Recipe of the week: pad grapao neua (stir-fried beef with holy basil)

Learn to make ‘the ultimate Thai comfort food’

Pad grapao neua (stir-fried beef with holy basil)
Pad grapao neua taken from Kin Thai: Modern Thai Recipes to Cook at Home by John Chantarasak

This is the ultimate Thai comfort food, says John Chantarasak. It’s one of those “anything goes” kind of dishes, which is one of the reasons I love it, and though this recipe uses beef, it is often made with chicken, pork or seafood.

Holy basil isn’t the easiest herb to source, but sweet Thai basil is popping up more and more on supermarket shelves.

Serves two people

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  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 6 bird’s eye chillies
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 220g minced beef
  • 3 tbsp fine green beans, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 3 tbsp beef stock or water
  • 40g holy or Thai basil, leaves picked


  • In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar. This will be your seasoning sauce. Set aside. Then, in a pestle and mortar, pound the chillies, garlic and salt to a coarse paste. This will be your stir-fry paste. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large wok over the highest possible heat until smoking hot. One at a time, crack the eggs into the hot oil and fry for 45 seconds until crispy on the bottom and edges. Spoon the hot oil over the eggs to cook the yolk, turning it opaque but keeping it runny. Set aside to drain on a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm while you cook the stir-fry.
  • Pour off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the oil, then heat over a medium heat. Add the stir-fry paste and stir vigorously for about 30 seconds, or until the paste becomes fragrant. Increase the heat to high, then add the beef and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until the beef is almost cooked through. Add the green beans and seasoning sauce. Continue to move the ingredients around in the wok for a further 1 minute so that the vegetables are tender but retain a bite, and the beef is cooked through.
  • Add the beef stock or water (if you’re using) and bring to the boil over a high heat. Check the seasoning; it should taste spicy and salty, with a slight background sweetness. If it tastes too intense, add a splash more stock or water. Add the basil leaves and toss everything together so that the basil wilts. This is a holy basil stir-fry, after all, so be sure not to scrimp on the basil leaves. Serve immediately with the crispy fried eggs and rice.

Kin Thai book cover

Taken from Kin Thai: Modern Thai Recipes to Cook at Home by John Chantarasak published by Hardie Grant at £22 (photography by Maureen M. Evans). To buy from The Week Bookshop for £17.99, call 020-3176 3835 or visit

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