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Thai Stir-Fried Pork with Basil, Chilies and Garlic (Pad Kraprao)
Pad kraprao, meaning “fried holy basil,” is a fragrant, flavor-packed Thai staple. We enjoyed a handful of iterations in Bangkok, where Thai cooks taught us to balance the recipe’s medley of bold, punchy ingredients. Despite the dish’s name, the basil isn’t actually fried, but wilted into the mix at the very end of cooking. What is stir-fried is a zingy chili-garlic paste, followed by finely chopped or ground meat, and the finisher is a salty-sweet, slightly funky mixture of oyster, soy and fish sauces. Tiny yet assertively spicy Thai bird chilies are traditionally used, but we found easier-to-source Fresnos offered adequate heat and bright, fruity notes. In Thailand, the dish often is incendiary. For our version, we suggest seeding the chilies to start, but if you love a fiery kick, keep the seeds in a few or all of them. Holy basil, with leaves that are vaguely heart-shaped, has a peppery, menthol-like bite and is more savory than sweet Italian basil. If you don’t have access to it, either Thai or Italian basil works wonderfully, but you’ll need to use 50 percent more. A fried egg tops it all off, the runny yolk adding creaminess while the crisp edges provide crunch. Serve with steamed jasmine rice, perfect for soaking up the delicious garlicky sauce.
medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 or 5
Fresno chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped