When I was growing up in Thailand, my stomach usually grumbled after a long day at elementary school. My favorite spot to grab something and to fill my tiny belly up was a tiny street food cart near school. And my favorite dish? Minced pork with Thai basil.
Minced pork with Thai basil or pad krapow moo sap is one of the most popular dishes in Thailand. It’s usually served on a pile of hot jasmine rice and topped with a sunny side up fried egg with the yolk still runny. It’s savory, spicy, and fragrant from garlic and Thai basil.
Thai basil is a little different from Italian basil (sweet basil). It has an anise-like aroma and is slightly spicy. It also has smaller and narrower leaves, purple stems, and purple flowers that spread out like leaves.
To refresh my old childhood memories, I asked Seksan Narkwong, one of the partners behind Sookk restaurant, to teach me his recipe for minced pork with Thai basil. Sookk, located on the Upper West Side of New York City, means happiness in Thai. “We want to make people happy with our food.” Narkwong explained.
He raised both eyebrows, opened his eyes wide, and looked at me with surprise when I spoke Thai to him—or at least I tried to. It seemed like my Thai language’s speaking capability is knocking at the door, but somehow just couldn’t fully get in.
I love this recipe. The Thai basil in the recipe really makes a big difference. My childhood memories poured right back. It’s very comforting. It’s a dish that made me happy then, makes me happy now, and continues to make me happy whenever I eat it. Happy eating!
Minced Pork with Thai Basil Recipe
Makes 2 servings
Prep and cooking time: 10 minutes
1/2 pound minced pork (or minced chicken or beef)
4 tablespoons oil
1 red chilies, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1⁄2 cup Thai basil leaves
In a hot pan, add the oil and stir-fry garlic and chili until fragrant.
Add pork and continue to stir-fry on medium heat until almost cooked. Flavor with fish sauce, then add fresh Thai basil, and stir-fry for a few seconds. Serve on a plate.
In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Crack an egg into the pan and fry until the white part is set, but the yolk is still soft. Pile the egg over the minced basil pork. Serve over hot jasmine rice.