Bangkok Eats: Pad Krapow (Fried Basil)

Food — By Kevin Revolinski on April 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

In your quest to move beyond Pad Thai, you might start with another wok favorite: Pad Krapow Mu Sap the four words of which translate directly as fried basil pork (ground). Look for any street vendor with a wok and ground pork sitting under the glass of the cart. Most local restaurants will have it as well except obviously any Muslim joints.

The name itself is the basic recipe plus oyster sauce, Thai chilies and perhaps some garlic. However, some versions come with cut up pieces of green beans, baby corn or even carrots. It’s best served over rice (“khao” said with a falling tone) and you can preface the order with that (khao krapow mu sap).

photo by Kevin Revolinski

I also recommend a fried egg on top (kai dao which is added at the end of the dish’s name) and these might already be fried up from earlier and waiting to go. Sounds scary but don’t sweat it. Food moves fast.

This dish can be wicked hot especially if the person making it cuts up those chilies into tiny pieces and gets the seeds all scattered throughout the meat. I had perhaps my spiciest dose of krapow mu sap at Suda, a low-budget restaurant quite popular with some of the ex-pats down around Asok BTS station. But my favorite servings have always been in the street or an outdoor food market such as the one next to On Nut BTS station. For those of you who are street-food shy, consider the fact that this is typically fried up hot right in front of you. In the street it might cost about 30-40 baht and 5-10 for the egg. In restaurants it might be as much as double that range.

This style of dish also can be ordered with chicken (pad krapow gai) or shrimp (pad krapow gung) or rarely beef (pad krapow neua).

Tags: bangkok, fried basil, kai dao, krapow, moo, mu sap, street food, thai food


  • Patsy Bell Hobson says:

    I am an herb gardener. Basil is my thing. Can you tell me or about how yo make this recipe in an American kitchen?

  • Kevin Revolinski says:

    Hi Patsy, Making it is rather simple. Making it just right I suppose is an art and a matter of taste. It requires a hot wok, oil, throw in some garlic, ground pork, and some pounded or sliced up Thai red chilis, season it a bit with oyster sauce (some say soy sauce) and if you want, a bit of sugar and/or fish sauce. Some add a bit of water to keep it from drying out too much. At the end add the basil so it wilts up and fries a bit. Not Thai basil, I was warned once by a knowledgable and opinionated older Thai woman, but Holy Basil. Recipes vary but this is what I’ve found to be best from asking around. Do you grow Holy Basil?

  • b says:

    i grow sweet and holy basil,. and theyre both great with this dish, i prefer the sweet, but my lady digs the hotter holy.

    btw – if u aint down with the moo(pork) this dish with chkn or SHRIMP rocks!!

    git sum!!

    plenny garlicks, dem yes


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