Pad Ka-Prao

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A street food dish that reputes in a spiciness and savory is famous all throughout the country; Thailand. This individual dish designs to be eaten with rice and a fried egg or omelette, to help balance its strong flavors. Even though Pad Ka-Prao ผัดกะเพรา or ‘holy basil stir fry’ can be eaten any time of the day, but this is more common for a quick lunch hour. As the dish cooks as rapid as a fast food, it’s a well-known dish for all kinds of working people, from a blue collar to white collar.

A good Pad Ka-Prao should consider these 3 important keys; spiciness from chili-garlic mix, strong aroma from basil leaves, and the savory taste in a seasoning sauce. Therefore if any of the elements missing, the dish is not fully enjoyable.

In Thai “Pad ผัดmeans to stir fry or to saute, “Ka-Prao กะเพรา” refers to holy basil (usually Thai basil refers to a sweet basil rather than holy basil). Even though the main ingredient for this dish is Ka-Prao or holy basil but it appears that the use of it are less than any main ‘protein’ ingredient putting in the dish. Therefore there is no surprised that the ration of holy basil and ‘protein’ is 1:3 in this case.

Normally, the traditional meaty Pad Ka-Prao (follow this link) contains fish sauce according to SheSimmers, purists would not even use oyster sauce and soy sauce in their Pad Ka-Prao at all. But as for a vegetarian recipe, fish sauce and oyster sauce are out of the options anyway, thereby any kind of soy sauce is welcomed as both a substitute and main seasoning in this recipe below. Yet this is slightly sweet-savory recipe, hence the acceptable sweetening agents; the dark sweet soy sauce, palm or brown sugar, should give a satisfied feeling after taste.

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Pad Ka-Prao ผัดกะเพรา

Serve: 2          Prep time: 15 mins.           Cook time: 10 mins.


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12g or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

4-5g or 3 chilies,  chopped

120g firm tofu, cut into small cubes

(50g soft/silken tofu, cut into small cubes – or setan)

20g minced soy protein, soaked and squeezed out water

90 g or 3 big champiñón mushroom, slices

10g basil leaves

1 tbsp (thick) mushroom soy sauce

2 or 2 ½ tbsp (Thai) light soy sauce

½ tbsp seasoning soy sauce

1 tsp (palm) brown sugar or dark sweet soy sauce

1 pinch salt

2-3 tbsp oil

1/3 cup water


  • Use a mortar and pestle to pound garlic and chili together. Start to pound garlic or chili individually, then pound them together until it gets coarse paste.[i] — Prepare all ingredients mis-en-place because this is a quick cooking method, you will need everything in a sudden while cooking.


  1. In a pan, add oil and heat it over medium high heat.
  2. Add in the garlic-chili paste right after, saute until fragrant. (Make sure it does not burn.)
    2017 06 12 Pad Ka-Prao 11
  3. Put in mushroom, and immediately salt away. Saute until it almost cooked.[ii] Then pour in about 4 tablespoons water so that the mushroom get steamed and cooked faster. Mix all well.
  4. Add the seasoning; light soy sauce, mushroom sauce, seasoning sauce, and sugar. Stir fry altogether well.
  5. Fill in soy protein and tofu, and stir fry for 1-2 minutes over high heat.
    2017 06 12 Pad Ka-Prao 14
  6. Then add in holy basil leaves, saute for about one minute.[iii] 

  7. Turn off the heat and serve with or top the rice.

—- The fried egg or omelette can be accompanied with this dish to balance or tone down a taste of spicy, salty, and slightly sweet.


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[i] Generally, chilies is firstly pounded in Thailand because it take it slightly longer time than garlic. But since in Barcelona the garlic is a different type than in Thailand, it’s bigger in size and more watery (then the taste dose not intensified as a small garlic). Garlic is pounded first to prevent some water splashed while pounding with chilies.

[ii] The mushroom soaks up all the oil and flavor like a sponge after it releasing its own water out (by sprinkling a pinch of salt), that is why cooking mushroom at this point give it more flavorful.

[iii] Make crispy basil leaves to top the dish upon serving, by deep frying few leaves in a very hot oil for about 30 seconds. Take out from the oil and drain out the excess oil and leave them to cool for 5 seconds before top them on Pad Ka-Prao.

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