This Thai basil chicken recipe (pad kra pao gai ผัดกระเพราไก่) is one of the most popular Thai street food recipes
In this Thai basil chicken recipe, you’ll learn to cook an authentic Thai street version of the dish.
Thai basil chicken, better known in Thai as pad kra pao gai (ผัดกระเพราไก่ pad ka prao gai), is a contender for the most popular, and the most beloved Thai street food dish of all time.
You know sometimes when you go to a restaurant and you have no idea what to order, or even what you want to eat?
When that happens in Thailand, pad kra pao gai (ผัดกระเพราไก่, with chicken), or any type of meat stir fried with Thai holy basil, is a dish that comes to the rescue!
Ingredients you’ll need
For the fried egg (optional, but I think it’s mandatory)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of oil for frying
For the basil chicken
- 1 chicken breast (or any other cut of boneless chicken, about 200 grams)
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 4 – 10 Thai chilies – when you fry the chilies, they aren’t as spicy
- 1 tablespoon oil for frying
- 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 splash of dark sweet soy sauce (you can use Indonesian kecap manis)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 handful of Thai holy basil leaves (really try to get holy basil)
You can make your pad see ew with chicken, pork, squid, shrimp, or even tofu, but this time I’ll be making this Thai basil recipes with chicken. However, feel free to substitute chicken with whatever meat you want.
Note: To see the exact steps for making this Thai basil chicken recipe, scroll down below to the recipe box, or keep reading for more of an explanation of this amazing Thai dish and an in-depth look into some of the ingredients. There are three main types of basil used in Thai cooking: Thai sweet basil (ใบโหระพา bai horapa – this one is often just referred to as Thai basil), lemon basil (ใบแมงลัก bai maenglak), and holy basil (ใบกะเพรา bai kra prao).
This Thai basil chicken recipes uses holy basil (ใบกะเพรา).
But, can I use Thai sweet basil for this recipe?
Unfortunately it can be challenging to find holy basil outside of Thailand, and I’ve found that Thai restaurants in the United States often substitute Thai sweet basil for Thai holy basil and call it basil chicken.
However, sweet basil doesn’t have the vibrant peppery flavor that holy basil has, and so to get this dish to taste the way it tastes in Thailand, you really can’t substitute another type of basil for holy basil.
But if you simply cannot find holy basil (you could grow some yourself) and can only find Thai sweet basil, you can still make this recipe, and though it won’t have that peppery flavor, it will still probably taste good.
For a little reassurance, on my latest visit to the United States, one day at the Asian supermarket I came across a big box of holy basil, I think grown in California – so it can be found in the US.
Another way you can really elevate the flavor of this Thai basil chicken recipe is by using a mortar and pestle to hand grind your garlic and chilies. A garlic press would also do the job well.
Unlike mincing, grinding really releases all the juices and oils of the chilies and garlic and it brings out an extra depth of flavor, which in return makes the entire dish of chicken basil more vibrant, garlicky and spicy.
You don’t need to crush the garlic and chilies down to a curry paste, but you’re just looking for just a coarse crush, like in the photo above.
But no worries if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mincing is still adequate.
Before getting started on this Thai basil chicken recipe, often my very first step is to begin by cooking a pot of rice. That way it’s finished and freshly cooked as soon as the chicken and egg are ready.
The first step is to fry the egg. Thai fried eggs are more like deep fried eggs, cooked in lots of oil. The extra oil gives them a lovely crispiness on the outside edges, and they taste so incredibly good mixed with the rice and chicken.
After the egg is finished cooking, lay it aside and get started cooking the chicken.
Finally, just like all of my Thai recipes, the ingredients listed (and the quantities) are a guide – it’s what I used – but use it loosely as a guide. Thai food is made to taste the way you want it to.