan or wok over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan.
Add the shallots, garlic and Thai chilies and sauté quickly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Next, add in the ground chicken and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes (Step 3 below).
Pour the chicken broth mixture into the pan and stir to coat all of the chicken. Be sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
When almost all of the chicken broth sauce has reduced, turn off the heat (Step 4 below).
Add in the basil, give it a stir and remove from heat. The residual heat will continue to wilt the basil.
How to serve
Serve the Pad Krapow Gai hot on steamed rice with a fried egg on top.
How to store & reheat
Store Pad Krapow Gai in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
To reheat, you can microwave the Thai Basil Chicken until heated through, or re-warm on the stove top.
Tips & substitutions
If you can't find holy basil, you can use Thai or sweet basil.
Feel free to use ground turkey in place of ground chicken.
You can also use chicken meat (thigh or breast), cut into chunks. I've used chicken thigh for this dish -- just cut them into smaller chunks.
Try using honey or palm sugar in place of the granulated sugar.
Adjust the amount of chilies to your taste -- if you don't like spicy, reduce the amount or omit.
If you don't have oyster sauce or fish sauce on hand, substitute with Worcestershire instead.
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Let me know if you try this recipe -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below.
Pad Krapow Gai (Thai Basil Chicken)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- ¼ C chicken broth or water
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar or honey
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium shallot minced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 4-5 Thai chilies to your taste (if you can't tolerate spicy, reduce the amount)
- 300 g ground chicken
- large handful Thai basil leaves reserve a few for garnishing
- steamed white rice
- 4 fried eggs
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Set aside.
- Heat up a large frying pan or wok and add in 2 tablespoon oil.
- Add in the shallots, garlic, Thai chilies and quickly stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Next, add in the ground chicken and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the chicken broth mixture and stir to coat the chicken. Be sure to scrape off any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook.
- When most of the chicken broth has evaporated, turn off the heat and add in a large handful of Thai basil.
- Stir to incorporate the basil into the chicken as the residual heat will continue to wilt the basil. Remove from heat.
- Serve the Thai Basil Chicken with fresh hot steamed rice and a fried egg. Garnish with additional basil leaves. Best served hot.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.