Stir-fried basil served with 'khai dao', or fried egg on rice, is the most popular quick lunch or dinner for Thais, and is often enjoyed at street-food stalls.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 5 bird’s eye chillies
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 400 g (14 oz) minced (ground) chicken
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 long red chilli, sliced
  • 25 g (1 oz/¾ cup loosely packed) holy basil leaves (see Note)
  • steamed jasmine rice, to serve

Dipping sauce

  • 2 red and green bird’s eye chillies, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic cloves into a coarse paste, then add the chillies and pound them a few times to bruise them. If you prefer the stir-fry to be spicy, pound the chillies into a coarse paste. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat until it begins to smoke. Fry the eggs in the oil until crisp, then remove from the wok with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towel.
  3. Increase the heat to high. Using the leftover oil, stir-fry the garlic and chilli mixture until fragrant. Add the minced chicken and cook, stirring constantly to break it up, until the chicken is browned and almost cooked all the way through. Pour the fish sauce down the side of the wok, so that it pools beneath the chicken and allow it to cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, until caramelised.
  4. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, caster sugar and long chilli and stir-fry to combine. Add 75 ml (2½ fl oz) water to the wok to deglaze, followed by the holy basil leaves. Stir-fry until the basil leaves are just wilted and remove from the heat.
  5. To make the dipping sauce, combine the sliced chilli and the fish sauce. Serve the pad kaphrao warm with steamed jasmine rice, the fried eggs and the dipping sauce.



Holy basil has a distinct flavour to other varieties of basil, and generally can't be substituted for another type. It can be purchased online, from spice shops or Asian grocers.


Recipe and images from Bangkok Local by Sareen Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99