when you ask a local in thailand what they cook at home, the answer is often some version of pad ka prao. this minced pork stir fry is made with 'holy basil' or ka prao, a peppery cousin of the commonly found sweet basil in north america, but since holy basil is difficult to find, feel free to substitute either thai or italian basil -- just don't let a Thai chef catch you calling it "pad ka prao". we love this dish because it's super easy and packed full of flavour. serve with steamed rice, a crispy fried egg with a yolk that oozes over and some steamed veg, and you've got dinner in under 30 minutes. we make our version farang spicy but if you can handle your chiles like a true thai you can toss in a few more.
6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 shallot, rough sliced
1-2 red bird's eye chiles, rough sliced (be careful, these are spicy!!!)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs. ground pork (or ground meat of your choice)
1 1/2 tbsp. gf soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
large handful of your choice of basil (holy basil is preferred)
crispy fried shallots (optional, for garnish)
On the stove or in a rice cooker, steam rice of your choice. Traditionally, this would be served with jasmine.
In a mortar and pestle or small blender, combine garlic, shallot, and chiles and crush into a rough paste. You could also mince these ingredients on a cutting board.
Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add oil.
Fry aromatic paste briefly until fragrant, around 30 seconds. Add ground pork and break up into small pieces with a spatula. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar and stir pork until cooked, around 3 minutes. Taste and add water or a bit of stock if the pan is dry.
Turn off heat and stir in whole leaves of basil.
Serve with steamed veg and crispy fried egg topped with fried shallots and cilantro.